What Managers Really Mean!
Welcome to our free guide to what your manager's really mean when they say what they say!
One of the beauties of the last fifteen or twenty years has been the shift in meaning of the word 'accountability'. In the past it had a horrible habit of meaning that the person at the top - who got paid the most - copped the flak whenever anything went wrong. Poor marketing campaign? The Marketing Director was sacked.
That was back in the dark days. Nowadays, accountability means that the person at the top gets to decide who has to go for their mistakes, in the name of 'encouraging responsibility among staff' - an ingenious corporate invention. If something goes wrong and you are not sure who to blame, follow the example of a politician - they blame their civil servants, you blame your staff. It's so simple.
Analysis can go two sides. It can either show what a great job you're doing and the progress that has been made, or show up your mistakes. Play on the safe side and ask your team to produce statistics instead. They always show what you want.
What you're supposed to be concerned with, since you don't actually have any work to be distracted by. And since you're the boss, you can afford a few big pictures for your office too! Result.
The latest corporate craze to sweep the nation. Make meetings with the big-wigs more enjoyable by listing 20 'buzz' words of the time. Every time that one of them is mentioned in the meeting laugh hysterically and cross off the list. It won't do much for your chance of getting to the senior exec, but it will make those boring meetings much more entertaining. Tip: best have a couple of drinks before attempting this one or you may chicken out.
The Board is a role that you can aspire to, but may never achieve (a bit like reaching the stars). You think that you have it easy, spending half your days drinking coffee?
These elite people have it even easier - lots of meeting and greeting, shaking hands, false smiles, cups of coffee. And lots of share options, big houses, and willing partners. If you ever feel a little demotivated at work, think how great it would be if you were on the board. If it still ain't happening, make yourself feel better by setting up your own company, and electing yourself as Chief Exec of the board. Print yourself some business cards to make it feel even more authentic.
The best carrot and stick in the world. Tell your staff that the harder they work, the bigger their bonus. Staff are greedy and are out for all they can get. A few weeks before bonus time, inform them that with regret bonuses will be down this year. Spend the money you save in bonuses on yourself and that nice new office furniture you wanted.
Your career is the most important thing to you. Make sure it is the most important thing to your employees too - tell them that the more success you have, the more success you will pass onto them. When you get promoted as a result of their blood, sweat and tears, send them a box of chocolates.
Someone that you invariably never choose to get along with or maybe even talk to, but you have to for the sake of work. If this is the case, remember the money. Unfortunately they are probably on the same level as you so you can't demote them.
consultants (bringing in the)
An extremely expensive way of finding out one of four things:
- something you already knew
- something you didn't already know, but didn't want to know either
- something you wanted to know, but would have easily discovered if you weren't so lazy
- something you didn't know, wanted to know, but is of no practical use whatsoever
This is the only means of protection that your employees have against the way that you can treat them legally. Therefore they are evil mechanisms. However, they are also the only means of protection that you have against the bigger bosses. Therefore they are good mechanisms. Complex things, contracts.
This is a pressing concern for most businesses. Frequently refresh staff's mind about the best way of consolidating costs - letting people go.
Credibility is very important. If your staff don't view you as credible, then you won't have a very enjoyable job or much success. Ensure your credibility among staff remains high - introduce a new policy where anyone who speaks ill of you gets the night shift. If you don't currently have a night shift, invent one.
The big boss (the bastard higher than you) has told you to prepare a document by yesterday. Remember, always remain calm in a crisis. Never panic. The answer is simple: Delegate.
This means thinking like a customer. Act like a customer with your staff - complain about everything, and ask to see their boss. Laugh and say 'ohh, but I am your boss' and cackle manically. If your staff look cross, say 'tut tut, you should know the customer is always right', then walk back to your office to pat yourself on the back.
Make sure that your staff get things done by imposing deadlines. Employees are slippery bastards, and good at making excuses. Therefore set your deadlines at least a week before you need a piece of work done. That way you will either be pleasantly surprised or seldom disappointed. Perfect.
All managers need to learn good delegation skills. New to a managerial post? Best get your practice in early by asking those beneath you to do 99% of your workload from day 1. That way it will manage their expectations going forward (they will know you're a lazy git so will never expect anything of you in the future). Then call up your mate and have a nice relaxing game of golf.
your greatest fear and the thing that makes you sweat at night. Demotion can be extremely negative. Turn it into a positive by threatening to restructure yuor team and reducing the number of senior roles.
