Poor communications results in an average of $62.4 million wasted per company every year. There are many factors that contribute to poor communications. One notorious example is excessive use of business buzzwords. Such jargon consists of technical terms that are so overused that they have lost meaning, such as “ideate” and “disruptive.” Many business buzzwords started as industry terminology, but have lost substance through widespread use.
Why Do People Use Jargon?
Approximately 65% of American workers use jargon at least two to three times a week. People use this language to emulate how others in their industry talk or shorthand for communications. However, more common reasons for why people actually use business buzzwords are:
- They want to sound professional or intelligent.
- They want to hide unpleasant messages or dodge questions.
- They are trying to be politically correct.
- They find it easier than thinking of a more precise word.
Why Should You Stop Using Jargon?
Jargon results in in vague messages. In a 2017 survey by American Express, 88% of respondents admitted they only pretend to understand office jargon. Meanwhile, nearly 50% of this group also said that they use such phrases frequently. “The single biggest problem in communication,” said playwright George Bernard Shaw, “is the illusion that it has taken place.”
Avoiding buzzwords in business writing can be beneficial. Your communications will have a greater impact:
- You will sound more sincere. A study by New York University found that subjects perceived complex sentences with jargon to be less truthful than clear and concise sentences.
- You will minimize confusion. With so many ways to interpret jargon, it is likely that your recipient walks away with a different understanding of what you had intended.
- You will connect more personally. Using jargon with someone from outside your industry can make them feel excluded. Overuse of jargon can also make you sound robotic and inhuman. Even in business, people expect a more conversational tone. Meet employees where they are.
- You will sound less pretentious. Jargon-filled language can seem annoying and fake. If your messages are filled with double talk, employees might not be receptive. That can lead to a breakdown of trust.
How to Improve Your Communications
For heavy users of jargon, changing your ways won’t happen overnight. Start to pay closer attention to what you say or write. Often, a second look will help you avoid buzzwords in business writing.
When you create communications, remember the following tips to better connect with your audience:
- Know your audience. If you are talking to a technical audience about a technical subject, then, of course, incorporate technical language. However, if your audience is a mixed group or if your communication is about a non-technical matter, keep it simple. No matter whom you’re talking to, nobody wants to have to read your sentences twice in order to understand them.
- Use simple language. Be clear and concise. Limit your use of jargon, acronyms, and abbreviations. A good rule to follow for general communications is to make sure that a ninth grader or lower can understand you. Popular media, like Reader’s Digest, is written at that grade level. Microsoft Word will tell you the reading level of your document.
- Take a communication audit. Look at the last email that you sent. Do you spot any of The Hartford’s “60 Business Buzzwords to Delete from Your Vocabulary”? If so, maybe it’s time for a change.
Think carefully about your word choices. Don’t isolate your audience with business buzzwords.
Do you have an employee recognition program? If so, you’re in good company. According to a recent Society of Human Resource Management/Globoforce study of 738 human resources professionals, 80 percent of organizations do as well. Fifty-six percent said their program has a positive impact on recruitment and 68 percent praised its value for retention.
With those benefits in mind, it makes sense to promote your employee recognition program internally. After all, employees want to be praised. Praise yields higher productivity, innovation, and job satisfaction. A study by Cicero found recognition to be the most important driver of employee performance. At 37 percent it ranked higher than increased pay or promotions.
As with many programs, communications is the key for success. Messaging should be clear. It’s important to make sure key stakeholders are on board from the start. Doing so shows high-performers that you’re paying attention. It also engages and informs your staff around the idea that employees are valued for their contributions.
Here are five ideas on how you can communicate the value of work well done.
1. Create a Brand for your Employee Recognition Program
Branding your program adds credibility. Employees are more likely to view content branded from the company versus content branded from your carriers, says a study from Prudential. The brand of your employee recognition program should connect staff with what you need them to think, feel and do have a successful program. Once your brand is in place and recognizable, your employee will want to be a part of the program.
A brand is a look and feel that is unique to your company. It could be as simple as a catchy tag line or a logo that connects employees with the vision and values of your employee recognition program. Incorporate the brand in emails, posters, publications, postcards, employee handbook, company branded website, videos, webinars, intranet, etc. Communicate about the employee recognition program often. Repetition is the key to retention.
2. Publicize your Employee Recognition Program
Make it easy for people to get involved or apply to the employee recognition program. Help them to understand what’s required to earn recognition and how they can be successful. Highlight examples of past high achievers and invite employees to share their stories.
