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david brent - The W1nners' Club


Management is a skill that requires you to deliver instructions to your team members in the most efficient way possible. There often isn’t the time available to construct bespoke phrases for every situation you face, so rather than telling a member of your team to: “Call the client and get their preliminary thoughts about the proposal we sent them for next year’s contract,” it’s far easier to simply instruct them to, ‘get the ball rolling.’

As pretentious as such phrases are, they allow even the most dim-witted employees an opportunity to implement instructions without the inevitable cock-up being a foregone conclusion.

The problem with such terms however, is that they’ve become so overused in working life they now resemble TV chef Jamie Oliver ie. they’re everywhere, all the time for reasons completely unknown to most.

We suggest you use management jargon sparingly so that when you do feel compelled to ‘throw down the gauntlet’ to staff members, your words will carry at least a modicum of authority.

Here is a list of sayings a manager should avoid using unless you want to end up sounding like David Brent from The Office:

1.    How Long is a Piece Of String?


As long as its length, surely? People that use this phrase usually do so because they don’t have an answer to the question they’ve just been asked. Just because your paltry response is accompanied by a wide-eyed look that intends to demonstrate that you know the answer – it doesn’t. Just admit you haven’t got a clue and let your team member foul up their given task with dignity.

2.    Playing Devil’s Advocate


The one thing Mephistopheles, Old Nick, Satan, Lucifer or whatever other name the devil goes by these days is not in need of – is an advocate. The whole point about being the devil is that you don’t give two hoots what anyone else thinks of you. If you had something intelligent to say in response to whatever it is the person talking to you has said, there’d be no need to run to the defence of the most evil entity existence has ever known to make your point valid. Playing devil’s advocate is the best way to sustain an argument with somebody without having anything worthwhile to offer the discussion. Avoid this term – it’s crap!

3.    A Win-Win Situation


The term ‘win-win’ was clearly invented by somebody with an obsessive compulsive disorder. The ruthless pursuit of symmetry in something as inherently one-sided as winning can only have come from the grey matter of somebody that needs to check if they’ve securely locked their front door five minutes after securely locking their front door. You win a football match, you win a contract and you win somebody’s heart – in all the scenarios above, imagine if you had to share the victory with your main opponent! Avoid the term ‘win-win situation’ because if you’ve won and your opponent has won, none of you have won and it should be declared a draw!

4.    Blue Sky Thinking


Blue sky thinking is the activity of trying to find completely new ideas that are not limited by current thinking or widely-held beliefs. Why a Blue Sky was chosen as the metaphor in this case is anyone’s guess. It would surely have been better to use a more accurate term like ‘just consumed half a joint of high grade skunk along with a mugful of absinthe’ thinking or ‘took some LSD about 30 minutes ago’ thinking, as both these actions are pretty much guaranteed to make your mind work in ways that most people would consider out of the ordinary.

5.    Get the Ball Rolling


The reason a spherical object rolls is because the top of the sphere is not experiencing any friction and the bottom of it is.  To ‘get the ball rolling’ in corporate speak therefore means you should get one part of a project moving forward without any hindrance but simultaneously do your utmost to railroad another part of the same project at all costs. Any manager that takes such a bi-polar approach to things probably shouldn’t be in charge!

6.    Move the Goal Posts


Ah, the proverbial moving goalposts of working life. The great misnomer, is that unless you’re playing sport, the goalposts are constantly moving. Money, relationships, health; there isn’t a single moment anyone experiences that isn’t one wrong move away from complete and utter disaster. Anybody that thinks the goalposts aren’t constantly moving should try forgetting their wedding anniversary and see if it affects your sex life. Not only will the goalposts have moved, you might find that you’re not allowed anywhere near the stadium as well!

7.    Back to the Drawing Board


The above is one of the greatest euphemisms available in the English language and can be readily used by anyone that has made a colossal mistake but still wants to sound professional and more importantly – like they have ideas to remedy the original blunder.  If you use the term ‘back to the drawing board’ too often in your professional career, you’ll soon have people wondering if you know what you’re supposed to be doing every day.

8.    Keep me in the Loop


The Loop is a magical place frequented by managers that keeps them feeling managerial. To be outside the loop is to be a manager no more so as a result, any self-respecting senior executive must be kept in the loop at all times. The career trajectory of a junior staff member will therefore ultimately be determined by what extent a manager feels like they are being kept in the loop. Please note however that keeping your boss in the loop can mean anything from grassing up co-workers to offering sexual favours.

9.    Pick your brains


It’s good to have your brains picked from time to time as it provides unquestionable proof that you actually have one. If nobody ever asks you if they can pick your brains it means you’re either really bad at your job, you’re about to get sacked or all of the above. If the boss ever asks if he or she can pick your brains it doesn’t mean they want to know anything, it just means they’re trying to tell you that they don’t think you’re a complete waste of space. Make sure you enjoy having your brains picked next time because it might not happen again!

10.  All Hands on Deck


………presumably if somebody turns up late for work you’ll make them walk the plank as well will you? You are not aboard a ship, you work in an office so start acting like it!


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