Remember, your staff have strengths but no weaknesses... merely developmental areas. As they are not weaknesses as such, you have full licence to be as frank as you want to be with regard to their dismal performance in these areas.
Make sure your team is efficient as possible through the use of that key corporate skill: streamlining. Get all your staff to justify their jobs to you. It will ensure that they work extra hard through fear of displacement, and increase efficiency.
Wherever you go in the world, you will always have enemies: either obnoxious people, or those who feel they can do better than you. Worse still, those who actually can do better than you. If anyone in your team threatens to do better than you, pencil in an emergency feedback session with them. Tell them to concentrate on their weaknesses because it's not clever to play to your strengths. Sit back, and relax.
Ask your staff if they want to reduce waste. If they say yes, make sure that all printers print on both sides of the paper. If they buy that one, next suggest that you don't issue payslips anymore to reduce paper waste any further. Monitor their response for signs of discontent.
Have a giggle when righting a job advert by requesting that all applicants have "great Word, Powerpoint and all-round EXCELlent skills.
Ask your staff if they are keen to be 'fast tracked' for promotion. If anyone takes you up on the offer, invite them into your office and show them just how much work they are going to have to do to be a fast track candidate. Double their workload.
A bit of a buzz word at the moment. Everything that happens must go through a feasibility assessment first. Is that upgrade to the company web site feasible? Nope. Is that work-life balance scheme the employees want to introduce feasible? Nope. Is it feasible for your staff to expect a good bonus this year? Very funny...
Feedback is a process where we either have to feel uncomfortable telling people why we hate them, or they tell us why they think we're crap. All companies are keen on this as it is supposed to drive performance. We all hate negative feedback so much that we're supposed to work extra hard to avoid it. Tell all your staff that you "are very frank with your feedback and hope they are the same with you". Watch their work effect visibly improve. And it's not like they are going to give you bad feedback - you're the boss for god's sake!
Someone you use to gain profile in the business and who uses you back. However, you can both go down the pub at the end of the day and congratulate yourselfs on being such good users.
The corporate definition of 'goal': "the benchmark against which the performance of all your staff is governed. The key quality a goal possesses is that it is unattainable, and therefore there is always room for improvement in staff performance"
Keep your staff on their toes, by always moving the goalposts. Tell your team it is good for them as you are want them to aim high and not become complacent.
Hate is a powerful motivator. If you hate someone within the company, you might want to consider spreading vicious rumours about their hairpiece or false teeth.
A legally necessary evil which your staff will try and call in at the most inconvenient of times - for instance Christmas. Note to self: in the spirit of being politically correct, ban Christmas this year.
The quoted working week tends to be around 35 hours. But who works to quotas? No-one. Exactly... so if your staff ever think of leaving before 7pm, cheerfully remind them that "that's not the way that we work here". Then go home.
HR, or Human Resources as it is so-called is a self-serving area of a company that likes tension and problems so that it can create more jobs and keep those that already exist. However you need to be nice to them because they usually control wage-related issues. Never nice people to talk to, because you only do when you're at an interview or have some horrible computer problem. In many ways like a doctor.
Encourage initiative among your staff. As you get higher up the company, it is more and more important. If any of your staff do have a flash of great initiative, encourage them to share it with you. If it's really good, tell your boss and pass off the idea as your own. Sometimes having an open and honest culture can work wonders for you! Gloat in the credit you receive.
Bastards who are always sniffing around when there's trouble, trying to trip you up. You need to be alert around them, as they are like sharks round bloodied waters. Positive: you could learn a lot
At some stage, you will have to use your judgement in a tricky situation. Make sure that when the time comes you have a very clear head and are not stressed out with work. The best way to ensure this is to stick rigidly to doing no work the rest of the time, so you are fresh when the time comes.
What goes around, comes around. So make sure that you have moved up the corporate ladder before what you give out comes back at you. It's safest that way.
ladder (climb the)
The corporate ladder is what you must aspire to climb. Every day is a struggle to climb another rung of that metaphorical device for getting as high in the company as possible. Remember - the higher up the ladder you get, the more exposed you are should something go wrong, and the further you have to fall. Make sure that any fall you could have is cushioned by having a diversionary tactic up your arm for when that fall occurs.
