Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Glossary of office clichés

A guide to the grating language of application forms, team briefings and office politics.

According to the Cambridge International Dictionary of English it means "taking action yourself, rather than waiting for something to happen". To a normal human being that would be synonym with bleeding obvious, for if you needed a slash you'd evidently get on your feet and make for the loo instead of waiting until you wet yourself. In the world of office politics that's become the equivalent of a religious hymn.

Investing in people
Especially popular in call centres or catering chains a-la McDonald's or Starbucks, "we like to invest in people", is the routine codename for requiring your staff to do unpaid overtime or similar crap and feel good about it. Often coming in the guise of a logo, a free t-shirt, free folder or a glossy "welcome pack" from Head Office, it still fails to halt hair-raising levels of staff turnover.

Think outside the box
Currently fashionable in sales, it's what they require of you when you're ripping off some poor sod on behalf of some loaded, lazy bastard who's going to pocket all the bonuses. If you can manage to glibly fob off the customer without the help of a line manager then you're on.

A fundamental ingredient of the self-aggrandising world of office politics, 'liaising' is deployed to dress up the most menial of jobs as it basically means you can open your mouth and exchange basic information. You may not have been aware, but the last time you said "one, please" to the bus driver and he handed you a ticket, you successfully liaised. Congratulations.

Often used to justify job titles such as "Team Leader", nowadays it's considered crucial even if you're applying to become a hermit. Seriously, gallery invigilators in Museums won't get the job if they don't scribble 'teamwork' on their application form. In practice, if your workmate needs the loo and asks you to cover for five minutes, make sure you don’t turn round and growl "No, just crap yourself you wanker", otherwise you're not a teamworker.

Interpersonal skills
The job advert said "interpersonal skills absolutely essential". No doubt management must have blinked when they hired that moody, socially inept cow at reception.

Cutting edge

A trendy way of saying 'modern', it's routinely used in the world of customer service. It doesn’t explain, however, what an ancient (or blunt) service would look like.

Equal Opportunities
Typical of local authorities and public jobs in general, its actual meaning remains a mystery. Yet rumour has it that even Nelson Mandela, Cheryl Cole or Jamie Oliver wouldn't land that job if they failed to beat their chest and recite "I'm fully committed to the notion of Equal Opportunities". Amen.


Helen Highwater said...

Where I work got "Investors in People" status recently. What this seemed to involve was "focus groups" (argh) coming up with some rather limp acronyms and us having to remember them. This means that we know what the place is up to. Or something. I would've thought investing in your staff means providing subsidised bus passes or not charging parking fees, but that would cost money.

Anonymous said...

Just come across this, I know it's a bit late. But may I just say: Genius!

I used to work for Nottingham City Council and so many of those stupid cliches were used as often as good morning!

Carole said...

Let's ban the cliches.