Office Acculturation 105: Deciphering The Language of Management And Change

In honor of Monday, I thought i would continue with my ethnographic series in corporate culture.

Jargon is a key part of the business day-to-day in an office setting. By us is also an essential management communication (or miscommunication) tool.

You see, most employees don’t need or want to have anything to do with the administrative and bureaucratic dealings of their workplace. Most of that responsibility lies with the senior executives and (if the company is not owned solely by its management) their handlers in the controlling organization.

Todays lesson is on context to help you decipher the management code without having to think too hard about it.

First, the Players: Who is in charge when management issues hit the fan

The executive team: anyone with an E before their title (such as an EVP / Executive Vice President) or an S next to their title (SVP  / Senior Vice President.  Typically, an Executive Vice President owns a share of the company and a Senior Vice President has been there a long damn time and has no other recourse but a title that grants them seniority.

The holding company:  The entity of bankers with MBAs in marketing or HR who are in charge of making sure the company makes a profit.  It is their job to make sure employees feel like they are doing something valuable, and make sure that the executive team actually produces value.  They are typically in  charge of deciding how many people get to keep their jobs.
Next, Organizational Lingo:  types of language are used to put a label to progress or lack thereof
Innovation:  new ideas and stuff.  As in “what types of products are in our innovation pipeline”.  Or “how are we going to use innovation to drive our business practice”?  Basically, when the status quo isn’t working, INNOVATION becomes the keyword that gives employees permission to be creative

Socialization:  getting people to listen and do what you tell them to do.  Applicable to results from research reports or training materials.  As in “I am going to need six months and six figures to ensure efficient socialization of this really bad news”.

Reorganization / Re-Org:  people getting moved around and / or fired.  This typically happens when a company isn’t performing well enough but you can’t get rid of everybody, because then there would be nobody left to do actual work.  So, people are put into “new roles” or their role is made “redundant” and they are fired.   As In “we are doing a re-org to reinvigorate our innovation engine”

Redundant:  this means that two people are doing a job that one person can do.  Usually during a re-org, management decides that one person can do two jobs and therefore the other person’s job is “redundant” and they can be “laid off”.  As In: “I am sorry, but due to the re-org, your management role has been made redundant”.

Downsizing: also known as “restructuring” and not too far removed from a “Re-Org”. It means people are getting fired to make up for poor business performance, to increase the share price by a few cents.  This is when people are “laid off”.  As In, “we are downsizing to optimize socialization of our innovation platform and minimize redundancy”.

Laid Off:  also known as “fired for no good reason” except for the fact that the company is going broke and  / or we need your space for storage.  This is the business version of the “it’s not you, it’s me” breakup, and is often rewarded with a consolation paycheck.  If you are fired for good reason, you typically get jack.

Head Count: the number of people who work in a department or organization.  As In “we need to reduce headcount as a part of our reorganization” or “I don’t have budget for any more head count, so you are going to have to do two jobs for the same pay”

Just a few helpful hints to help you further navigate the corporate landscape in our times of uncertainty.  There are lots of ways to fire people, but  it’s important to know the nuances.  Because business is complicated.  And unless you have an S or E in front of your title, you are not expected to understand, but will undoubtedly be effected when the pink slips roll down hill and will need to know how to spin it in your next job interview…or to your Mom.

 

 

 

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