Corporate speak, weasel words and corporate maggots

STOP! The weasel words, corporate speak and subterfuge are doing all of our heads in. These treacherous economic times are tough enough but the lack of straight talk is ringing alarm bells. And it’s everywhere. Chronic overuse of what appears to be conversational time savers — but are actually fact-warpers — means people are diverting to a cliche generator and truth diluter.

Let’s face it, when it comes to cold, hard truth often the best option is lying.

In these harsh times of economic rationalism (sacking) restructuring (sacking) and merit-assessed and incentive-based liquidation and redirecting of human resources (sacking) the bulldust detector is invaluable.

Don’t listen to what they’re saying. Listen to what they’re not saying. That’s where the truth is. And the truth will set you free. Well, that’s according to John 8:32. Look it up. I’m a Bible-quoting atheist.

The words synergise, incentivise, monitise, optimise and virtualise cannot be trusted (and yes they are real words, look them up). And anyone who knows what “disintermediate” means should throw themselves into the nearest pit of boiling lava. The terms that comprise the axis of bulldust are mission statement, core values and client-focused. If you hear all three in any one meeting jump on the table and scream, “Say what you mean you slimy, gutless corporate maggots”.

You can’t handle the truth? Just try me. This is the conversation I’d like to hear:

“Come in to my office, Buchanan. You’ve been here for years, are very good at your job and are paid what you think is a decent wage but had you decided to walk away this time last year we would have doubled it. We’re the only ones who know your value and we’re not going to tell you because our job is to pay the lowest price we can because we’re a business.

“The new board is scared witless of you because you know more than they do and you’re not afraid to say it. And sure, you and I both know they’re just a bunch of jumped-up electricians and rich plumbers but they think they’re intellectuals, visionaries and worse still, creative. Yeah, I know, I have to go along with it because I’ve got kids in private schools and it’s simply a matter of time before I’m going to need a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, a 30-metre yacht or be banging a 21-year-old personal assistant to fill that gaping hole inside me.

“As you know I’ve been given a promotion to recognise the relentless sucking up I’ve done over the past 10 years to make up for my lack of ability. If you’ve seen me in action you’d agree that what I actually deserve is a medal as big as a dartboard. I’m not sure it’s worth it either but here I am. Check out the view.

“So, the more costs I cut the bigger bonus I get. The board is leaning on me because the more money I save them, the heftier their pay cheques because the juicier the shareholders’ dividends. You know that saying ‘kill one, scare millions’? Firing you will keep everyone in a state of fear, which means we can pay them whatever we want and treat them however we like. Treat ’em mean, keep ’em keen.

“We’ll be replacing you with someone half the price who is enthusiastic but has no experience so we can mould them to fit our New Regime. They’ll feel eternally grateful to have a job in this stormy economic climate. Mmmm, smell that unpaid overtime!

“Fear’s a great motivator. If it doesn’t work out the board members will just activate their golden parachutes and I’ll eject to safety with a cushy package if I haven’t died of a brain aneurysm, heart attack or stroke already. Something stress-related but slightly poetic.

“That talk about the company being a family? Sucked in. All crap. So too the waffle about a variety of voices and passionate individuals. We just said that to keep you all here so things chugged along nicely.

“I bet you thought the Christmas party was us being generous and that it was a thank you for a job well done. It was a simple financial decision. Tax deductible and recommended by the number crunchers to save money on retraining new staff. So anyway, you’re fired.

“You’ll have no problem moving on to bigger and better things because quite frankly you’re bigger and better than all of us. And if you don’t, I couldn’t give a rats. A small part if me wishes I were you. But the rest of me will be driving home in my new $100,000 Mercedes- Benz to my $3.5-million house and having the board members over for a $200-a-head barbie at the weekend.

“Here’s your cheque, close the door and on your way out send in Middleton.”


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