Friday, August 9, 2013

Why Do Corporations Not Understand We All Roll Our Eyes At Corporate Speak

So, they're laying off a bunch of people at Patch, the local news arm of AOL.

According to Jim Romenesko, the head of AOL, Tim Armstrong, did not endear himself to many people when he reportedly fired a staffer during a conference call for taking photos during said conference call.
AOL CEO Tim Armstrong. Enough with the
corporate speak, Tim!  

Way to go, Tim! Are we a bit Nixonian or what?

But what bothered me at least as much as Armstrong's way to describe layoffs. They aren't layoffs. They're "impacts."

Impacts? Really? That's supposed to make everything OK?  "Hey, we're an impactful company!"  Yeah, real positive.

I wonder why some members of the corporate world don't understand why corporate speak doesn't help their cause.

"We're not downsizing. We're rightsizing!"  Which means firing a bunch of people.   That should make all the people who find themselves suddenly jobless totally happy.

Do the CEOs or whoever is in charge not see the entire nation rolling their eyes when they lapse into such language?

There's a whole web site devoted to corporate speak, which is entertaining to browse if you have time to waste. Most of the words are harmless, if obnoxious.

But trying to put a positive spin on something negative is just dishonest. Why would anyone want to buy a product or service from a company like that? Perhaps that's why they're circling the drain in the first place.

Getting back to AOL Chief Armstrong, he's clearly a big fan of corporate speak. Here's part of a memo to employees during a 2011 round of layoffs:

"The structural changes at AOL are possible because of the progress we have made as a team in the last 12 months. The majority of our sites have materially improved their customer experiences, our advertising business continues to get healthier and more innovative, our video position is strengthening everyday, or local footprint is quickly expanding, we are attraction some of the most talented people in the world to work at AOL, and our technology infrastructure is simpler and more robust. AOL is a global brand and a global opportunity and we are doing the hard work that will once again make the company an industry leader."

As FishbowlLA pointed out, if you can interpret the jargon in that horrible paragraph, Armstrong is saying "These layoffs were made possible by all your hard work."

So, if you're going to lay off some employees, describe the move as layoffs. If you're downsizing, feel free to explain why, and why it will help the company.

Just stay away from the corporate speak, please, so that our rolling eyes don't end up rolling out our ears and onto the floor. It would make a mess. That one of your rightsized, er, downsized employees will have to clean up.

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