Announce employee recognition activities in team meetings. Keep communications consistent and as frequent as possible. This will keep the program front and center for all employees.
3. Provide Tangible Rewards
Inspire managers to personally recognize employees for their efforts. Employees often keep personalized company-branded plaques and certificates on their desks or walls. Those materials may inspire their co-workers.
Your employee recognition program may include monetary rewards, like cash or gift cards. Other rewards include extra time off, tickets to sporting events, accessories like watches or new electronics like headphones or tablets.
Pair all rewards with thank you notes. Research out of Harvard Business School found authentic thank you’s from leaders motivate employees. 180 employees watched short videos that personally thanked them for contributions. Compared to a control group that didn’t watch videos, those employees had a 7 percent increase in performance.
4. Showcase Success Stories
Employees love to read about their colleagues – and to be inspired by them. That’s why it’s great to showcase those high-performers who make a difference. Feature them in organizational publications, on intranets, and other media as appropriate.
Schedule a specific day each month to launch and broadcast these communications. Create social gatherings to promote your employee recognition program. For example, every third Wednesday is employee recognition day. Your company can provide snacks in a common area. The tangible rewards, mentioned above, can be distributed in front of colleagues. Seeing their peers lauded may encourage other workers to put forth extra effort.
5. Get Leadership Sponsorship
Employees like the continued support of upper management. Yet, a Gallup poll of over 30,000 workers showed only one-third received praise for a job well done over the past week.
Have leaders promote your employee recognition program so employees know management is on board. This helps the employees understand that the company is invested in their growth and recognizes their contributions.
Make sure your employee recognition program is honest, authentic and aligns with your company’s values.
Welcome to 2018! A new page in the calendar means time to set new intentions. 45% of Americans make a new year’s resolution. The most popular are losing weight, exercising, and quitting smoking.
While those are worthy ambitions, have you thought about making a career resolution instead? This year, devote time and energy to improving your performance at the office. Here are 3 ideas for how to make 2018 your best career year yet.
1. Learn a new skill
Ask yourself: What are the gaps in my skill set? What do I need to know to be more productive in my job?
Once you have your answers, investigate the best way to learn. Consider your time and your budget. Find out if your company offers reimbursement for professional development activities. If not, instead negotiate for the time to learn via low cost or free methods.
Fortunately, there are many platforms to help you meet this career resolution. Industry conferences are the costliest and most time-consuming. However, you can fully immerse yourself and pick up multiple skills from experts in your field. Your local community college is another resource for in-person professional development courses.
If virtual is more your speed, Coursera and EdX offer online classes at a variety of price points, including free. There are also countless YouTube tutorials and TED talks available to stream. If your gaps are “soft skills,” like time management, you might benefit from one of those videos.
Taking initiative to acquire a new skill shows your boss you are serious about improving your performance in 2018. Lifelong learning is a mark of intelligence and commitment.
2. Find or be a mentor
A mentor is a powerful ally as you climb the career ladder. Their feedback can help you make important decisions.
If you are a new graduate, a former professor may transition into the role of mentor, especially if your career lines up with your major. If you are further along in your career, search your professional network. On LinkedIn, look for a second degree connection whose career path you admire. Ask common acquaintances for an introduction.
Live networking events are another opportunity to meet a potential mentor. Your chamber of commerce is a good resource to find such opportunities.
Becoming a mentor and sharing your wisdom is another take on this career resolution. The best mentoring relationships are give and take. You and your mentee should both learn from each other. Providing career guidance to another can grow your self-confidence in your job.
If you want to share what you’ve learned, it’s easy to find a mentee. Many college alumni associations offer mentor match programs, pairing you with a student or young alumni. Your company might also have formal mentoring opportunities.
Technology means you don’t need to be in the same city or country as your mentor or mentee. Skype sessions, FaceTime, and Google video hangouts are free ways to have a conversation across time zones.
3. Vow to unplug
A digital detox can benefit both your mental health and your job performance. Being connected 24-7 gives the flexibility to work anytime and anyplace, which is a blessing and a curse.
Our brains can only handle so much information at once. Have you ever missed important details in a meeting because you were focused on checking your inbox? Interpersonal communication depends heavily on body language. What subtle clues are you giving coworkers in a meeting or friends over dinner if one eye is always on your phone?
There are several ways to temporarily unplug so you can meet this career resolution and improve your productivity. Install internet blocking software to minimize distractions when trying to hit deadlines. Charge your phone outside of your bedroom each night. Try not checking your work email on a Sunday. Use the time you save to engage in good-for-you, analog pursuits like cooking, exercising, and reading.
