What is managerial speak?

Managerial speak, also known as management jargon or corporate lingo, refers to the specialized language and buzzwords commonly used in the corporate or managerial context. It consists of phrases, terms, and expressions that are often vague, abstract, or loaded with business jargon / cliché. Managerial speak is frequently employed by managers, executives, and professionals in business environments to communicate ideas, strategies, and concepts. However, it is often used to camouflage incompetence, lack of understanding or the real motive.

Dr. Jordan Peterson and Dr. James Lindsay on how Karl Schwab from the World Economic Forum uses managerial speak to mask the authoritarian nature of their global policies.

Managerial speak can be utilized to camouflage incompetence in several ways:

  1. Vague and ambiguous language: By using abstract and unclear terms, managers can create an illusion of knowledge or expertise without providing concrete details or actionable information. This ambiguity can make it difficult to assess whether they truly understand the subject matter or are capable of addressing specific issues.
  2. Buzzwords and jargon: Managers may rely heavily on buzzwords and industry-specific jargon to appear knowledgeable and up-to-date. However, using such language without substance or practical understanding can mask a lack of depth or competence in the underlying concepts.
  3. Impersonal and detached communication: Managers who resort to excessive use of managerial speak may create a sense of detachment or disconnection from their team members. This can make it challenging to establish effective collaboration, understanding, and trust, especially when genuine competence and leadership are lacking.
  4. Overemphasis on process and procedure: Incompetent managers often rely on focusing on processes and procedures rather than addressing the core issues or problems at hand. This can lead to a disconnect between strategic objectives and actual results, as well as hinder innovation and problem-solving.
  5. Lack of accountability: Managers who employ managerial speak to camouflage their incompetence may be adept at shifting blame or responsibility onto others or external factors. This deflects attention from their own shortcomings and hinders personal growth and improvement.

It’s important to note that not all managerial speak is used to camouflage incompetence. Some jargon and specialized terminology serve a purpose in specific professional contexts. However, when managerial speak is overused, vague, or intentionally obfuscates true competence, it can hinder effective communication, decision-making, and organizational progress. Open and transparent communication, paired with genuine competence and expertise, are key to fostering a healthy and productive work environment.

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