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Ultimate Guide to Management Speak


What Your Boss Really Means

Do you ever feel like your boss is talking an entirely different language to you? They’re not, instead they are simply using Management speak to convey their points and whilst this may appear confusing it can be understood by non-managers without the use of a phrasebook. Management speak isn’t any cleverer than using plain English but it is often a lot more diplomatic which has driven the uptake of it in offices up and down the land. With communication so important to human relationships you’ll need to understand these terms in order to Climb the Corporate Ladder.

That’s very interesting…

Picture this; you tell your Manager your awesome idea and they say the phrase above. What can it possibly mean? Is it praise? No, it’s a polite way of saying they disagree with your idea and that you should think again. This phrase is a great example of Management jargon because it demonstrates how it can be used to correct people in a way that will not cause offence. In an office setting this is very important because it helps create a good team atmosphere which should mean more work is completed. This is part of the reason behind the rise of Management jargon.

This is just one of many examples of different Management speak that is used daily in offices and is constantly evolving. Not all jargon is as straightforward as this, some of the most popular terms are completely meaningless and simply used by your Manager to demonstrate their commitment to the company culture. But sometimes Management speak is used to hide the fact they have no idea what is going on. Here are seven of the most used Management terms that you will encounter in offices up and down the country.


Going Forward

Literally meaning ‘from now on’ this phrase is high on the most hated Management speak list. It implies a strategic plan has been formed to clear the slate and correct mistakes of the past but in actuality this is just one of many interpretations that can be made.


A noun that is now used as a verb, this just highlights the sheer disregard for English that Management speak has. ‘To action’ means to simply do but there are so many words that would be more appropriate to use in this situation, even if it sounds slightly less exciting than the word action.

End Of Play

Any Manager that uses this is trying to convince you and probably themselves that work is fun and more like a game of football rather than a serious endeavour. Infantilising the work force like this aims to make workers less challenging to manage but it could easily have the opposite effect.

Drill Down

This catastrophic piece of imagery doesn’t conjure up images of looking into the fine details. It is a complete waste of words when you could simply ask to ‘look in detail’ which is clear, understandable and dare I say it actionable.


Used when there is any sort of problem but Management don’t want you to realise the severity of the problem for instance, in the weeks before the financial crisis bankers were describing it as there may be some issues with subprime mortgages when a better way to describe it would have been subprime mortgages are blowing up in our face. Using the word issue only hides the severity of the problem.


This can be staff in the company, the board, business partners and even customers – it is basically a catch-all term that includes anyone who has an interest in any issue. Why the word people or an actual description of their relationship to the business can’t be used is beyond baffling.


Rising as an alternative to ‘abilities’ because of the word disabilities and the hope not to offend anyone who suffers from them. However, would ‘skills’ not offer a non-offensive alternative that also acts as a better description of what you are actually discussing.

These are some of the worst examples of business jargon that are used every day in offices throughout the world but not all Management speak is just used in general conversations sometimes it is used in important settings where clearer language is a necessity.

ManagementPerformance Reviews

The whole purpose of a performance review is to improve the work you do for the Business, so being spoken at in jargon will make this a waste of your time and your Managers time. Another Management trick within performance reviews is to give a number between 1 & 5 to rate performance. This can be even more disheartening than simply using nonsense jargon. Because of higher expectations in attainment due to constantly lowering grade boundaries and making exams easier, employees expect to get high rated reviews so are disappointed when the Manager responds with a 3. In actuality a 3 would mean that you’re doing just fine and most staff members will forget that if they praise you too highly they may have to pay you more. This needs to change and clearer language needs to be used for performance reviews because otherwise staff will simply give up.

Remember ‘words are wind’ and you can’t put too much bearing on the corporate jargon your Manager uses. There are some people who have grown tired of this corporate speak and are now seeking to change the way we talk about important issues.

Plain English

Since 1979 the Plain English Campaign have been working against Management jargon, gobbledygook and generally misleading use of language. This campaign has persisted to this day and have created a variety of tools to check that plain English is in use. On their website they have a hilarious way to point out business jargon by randomly generating the kind of things you would hear in an office. Give it a go and you’ll soon see how Management jargon can create a confusing mess of language for employees.

Will you be trying to eradicate Management speak from your office? Share your experiences with us on our social media pages.

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