In times of crisis, like COVID, executives need to go light on buzzwords

I guess this is probably the best place to begin, because it happened earlier today. I don’t think this image has any identifying markers, but here goes. My friend sent me this. It’s from her company’s leadership/sales leadership team meeting this AM:

All those words sound good to executives and they like to say them in meetings, sure — there are typically lots of issues around corporate vocabulary and double-talk, unfortunately — but they don’t really mean anything. Go talk to your best friend and say “A value in action is a virtue.” He will look at you and be like “Hey, you carrying some weed?” These are just puffed-up suitcase words. They don’t mean very much to an actual person.

Care about actual people? We’re doing biz here, baby!

That’s the normal executive approach. If you group “words that begin with P,” usually this is the order of importance to senior leadership:

  • Profit
  • Product
  • Process
  • People

You can argue maybe “People” is №3, and “Process” is №4 … but there is no way “People” is getting ahead of “Profit” and “Product” to a lot of senior leaders, unfortunately. That’s the common thinking. What’s ironic, of course, is that these guys (and gals) talk about “strategy” all week, but there’s no actual, empirical evidence anywhere that they understand what “strategy” is. I digress.

What about right now, though?

The Rona. It’s a time of crisis, for multiple reasons:

  • The health of individuals
  • The health of communities
  • The economic repercussions
  • The individual-level (familial-level) economic repercussions
  • Values, self-worth
  • Mental health
  • Etc.

Things are going to change. We don’t necessarily know what is going to change or when that’s going to happen, but things will change.

And beyond that, right now people are scared. Are layoffs possible? Have they already been laid off? What is their landlord or owner saying? What are other bill collectors saying?

If the people you employ lack the information to talk to those who want money from them, they are going to be even more nervous and scared. Frankly, they might be terrified. You can only beat off a bill collector so many times with vague bullshit.

Could you imagine telling a bill collector “Well, Tom… see … a value is ultimately a road map for action, so … no … I won’t be paying this month?”

You’d get sued, or goons might show up at your door eventually. Nothing good is happening to your credit rating.

So see: by us, as employers and leaders, being vague … we are forcing people who have real needs and concerns to be vague, and the system isn’t advancing.

Ruh roh.

Time for a translator

“Translation” is when you bring “A” in line with “B,” right? Like Chinese to English, etc? Or, in the case of one of my favorite posts, truck drivers to Big Data.

Blogging, largely about work and how to improve it. How I make (some) money: http://thecontextofthings.com/work-with-me/

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