How to speak “Management”

Senior Consultant & Co-founder

| 4 minutes

For most people, picking up a new language is a challenging task, no matter how smart they are.  Gaining proper eloquence… getting the nuances… it can take years of practice.

Now, there is one language you can pick up in a matter of hours – and while it may be most relevant for only a select number of people – it may have more to do with your professional development (and possible promotion) than any other language you could acquire.  The name of this language is “management.”

Yeah, those people "up there" have their own language.

Maybe that explains why they don’t seem to make sense most of the time, and why most people don’t understand what the hell they’re talking about.  But that fact is, many of them DO know what they’re talking about – only they’re talking in a language we don’t understand.

This article will attempt to offer an introduction to the language called “management” by presenting some of the key words in this language’s vocabulary.  Remember, language is more than just a means of communication, it also represents mindset – and effective management is all about being in the right mindset.

The reason this language can be picked up in a matter of hours and used fluently in a matter of weeks is that it doesn’t have tens of thousands of words, like regular language, and there are no unique grammatical rules.  There is only a short list of key words you need to learn and fully internalize in order to gain ownership of this language:

To help get you on your way to speaking fluent “management,” this article will focus on a few of these key words.  Let’s get started with the two most important words in this list:  Asset and Burden.

In English, the definitions of the word “Asset” are[1]

–noun

  1. a useful and desirable thing or quality: Organizational ability is an asset.
  2. a single item of ownership having exchange value.
  3. assets,
  • items of ownership convertible into cash; total resources of a person or business, as cash, notes and accounts receivable, securities, inventories, goodwill, fixtures, machinery, or real estate ( opposed to liabilities).
  • Accounting. the items detailed on a balance sheet, esp. in relation to liabilities and capital.
  • all property available for the payment of debts, esp. of a bankrupt or insolvent firm or person.
  • Law. property in the hands of an heir, executor, or administrator, that is sufficient to pay the debts or legacies of a deceased person.

[1] http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/asset

In Management, the definitions of the word “Asset” are: 

–value

  1. The degree of your contribution to your manager’s ability to make better decisions.
  2. The enhancement you bring to the overall resources your managers have available.

If you want to speak fluent management, you need to understand that whenever you speak Management, your message has to be directly related to the most pressing decisions “they” are facing at that time, in context of the Objectives “they” are trying to achieve.
When your message does not relate to these pressing decisions, you will quickly be tagged as a Burden – a drain on their resources. And since their resources are already extremely limited, they will quickly tune you out and gradually reduce the amount of interaction with you.

However, if you consistently ensure that your message is directly related to the pressing decisions they are facing, and if you construct your message in a way that helps them make better decisions,  you will quickly be tagged as an Asset – an enhancement of their limited resources – thus increasing their willingness to interact with you and ultimately enhance the level of influence they allow you to have on their decision-making process.

The first thing about being an Asset has to do with your own orientation.  What are you focused more on, the problem at hand or the possible solutions to that problem? 

When you are Problem Oriented, the nature of your message is likely to be Descriptive – offering endless details and facts about the current situation as well as the path that led up to this current situation, without any suggested solutions.  Problem orientation is about looking back, searching for excuses (and in many cases, for people to blame).  Being Problem Oriented is the fastest way to becoming a Burden.  Until humanity finds a way to travel back in time, the past cannot be altered, making this mindset a total waste of your manager’s time (and yours).

Therefore, to ensure that you are perceived as (and are in fact) an Asset, you need to discard the Descriptive approach, and adapt a Solution Oriented mindset, usually indicated by Analytical messages that focus on possible solutions to the current problems in a way that is based on clearly defined Assumptions, Alternatives, and Early Indicators. (For more on these terms, see our article “The five core elements of an effective presentation” or visit our video center at http://learn.debate.co.il).  

Forward Framing

The fastest way to becoming Solution Oriented and adopting an Analytical approach when speaking Management, is to always begin your message with a reference to the future, specifically relating to Objectives you know the person you are communicating with needs to achieve.

For instance, when questioned by their managers as to why they need the extra resources they’ve recently requested (bigger budget, additional personnel, etc.), most people offer Descriptive answers that relate to their current work load, and the list of problems they have due to a lack of resources.  From their perspective, these problems are what they face on a daily level, so it’s understandable that they are preoccupied with them.  Their managers, however, need to keep their eyes on the bigger picture, understanding exactly how whatever extra resources they approve will help meet the overall objectives they are committed to.

Therefore, when you speak Management, you need to always use Forward Framing ensuring that you always incorporate into your message an answer to the question WHY?  Why should you be given extra resources?  Why should your recommendations be approved?

Example:

Question: 

WHY do you need extra personnel?

Problem Oriented:            

We are extremely understaffed and we’re already running behind schedule.  We can’t handle the current workload without extra personnel.”

 

Solution Oriented:            

“With the extra personnel, we should be able to guarantee meeting the deadline without falling behind on the rest of our workload.”

 

Fluent Management:        

If we want to secure future contracts with this client, it’s imperative that we meet the current deadline.  We can either delay some of the other projects we are currently working on – in which case, I would like to discuss prioritization with you when you have a chance – otherwise, we need extra personnel to stay on schedule with all the current projects.

 

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