Read D.F.'s bio and previous columns
January 14, 2008
Scare Your Employees
With Meaningless Business Nonsense. It’s Fun!
One of the most disturbing questions to have to silently ask yourself in
the work setting is this one:
“Should I know what that means?”
is the bane of new employees, vendors who sold themselves as experts on
your industry and general business know-it-alls everywhere. Here’s a
“Bleeklebock, I want you to start applying the Incendiary Principles
when you work on the Miller account.”
“Of course, D.F. I
should use the Incendiary Principles.”
“Think of it as an example of Disinclineation. Apply the Incendiary
Principles with Disinclineation in mind.”
“Got it, D.F. That’s
what I’ll do.”
Five minutes later, when Google turns up no mention of Incendiary
Principles or Disinclineation, Bleeklebock is in full panic mode. He
grabs his cell phone and steps out in the hallway to call his friend
Roger, who’s never heard of them either.
“You’d better ask him what they are,” Roger says.
“I can’t! I already
acted like I know!”
Well. That was a gamble.
Now, do you want to know the best thing about being the CEO? You think
it’s the big salary or the corner office. It’s not, although I’m giving
neither up. It’s not even getting to make all the decisions. (After all,
you have to live with those.) The best part of being the CEO is being
able to amuse yourself scaring your employees. It’s fun. And nothing
scares them more than when they think you expect them to know something
and they don’t.
This makes for a good game. Here’s how it works. All you do is walk
around using a phrase, expression or acronym that is utterly
meaningless, but you use it in such a way that it appears anyone who
doesn’t understand it will be hopelessly lost in the workplace.
For example: “We especially want to make sure we’ve hit budget before
GKO. Get me a projection for how likely we are to hit budget before GKO.”
Your employees’ heads are filled with questions they don’t dare ask.
“What the hell is GKO?” “When is GKO? What will happen if we
don’t make budget before it? Am I supposed to know what that is?”
The funniest part is when you say it to a roomful of, say, four
employees. Not only are they reluctant to ask you, but they’re just as
nervous about asking each other. Each one thinks it’s possible that he
or she is the only one who doesn’t know what GKO is. No one wants to be
the first to admit to being clueless.
The casual tone in your voice is the key. If you make a big deal out of
it, it will sound like you’re announcing some new concept. People will
feel natural asking you to tell them more about it. So you don’t say:
just realized the key to everything! It’s Rescreameration!”
Now you’re just begging for questions. You need to be cool about it. So
you casually mention during the staff meeting:
“Run it in hard copy. Have each page double-proofed. Then make sure you
L.Q. it. After that I’ll initial it.”
Make sure there’s no eye contact when you say “L.Q. it,” or it will look
too much like you’re trying to get noticed. Trust me. They’ll hear you.
Now, if you’re going to play gags like this on your employees, you have
to plan for the likely consequences. If you need them to get a project
done right away, you can’t afford to have them all on their cell phones
trying to find someone who knows what L.Q. is. Or GKO. Or
Rescreameration. Or Disinclineation. Or the Incendiary Principles.
You have to decide how long you’ll play it out before you tell them it
was a gag. And of course, you have to plan for the possibility that they
might be mad at you. If you want to avoid that one, I suggest you hire
people with a sense of humor. If you can find any.
Now, if you’re a CEO or a management consultant reading this column, and
you’re recoiling in horror at the thought of CEOs playing mind games
with their employees, please note: I am not suggesting this is a
brilliant business principle. I am merely suggesting an effective method
You do what you think is best for your business. Just don’t forget to
EHRW. I think you know what I mean.
© 2008 North Star
Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.
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