To do this, read all the emails that the people in your team send and receive. As well as being very interesting, it's sure to give you ammunition for when you most need it. Just inform your staff that unless they take the blame for the slip-up you experience, you will out their favourite website to the world (and tell their partners too). Harsh, but then you are the manager after all.
A strange phenomenon. Every company has a huge marketing department yet no-one really knows what they do. Bizarre. This is the area where all the creative bods work. They burn away the companies money producing no tangible results. When collared by the CEO they say they are too artistic to worry about trivialities like business cases, maths and returns on investment. Luckily the CEO doesn't understand what a return on investment is and lets them get on with it.
It's been alleged by some smart alec that if you truly enjoy your work then you never do a real days work in your life. Said smart alec was undoubtedly unemployed.
This is the real world, and work is an evil, boring chore. If you can't motivate yourself, then try and motivate your staff: introduce performance related pay. If that's already been done, then get a little harder on them - set up a league table where only the top 5 people get paid. If they take you to a tribunal, say you were only joking to try and enhance team spirit.
This is a very important corporate game. You use - oops - talk to other people, give them your business card and takes theirs back. Meet for lunch once in a while and slag off your respective staff. When you need to call in a favour, that bonding can come in very useful.
What is normal? There is no such thing as normal. Play this line when the staff protest that the hours you are asking them to work are unreasonable and not normal. It may help to read a philosophy text book first.
A great time of year. You and your staff get to have lots of fun together, you get to pour drink down the throats of those you want to get the gossip out of. You can find out what people really think of you to use to your advantage next year. Better still, you get to bury all the bad news when people are too drunk to care.
Paying an extortionate fee for a mediocre service, this is only ever done because an equivalent internal service either doesn't exist or is dreadful. Have a chart in your office which reads "Outsource my staff?????" in big black letters to keep them working hard. Works every time.
A member of your staff who is great with other people, but bad at getting work done on time. Sack them.
Remember, it is important that your staff are seen to improve under your steady hand and guidance. So, at the start of the period, rate them as 'hopeless', move them to 'ok' half way through, and 'good' at the end of the year. It's so simple. Next year if they protest at being rated as 'hopeless' again, simply tell them that you have now moved the yardstick.
One of the few jobs that you will have as a boss is to give the occasional presentation. Of course, you won't have to write it yourself - you have staff for that - but you do need to be careful that they explain the contents to you beforehand.
Make sure that you bring the staff that wrote the presentation into the meeting with you. If there any difficult questions, simply hand them off. Explain that you take a keen interest in developing your staff, by exposing them to the cutting edge of business.
A diagram full of colourful zig-zagging lines and action points. Always good to look and laugh at six months down the line and say knowingly "well, it looked good on paper"
If a piece of work has a purpose, research shows that the results are often of a much higher standard. People know where it slots into the big picture, and consequently feel a sense of meaning when doing it. The result? Better work, more contented staff. Give your staff purpose by telling them that if they don't do a good piece of work you will ban all office parties forthwith (on health and safety grounds, of course).
You've woefully mis-managed the team. The powers that be have no confidence in your team and have suspended your budget. Faced with no money, what possible improvements can your team make to processes inside the company? None. That's why you need a healthy dose of quick wins - pointless, but free, changes to existing processes. Always have a few quick wins up your sleeve for a rainy day.
'Quit' is actually a good work - if one of your staff quit, then you don't have to pay them any redundancy money. Make it more appealing for your poor staff to quit - sit them next to the air conditioning unit and downgrade their computer to a BBC Master, as part of the cost consolidation program.
The costing for a piece of work. Since a quote can form a legally binding document, always play on the safe side and quadruple the expected cost when giving one. Don't feel guilty - everyone else does it!
It is important that your company is seen as being environmentally responsible and reduces waste as much as possible. Let's face it, your team is not going to be the best at anything else what with all those keen teams throughout the company. So why not become recycling champions? Get the press involved and take some cheesy photos. Of course you don't have to believe in any of it... but just think of the size of your bonus. Celebrate my upgrading your car to a twin exhaust.
A report is a document that you make your staff write to update you on a situation. Usually because you need to have some audit trail in place or show that your team are doing some work when the big boss asks. Make sure your staff summarise the key points at the start and end of the document.
