Whatís the Buzz Word?
Most of us hate buzz words. But business seems to thrive on the latest and greatest use of benign language to motivate employees. Of course, employees understand these buzz words mean little and appease those who use them by nodding collectively in bobble head fashion.
No one knows why new terms must continually be developed, but one theory is someone writes a book in the hope that their word invention will become the one used by business leaders. This, in turn, will lead to higher book sales, speaking engagements, television appearances and training programs.
Here are a few buzz words that I have found troubling.
Emotional Intelligence, which can be defined as the capacity, or skill to perceive, assess, and manage the emotions of one's self. Emotional Intelligence is nothing more than maturity and the ability to look at positive and negative situations in a calm and sensible manner.
Around the time of the new millenium (between 1998 and 2002), emotional intelligence was at the forefront of management thought. It seemed to disappear for a while but has started to make a come-back lately as a term of choice. In fact, the first International Congress on Emotional Intelligence will take place in Malaga, Spain from September 19 through 21. Make your reservations now before registration fills up.
The research being done on emotional intelligence finds that people work better for leaders who exhibit a high degree of “Emotional Intelligence” or the ability to be calm and sensible. On the other hand, leaders who exhibit a wide range of emotional reactions such as unwarranted exuberance or anger (or a lower degree of emotional intelligence) have a harder time motivating their employees. Here’s a suggestion for these researchers – save your money.
Governance became a big buzz word in post Sarbanes-Oxley era. Governance refers to running the organization in an honest and ethical manner. Outsourcers jumped on the bandwagon with advertisements and advertorials proclaiming their commitment to being trustworthy because they now have governance. Is this to presume that these organizations did not run ethically before they got governance? The use of the word governance has now crept into project management lingo as in, “I was speaking to the project manager about his project governance methods.” We can now assume that using the word “governance” makes one sound smarter than using terms such as benchmarks, milestones or schedule.
24/7 which has morphed to 24/7/365. What happens in 2008, which is a leap year? Will it change to 24/7/366? Only time will tell. With the increased use of the internet, everything is available now 24/7/365. Of course you are not able to speak with anyone 24/7/365, only between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday Eastern Daylight Time, but you can access the web site at any time.
Best Practices – We have now become a society of copy cats using terms such as this to force fit the systems of another organization into our own. The phrase is so overused that it has become meaningless and sickening. A quick search on the SHRM Bulletin Board shows 25 postings for examples of “best practices” in the last month.
A very interesting quote from guidelines for best practices page on the emotional intelligence consortium website states, “The guidelines are additive and synergistic to be effective, social and emotional learning experiences need not adhere to all of these guidelines, but the chances for success increase with each one that is followed.” (Read the Guidelines Here)
Do you find “additive” and “synergistic” and “learning experiences” bothersome?
Our firm is in the process of developing a mandatory annual training program entitled, “The Proper Use of and Abuse of Buzzwords.” We should have it ready for delivery when we determine the level of emotional intelligence of our target audience, develop governance methods in its development, and complete our study of best practices, so we will be able to deliver the training 24/7/365/or 366 in 2008 from our website.
Bob McKenzie, President, McKenzieHR firstname.lastname@example.org