It’s tempting to use corporate buzzwords as you try to encourage and motivate employees. However, improving morale goes further than just talking the talk. It’s better to walk the walk and show you care about leadership, rather than simply saying what everyone else says.
Just as with all buzzwords, corporate phrases initially came about because they were important. Everyone used them, though, without truly understanding what they meant. Enough action didn’t back up the shallow conversation. Thus, the corporate buzzwords lost power.
These phrases also create disconnection. Employees feel that their bosses use buzzwords when the boss doesn’t specifically know what else to say. Buzzwords also often happen when leaders don’t take the time to elaborate on what they mean.
For example, a boss comes to an employee and says, “Please get started on that task; it’s mission critical.” Okay… but why is it important? What is the end goal?
Corporate buzzwords also put one’s brain in autopilot mode. This prevents people from using creativity and innovation to solve problems.
From now on, before you use one of these buzzwords, check yourself. Ask yourself what you mean and the point you want to get across. Then, say that.
Remove these Corporate Buzzwords from Your Business Vocabulary
No one wants to hear these phrases. Chances are, there is a deeper meaning underneath when you say them. Think for a few more seconds, then deliver your request or information with greater detail and more intention.
Trust us, things improve when these corporate buzzwords disappear.
“Hit the ground running.”
What this means in real life: Begin with focus and attention. Don’t procrastinate.
Projects have end goals; deadlines are important. When people procrastinate, projects are more likely to get pushed to the side and forgotten about. Then, employees rush to finish and produce low-quality work.
Furthermore, they are probably worried or stressed about the project while it’s swept under the rug. This sits on the worry center of their brain, making other work less productive as well.
You want tasks completed with motivation from day one. Work with your team members to make a checklist of beginning tasks. Help them to see the first steps toward the big picture. Clear direction makes it easy to begin work.
Instead of this corporate buzzword phrase, try:
- “This project is due on April 15th. Each Friday until then, please turn in your progress.”
- “These aspects of the project take the most thought. Start with them and let me know how they go.”
- “Please turn in an outline within 48 hours so that I know you understand the material.”
Then, check in to ensure that smaller goals for the project are met daily, weekly, or monthly. Don’t set expectations and then forget about it until the day something is due. When you do this, others likely forget about it, too.
“Let’s all give 110%.”
What this means in real life: Give full effort. Don’t slack off. This is important.
No one can give more than their best. Especially when particular projects or tasks aren’t the only things on that person’s plate. However, asking people to give more than their best leads them to think that their best isn’t good enough.
You have the right to expect full effort. What you don’t have the right to expect, though, is people who overwork themselves and allow feelings of overwhelm and stress to impact their mental health.
Certain times of year or work with certain clients often require long hours, less flexible schedules, and more advanced tasks. This is normal and expected. However, employees need notice and extra support from leadership to maintain levels of productivity.
When you expect people to work over and above, your appreciation needs to mirror that. To show this, say things such as:
- “Saturdays and Sundays are workdays until this project is completed. I know this is a big ask, so when we’re done, everyone receives three personal days added to their time bank.”
- “This client is a huge financial backer for the company. They expect exceptional work. I promise that the bonus they attach to their payment is yours to split.”
- “Work-from-home days aren’t possible during this season, as this work requires in-person collaboration. However, working lunches are covered by the company during this time.”
You’re/he’s/she’s/they’re a rockstar!
What this means in real life: This person is inspiring, creative, a role model, and/or a critical thinker.
When did rock stars become role models for any lifestyle? Sure, everyone knows who rock stars are and people follow them for trends. But they also:
- Show up hungover
- Trash hotel rooms
- Participate in risky behavior
- Make ridiculous demands
No one wants that. You say that someone is a rock star. Instead, think about which of these qualities you want people to emulate.
- Do they work hard?
- Do they create inspiring content?
- Do they bring new ideas to the table?
- Do others look up to them?
Whichever of these are true, say that. Then, give specific examples.
- “Every time I pass by her office, she is focused on a task.”
- “They delivered that presentation in a way no one else ever thought to do.”
- “At each staff meeting, when a problem is brought up, he offers a creative solution.”
- “People ask to be partnered with them and I see them lead with grace and empathy.”
Use direct language and examples to make people feel appreciated, seen, and recognized. People who feel this way are motivated to work hard and encourage others.
“Can we take this discussion offline?”
What this means in real life: It’s important to talk in person.
This one is easy. The discussion is no longer productive over online communication. This communication includes:
- Text messaging
- Company chat rooms
- Even cell phones!
In-person communication is so important. However, nowadays almost everything takes place over some sort of technological device.
Why do you want to talk in person? Determine the real reason and say so.
- “This is a serious matter and I want to give it my full attention.”
- “Email makes it difficult to get our points across about this. Let’s talk over lunch tomorrow.”
- “Texting is creating lags in this discussion; it’s more efficient to talk one-on-one and make a decision.”
- “Talking on the phone means we don’t have the benefit of non-verbal communication, which helps me understand how you feel. Please stop by my office whenever it’s convenient to pick up the conversation.”
Show that you value your employees’ thoughts and experiences by offering your time. In-person connection is a lost art; don’t let lack of it hinder your company’s efficiency and productivity.
“He/she/they bring a lot of value to the table.”
What this means in real life: This person delivers high-quality work. They problem solve well and have creative ideas. They are an asset to the company.
Do you say this because you want others to emulate the qualities of the person you’re talking about? Or do you use this vague statement to back up the fact that someone is with the company when you don’t have concrete reasons to keep them?
Concrete reasons to keep someone as part of the team are those such as:
- They show up to work each day and complete all required tasks—often more.
- They guide new employees with tact and empathy.
- They handle difficult clients with humor and grace.
- They improve company numbers each year, even in times of financial recession.
You say that someone brings value to the table. Whether you’re talking to others about looking to that person as a role model or trying to show appreciation to the person in question, specifics make a better statement.
“Pluck the low-hanging fruit.”
What this means in real life: Attempt the quick and easy tasks first.
There are plenty of reasons for this. However, avoid this corporate buzzword phrase and instead use clear language such as:
- “Check off three small tasks to start this project. You’ll feel better about what’s left.”
- “There’s only an hour left in the day. Instead of letting it go to waste, respond to some emails that you already know the answer to.”
- “Paperwork isn’t my favorite part of the job, either. However, it’s quick to complete! Please finish the paperwork so that part of the project is taken care of.”
Remember, though, that quick and easy tasks for you might not be for someone else. When you give direction, ask why someone hesitates to take care of these types of tasks. Do they seem pointless or constant? Give purpose so that people see the big picture.
Employees deserve better than a boss who simply says what’s catchy. You want team members who work productively, efficiently, and with high morale. Thus, use thoughtful direction, vocabulary, and conversation.
Invest the extra time and energy to speak to your employees with thoughtful ideas. Show you value them—they not only return the respect with high-quality work, but in the process, you get employees with high morale. The eLeaP continuous performance management system provides organizations with powerful options to attract and retain high caliber team members.