After all, it's not as like you have any interest in it whatsoever, so it might as well be as easy to read as possible. Better still, get the report writer to read it out to you whilst you are relaxing in your swanky office with a hot cup of coffee.
When you need to cut jobs, inform your staff that you are right-sizing the company. After all, who can complain with that? It sounds so much more reasonable and humane than down-sizing. It doesn't matter that they are the same thing.
Sarcasm is an under-used corporate tool. It can be used to embarrass, inspire, motivate and amuse. Introduce some inspiration and amusement to your office by being sarcastic at every possible opportunity. When asked what you think of a report, raise your eyebrows and say
"yes, it must be *the* best report that I have ever read in my whole life".
This is a great line - your staff feel small, you and you feel clever because not only have you been sarcastic but you've also been truthful. After all, it is the best report you've ever read in your life. It's not like you've read any others. You're a manager for pity's sake - you're far too busy to read reports.
It is very important that you have self-respect. If you don't, no-one else with, which can quickly lead to a vicious circle leading to ignimony. Massage your self-respect by leaving notes around your office telling you how great you are. If your ego is really at a low ebb, consider employing a personal psychologist to tell you how great you are. If it's good enough for athletes, then it's good enough for you!
Someone who wants you to deliver their work before time and under budget, but is totally unprepared to give you the input you require from them until the last minute. Stakeholders are stressful - leave them to your staff to deal with and unwind by buying a tacky corporate toy.
Watch out for strengths in your staff. If they get too good, they might compete for your job. Instead, make sure that all your staff work intensely on their developmental areas. That way you will have a few more years before they are good enough to do your job. Don't feel guilty - it's what all big companies do these days, so you should too.
(i) someone higher than you in the comapny. The bastard.
(ii) One of your ideas - which must always be superior to those of your staff.
A member of your staff who does excellent work but has no people skills. Given them a promotion.
Someone with no social skills who is very good at one thing:
telling you 101 reasons why yhey can't do what you want. But very bad at telling you:
not only can they do what you want, but they can do it cheaper and more quickly than you had anticipated
What's unfair? Tell your staff that as the previously mentioned progressive employer, you want to make their lives earlier. Poll them for what they think would be the most unfair thing an employer could do to their employees. Save them up and see how many you can use in the first six months of your next job.
Invariably trivial, but something that your boss has demanded of you. Why take the strain yourself? Remember, your the boss now. Interesting how much comes back to delegation isn't it...
All leaders need a vision. Luckily, you don't need to be particularly original here. Try this one for size:
"I have a vision for this company. A vision of greatness. We are a good company, but we can be even better. I want you to work with me to achieve that greatness. If we all work harder together, we can achieve our dream, of being the most successful company in our field. Together, we can be great." Maximum effect, minimum effect.
You might have heard of the Wage War. It's where your staff want more pay, and you want to give them less. Make sure you blame economic conditions for not giving pay rises, so as they can't blame you.
A 'win-win' situation is one in which there is no loser. Once you've been in management long enough, you will realise that such a situation is a fiction and there is always a loser, like in a war. However, your staff don't know this, so help inspire them in these uncertain times by telling them to always look for the win-win. Feel good that you have given them some hope in an otherwise unsure world where gits like yourself rule their lives.
When you are writing the employment literature for HR when advertising for a new job, you should mention that you think a work-life balance is important. It's OK - you don't need to mean it. After all, you also wrote that it was an "exciting, excellent opportunity for an ambitious individual" didn't you, and did you feel guilty about that? Of course you didn't!
The X-factor will ensure that you stand out head and shoulders from the rest of the company employees. Make sure you have the X-factor: it's available in the shops now for £9.99
Inform your staff that you don't like negativity, and that you are banning the word 'no'. That way, whenever you ask them a direct question, they will have no option but to respond with 'yes'. Oh, the cunning.
The ultimate corporate exercise. It leaves you with terrible aches all over your body, and you feel beaten up when you get home. Just like work, in fact.
As a modern boss in a modern, progressive company, you should ensure that there is a zero-tolerance policy against discrimination of any sort. Try taking this to the ultimate extreme and not discriminating in the size of the workload any of your staff have. If anyone suggests they are doing too much, show yet more zero-tolerance and sack them.