A mental reset means we face Monday morning better able to handle the challenges of a new work week.
Taking on a career resolution in 2018 can open new doors of professional success. By improving your relationships and your skill sets you increase your value at work. That sets you on the road to making a true impact in your job.
Lately, I’ve been researching different strategies to achieve goals. Whether a goal is personal or work-related, long- or short-term , taking the time to plan and prepare is key finishing with a home run! Here are six ways to help you efficiently and realistically reach your goals, so you are more likely to follow through with success:
1.First and foremost, a goal should be motivating. If you create a goal that’s too lofty or too small, you may become discouraged or bored, and you may find yourself departing from it early on. Think of something that interests you, or something that you always wanted to do, like taking extra courses to brush up on a skill, or starting a new blog. Once you’ve completed one goal, you’ll look head to the next one.
2. Try not to focus so much on the end result or the deadline of a goal. Rather, set a schedule to consistently work towards reaching it. For example, if you know you’ve been planning to finish a good book you’ve been putting off reading, schedule a time every day to spend a half hour reading. Before you know it, you’ll be finishing up the last chapter.
3. I am big on visualizing things to make them come to light. As you think of a goal you want to do, try to visualize achieving it. What will completing your goal feel like? What result will this accomplishment bring you?
4. Make achieving your goal fun. Having incentives can be a good way to keep motivated. For example, I use my iPhone fitness app to track and store my fitness goals. Once a fitness goal has been reached, it rewards me with a digital medal. Accomplishing a goal and getting a reward makes it all the more worthwhile.
5. Manage your goal more effectively by breaking it down into smaller tasks. It may be easier to see your goal as a series of small steps, rather than one large project. When putting your goal into smaller steps, you may be able to manager tasks better. This gives you a sense of accomplishment as you move closer to attaining your goal.
6. Write down your goals in a journal or display them on Post-It notes in plain sight. According to a study done by Gail Matthews at Dominican University, people who wrote down their goals accomplished significantly more than those who did not. Turning a goal into reality may require you to see it on paper and let that be your starting point. A good quote taken from an excerpt of a self-help book states, “Goals are the road maps that guide you to your destination. Cultivate the habit of setting clearly-defined written goals” – Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart.
Most importantly, stay positive and look ahead. When it’s time to start thinking about setting goals, be ready to dive in and set a schedule to help complete them by your target date. Make it fun and realistic. If it gets to be too overwhelming, break your goals down into smaller tasks to complete one-by-one. Having a plan and working toward your goals on a consistent basis will help you stay focused on the task at hand.
[Dear reader: To fully share our team’s diverse perspectives with you, we have asked our summer interns to contribute to our blog during the time they are with us. These young professionals, who are preparing to lead the next generation of marketers and communicators, bring a unique and valuable voice to the conversation. You can learn more about each of our interns through their bylines at the bottom of their posts.]
Every day, you should strive to be a little bit better than the previous day.
As Aldous Huxely once said, “There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.” If you wake up every day with that mindset, the challenges and everyday adversity you face will be conquered and you will truly seize the day.
Taking leaps and strides in the right direction every day begins with your attitude and how you start your day. It is important to find a routine that works for you and is effective. Finding what allows you to start the day off on the right foot is a key to success and enables you to come into the workplace with a positive and open mind. There are many different avenues you can take in regards to starting the day, whether that be going to the gym for a run or enjoying a nice warm cup of coffee.
Another attribute that is a stepping stone for success is setting weekly goals, and quotas you want to meet. For example, at the end of the week, take a sticky note and spend five minutes writing down what you want to accomplish during the upcoming week. Consider having one goal be a stretch, but if accomplished would truly be an outstanding achievement. That way, if you’re not completely awake Monday morning when you come into work, you will have some sort of structure and a sense of direction that will set you up for a productive and successful week. I personally find that when I start the day off by working out or going for a run I am more productive. I run every day before work and really believe that endorphins are the best coffee there is.
It is important to be doing work to generate results — the point of work is not simply work to be busy. If you want to be successful, you need to have purpose and an end goal in mind. Proper planning prevents problems and helps you reach that goal. Preparation and a plan of action will help you succeed at whatever you want to accomplish.
Ryan Barr is a senior majoring in Marketing and Sustainability with a minor in Media Analysis at Arizona State University, in Tempe, AZ. The facet of marketing he enjoys the most is the creative process of coming up with an effective and revenue-generating campaign.