Speak Clearly; Say What You Mean

An invitation showed up in my inbox today.  It was for a training program or webinar of one sort or another.  Nicely formatted, professionally done.  With photos of the owners of the training company looking earnest and enthusiastic about what they are offering.  This was the tag line:  “Empower your people to take ownership of their own engagement.”


Looking at the buzzwords per pixel, I’d say it would be pretty challenging to cram any more in there.  Scott Adams’ Dilbert has made a career out of skewering this kind of business-speak.

The cynic in me thinks that the purpose of the advertisement was to put in front of me the current, hot topics from the business best seller list on Amazon, hoping that one of them would grab my attention and entice me to click through.

That kind of language has the opposite effect on me though.  I can’t tell for sure what the point is, so I move on in my busy day.

It’s the same thing in your work and interaction with your team.  Helping people to be motivated to do what needs to be done involves being precise and clear about where you are going, how you would like to get there, and how you’ll know you’ve arrived.

Direction, expectations, measures.

To be fair, the invitation goes on to promise “concrete action steps” I can “take immediately … to make an impact on my organization’s bottom line.”  What is not obvious is how those action steps will emerge from all the empowering, owning, and engaging that came before.

Tell your team where they need to end up -- what’s the finished product or service?  Then, what are the parameters within which they need to operate?  These could also be called guidelines or ground rules.  Finally, how will the team monitor its progress and results?  What are the important things it needs to keep track of along the way?  It probably knows what these are better than you.

Bottom line:  Speak in plain language, treat your team like the intelligent, capable beings that they are, stand back, and be amazed at the results.