Are You Guilty of Manager Speak in Your Office?

You may have heard it, you may even be guilty of using it but one thing is for sure, “Manager Speak” is everywhere. 

Its use has spawned such TV shows as The Office and movies such as Mike Judge’s excellent Office Space, and whether you work in London or Los Angeles the chances are there is a manager near you using it right now. 


If you don’t know what I’m talking about then it can mean one of only two things, either you’re very lucky or you are the guilty culprit. 

Have you ever caught yourself using phrases like: “we’d better not let the grass grow too long on this one?” Do you always give “110%” (or some other implausible number over the statutory 100%?) If these phrases sound like something that you say at work, or even worse at home, then I’m sorry: you have contracted “Manager Speak.” 

In many cases it can creep up on you without you noticing. Sometimes you’ll hear someone saying something like “my door is open on this issue” and think to yourself, “Yes, this is something that I should be saying.” It may even go in sub-consciously, so before you know it you have become somebody who says “We are still optimistic things will feed through the sales and delivery pipeline.” 

If you have contracted the deadly Manager Speak disease then don’t worry, there is still hope for you yet. Admitting that you have a problem is the biggest step on the long road to rehabilitation, but so long as we all “go forward together” then it is perfectly possible to make a full recovery. 

So why do people insist on using such ridiculous terms around the office? 


Historically, language has always been an important tool to show your authority or gain admiration. Great orators who can bind and weave complex linguistics into poetic verses have been looked up to from the days of Chaucer, and millions of people every year still flock to the theatre to observe the beauty of Shakespeare’s rich tapestry of language first hand. 

So why was Shakespeare hailed as one of the greatest linguists the world has ever known and your boss is still stuck writing reports? Because the great Bard didn’t use phrases like “We need a holistic, cradle to grave approach”. 

Workplace language simply doesn’t work if it is full of meaningless phrases that don’t make any sense to anyone. If you are in charge of people then you need to be clear and concise in your language so that you can effectively convey your message. By using these over the top terms you might think that people will admire you but at best you will come across as confusing and at worse like you have no idea what you are talking about. 

Using such language can have a de-motivating effect on a workforce and can even jeopardise the respect that your staff have for you as a manager. Don’t just fill the air with meaningless words, have a clear idea of what it is you are asking of people and put it into the simplest terms possible. This will not only avoid any confusion but also give you the image of a manager who has a clear strategy and the knowledge to implement it. 

Don't de-motivate your employees with senseless phrases!

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this blog then don’t worry, there is still time to change. “Touch base about it offline” with your employees and simplify the language you use to ensure you are “sprinkling your magic” as an effective manager. 

This is a guest post from Alan Grainger. Alan writes articles on issues surrounding the marketing, advertising and PR world for The Corporate Gifts Company. They are a global supplier of corporate gifts; that help companies enhance their marketing efforts and provide incentives for their staff. 

He would also like to credit the BBC and The Plain English Campaign for their resources in writing this article.