This article about corporate speak was recently featured throughout multiple news organizations and can be seen HERE as originally published.
One of the great challenges for large organizations is communicating in a way that is both engaging and informative. Inclusion of corporate-speak often becomes an issue and can render this goal unattainable.
Corporate-speak can become part of the fabric within large companies, with everybody repeating the same terminology and phrases. Often, it is precious few that truly grasp the intended meaning. This can only complicate personal interactions, especially when combined with other factors such as employees working remotely.
“I am working right now with several technology companies on projects to encourage communication between engineers, sales and services. This is challenging because different functional areas get into the habit of working in silos. Often, teams are located in different countries and time zones–this is a huge problem in high tech firms because it affects the customer experience and can slow innovation,” says Cynthia Kay, president of CK and Company of Grand Rapids Michigan.
Kay is a communications consultant who works with large corporate clients. Her team audits the internal communications program and then trains teams away from one-size-fits-all approaches, generic presentations and uninspiring existing communications pieces that tend to dominate in the corporate environment.
“In large companies, we need to re-teach people how to communicate, so they can move beyond ‘corporate-speak’. We go back in time with clients to try and recapture the way people used to communicate when they were down the hall or around the corner from colleagues. Two vital components of this work are storytelling and encouraging communication across divisions.”
When large organizations seek outside assistance, it’s often focused on crisis communications at the very senior level or on approaches to flashpoint situations internally.
The field of crisis communications is dominated by law firms, largely due to the advantages of attorney-client privilege when dealing with sticky situations. The best-selling book, Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler is an excellent example of strategies for dealing with flashpoint situations. It has sold millions of copies over nearly two decades.
However, consultants such as Cynthia Kay argue there is a vast amount of poor or ineffective communication within large corporations that need regular focus. The sheer volume, they argue, is evidence of its potential to impact a company’s performance on a daily basis.
For positive change to occur, Kay says there must be real buy-in from senior management as it relates to corporate speak. “Great companies reward good internal communication and encourage the breakdown of silos so that people communicate across departments, across job functions and between divisions,” she added.