Wednesday, April 2, 2014

10 Business phrases and their translations.

Happy April 2nd everyone.  Yes, I know, I have broken my self imposed timing.  But I didn't want anyone thinking that this was just some kind of joke.

Everyone says kids have their own language.  It's true.  Kids language is based on the most hip most popular shortcuts in language that you can muster.  If you aren't understood by your parents, so much the better.  The same holds true for business.  When you walk in the circles of business, you find yourself pummeled with a dizzying array of words and phrases that really don't mean what they seem to mean at first.  For example...

10. Leverage -  This means work, but when a manager says it, it sounds like he is doing the work by thinking hard.  A long time ago, they used to have a stupid phrase that was similar to this:  "Work smarter not harder".  That has given way to leverage.  Used in a business setting.  "We are really going to leverage Joe's talents on this next project"  Translation:  We are going to work Joe like a rented mule.  The manager that uses this phrase thinks of himself as the force and you as the stick.

9.  Reach out - This means to talk to someone, usually in another department of your company.  For some reason, communicate is so 80's.  Any more, you reach out to people in order to get specifications from them for a project, or possibly to leverage their resources.  Example "I'm going to reach out to Accounting and see if we can't get more clear on their requirements".

8.  Push back - Displace responsibility.  Sometimes when someone reaches out to you, you have to push back. If someone in the company is requiring a task be completed by you, but they haven't given you all of the specifications, you have to push back in order for them to know that the responsibility of impending failure is partially or fully theirs.  This can of course be remedied by leveraging their talents to assist you in clarifying your specifications.

7.  Scrum - A short stand up meeting and a name for Agile project management.  Scrummage is a rugby term used for the initial play to determine who ultimately gains possession of the ball.   Now it's being co-opted by business to mean a short meeting normally used in conjunction with Agile planning/programming methodology.  Many will use the term Scrum interchangeably to mean Agile.  Scrum is slowly giving way to stand up as the term for the meeting.  Many people that are using Scrum will have a near religious fervor about them.  They will want to follow the methodology in a dogmatic fashion.  That kind of excitement excites managers.

6.  Work From Home - This is a term that means different things in different companies.  In some companies, it means tacit overtime.  Still in other companies it means that they do more work than is readily obvious from their habits at the office.  Other companies use the term to mean you have a doctors appointment, but you don't want to take a sick day.  Some rare companies will take it to mean that you do your actual job, but without a remote office.  In this case you are often paid less for the convenience even though you are actually costing the company less to employ you.

5.  Bonus - Extra money earned for extraordinary work.  The shiny keys of business.  The term Bonus means that you will be paid a variable unspecified amount at the discretion of the company in return for uncounted overtime worked on behalf of the company.  What I would suggest is that you track carefully your worked hours and what you work in overtime.  Reduce your salary, wage to hourly and then give yourself time and a half for your overtime work.  Now evaluate that against your Bonus.  You'll see quickly that excessive overtime has little or no monetary value in a company.  There are of course exceptions to this rule, and where there are, they should be valued.

4.  Self Starter - A new hire that is able to learn what their job is to be quickly without being told what to do.  This is the business equivalent of a unicorn.  Because most managers don't really want self starters, they want mind readers.  If you self start in a direction that your manager didn't envision, you are not a self starter, you are a loose cannon.

3.  Crunch Time - Over time.  As a rank and file employee, your job is to work on assigned tasks on a day to day basis.  As a manager, your job is to manage the resources at your disposal in order to finish a given project within a particular timeline.  The termination of this timeline should result in the projects approved completion.  When your manager can see that he or she has not estimated the time correctly and the end of the project is looming, they will use the term crunch time to indicate that you are expected to work extra time in order to complete the project.  Good managers never have crunch time.  They push back on people requesting things in order to make realistic expectations.   Bad managers use it often because they believe they are leveraging resources at full capacity.

2.  Deadline - The required completion time of a task, project, or submission. The deadline has been in use since business has been in use.  Deadlines come in many flavors.  External deadlines are the dates that are required by external sources that you have no control over.  The reason you have a deadline, is to avoid some extra trouble of fees as a result of not completing your task on time.  Usually Government reporting falls under this category.  Artificial deadlines, on the other hand, are times that are dreamt up based on the theory 'If you don't have a deadline, it will never get done'  As if the deadline meant it was done.  HA!  A few interesting deadline facts:  1. Nobody dies from not accomplishing a deadline.  2. No fewer than 13 movies between the 1940's and today have 'deadline' as their title.

1.  Proactive - A spurious word that means self starter.  Proactive was never a word until business coined it.  Though it is going out of vogue now, you still hear it from time to time.  It means someone that would tend to act (in a way pleasing to management) rather than sit still on any given project.  Where the self starter is proactive about getting to know their job, someone that is proactive is always searching for ways to do more around the company to get job done on a more permanent basis.  The problem with the proactive people is they are usually much more active about jobs that they aren't asked to do.  Many times, the proactive sort will notice when you come and go and what you are about when you are doing your job.  Makes you wonder what exactly they are being proactive about.

I hope this little guide was helpful.  See you in several days!  And to you, my few subscribers.  Just remember I think you are really the smartest and best looking people I know.

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