Corporate language (or jargon) is constantly changing.
Jargon can refer to phrases, terms or acronyms that are used within a business, a profession or an industry. Certainly, getting to grips with the company jargon can help someone to settle, connect and feel more relaxed amongst their peers – which is why most of us start to sound the same as our colleagues after a short time. If you don’t agree, ‘we can revert back’.
Remember the ‘pivot’ scene from Friends?
Ross sketches how they will carry the sofa up the staircases, and he, Chandler and Rachel attempt to carry it up the stairs. ‘Pivot, pivot, pivot, pivot, pivot’ says Ross. ‘Shut up, shut up, shut up’ replies Chandler. That was 1998. ‘Pivot’ has become such a commonly used word in many corporate teams, especially in software development to completely change the way in which things are being done. It’s so overused in businesses now that many people roll their eyes when they hear it (unless, of course, it’s used when moving furniture and then it’s very funny!).
I once worked with a leader whose team would keep a tally of the number of times he said the phrase, ‘at the end of the day’. With one all-day meeting when he repeated it more than 100 times! It meant his message lost impact and people switched off from listening. One of my coachees who left a Global VP role at a major brand to set up their own consultancy already feels like they are out of touch with corporate lingo and that’s only after a couple of months!
Helping people to learn the local company jargon can help create psychological safety. However, the opposite can be true if someone isn’t given the guide or support to learn and understand common phrases and terms within their organisation. For example, creating ‘management speak’ drives hierarchical behaviour, it builds a status division. It can also drive exclusive behaviours – and not at all support all the good work many businesses are doing to be more inclusive.
Have a think about all the corporate jargon used in your company. Does it feel like newcomers need a dictionary to understand phrases, terms or acronyms commonly used? Is it easy to decipher corporate communications or are they full of company specific language?
How does your company language align to the culture of your organisation? If you promote a culture of clear communication, then your company ‘speak’ needs to be clearly understood by everyone, including contractors and temporary colleagues.
Using language that everyone understands will ensure everyone knows what they’re doing and what’s expected of them. They might need to ‘pivot’ but at least they will know why and how they’re changing direction.
It’s difficult to avoid the use of corporate language within an organisation. Whether it be acronym overuse, management jargon or phrases. It shouldn’t be so specific that an outsider wouldn’t understand, that makes it confusing and might be off-putting to potential colleagues, clients or customers. Each organisation has their own language and for a newcomer it is up to them to get to grips with it PDQ (pretty damn quick) but don’t overcomplicate or overuse certain language, no one wants to be discombobulated!