Bad Words

There’s just some days I want to do something really radical in the workplace. Not radical as in violent or illegal. No, I mean really radical. Like overthrowing the entire corporate culture in a single stroke, say by insisting on calling ‘challenges’ ‘problems’.

Let’s not stop there. Why not introduce an Executive Directive that stipulates brutal honesty in the depiction of the corporate wellbeing and, in particular, problem management? Anyone caught masking the facts with a stream of arse-covering corporate-speak losses pay and share options.

It would be a tough call, one that only the most robust, self-assured organisations could handle. One that would require the entire Executive to grow a pair and be ready to sign-off on reports that said, in so many words, ‘We’ve screwed up’.

Any CEO who wants to speak to her workforce in a meaningful way should adopt this approach. Why? Because that’s how the workforce understand the business. They might talk about ‘challenges’ and spew bucket-loads of meaningless business-speak in the management update but, back at their desks, they know what root cause looks like and they use terms like ‘balls up’ and ‘clusterfuck’.

Want to get your risk management to work? This is it. Avoid the corporate jargon, get to the point and don’t flinch from the brutal truth. Any organisation that can do that – and be prepared to fix things in an equally head-on fashion – can make it work.

Anything else is just playing with words.

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