Dictionary of Management Jargon

Dictionary of Management Jargon


What your boss meant to say

Copyright 1996 - 2018 by William Wieker. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author. For information email : mj @ wieker.com


Management uses a great deal of jargon to explain things to their employees. Employees, wishing to clearly understand their management, must understand this management jargon. They must not be misled by the words and phrases used by management. Management jargon is a combination of words, phrases, and sentence constructs which can be used to obscure a statement. Jargon is less specific and thus less clear than ordinary English. When management uses jargon to clarify a point it frequently obscures the truth. Occasionally, management may use jargon to hide their own lack of knowledge when answering employee's questions.
This book attempts to clarify the meaning of management jargon. The explanations of the terms may not be accepted by all. Common use may dictate completely different meanings. New words are added to management jargon all the time. Also, the meanings of individual phrases change over time.
While every effort has been taken in the preparation of this book, the author assumes no responsibility for any errors and/or omissions, or for any damages resulting from the use of the information contained herein.

Sentence Constructs

Managers are less accountable when they are less precise. They can use a variety of ways to obscure their meaning. Their vague sentences can be agreed to by more people. Successful managers gain agreement from a vast majority of employees by the use of vague sentences. Politicians are the real experts at being vague. The following are some constructs that are inherently vague.

Circular reasoning When a reason is the same as the object being explained. Thus, no explanation is offered.
Example: We are giving small raises because we are not giving large raises.

Empty Statements Descriptions which add little to understanding.
Example: Our profits are better than they seem.

I think To state that the following is one's own opinion. The speaker protects the firm by stating something as his own opinion. Also, the opinion is accurately stated even if the opinion is poor. No promise or commitment has been made. The statement must be assumed to be an honest opinion. Few would disagree that it is an opinion.
Example: I think raises will be good this year.

List of rhetorical questions Unanswered queries vaguely outline what is not being said.

Negative declaration Giving a statement about what is not the case. The statement that something is not the case does not say what is the case.
Example: Our president will not be fired. This does not imply the president will not leave the firm. He may retire, quit, pursue a better offer, change careers or be forced out.

Opposite qualifiers When a description contradicts itself.
Example: A small box which is large on the inside.

Proof by example The listing of supportive anecdotal evidence. Giving cases where something has happened does not prove the line of reasoning. Anecdotal evidence can be interesting but rarely reliable.

Statements of desires A statement that something is hoped for does not imply any action is to be taken to ensure the desired outcome.
Example: I want us all to be happy with our compensation.

Vacuous Reasoning When a non explanative statement is given as a reason.
Example: Since this is this year, our sales are good.

Words and Phrases


Accommodate concerns
1 Make room for opinions 2 Make an allowance for a preference 3 Tolerate a different point of view
"We will try to accommodate your concerns"
1 Responsibility for the progress of a project or the progress of the firm 2 A lack of progress may not lead to any disciplinary action
"We are going to build in accountability"
1 To provide words on a topic which may have little or no meaning
"He will address us on the topic"
Aggressive quote
1 A low bid to produce a good or provide a service
"We can get it with an aggressive quote"
Ambush marketing
1 To tie a firm's name to its competitors advertising
"They are using ambush marketing by naming the stadium ..."
See: Title sponsor
Anecdotal information
1 Scattered stories and or reports 2 First information from the field 3 Not scientific or definitive
"Your use of our product provides anecdotal information to us"
Arrows to fire
1 Points to mention and/or tactics to take
"He ran out of arrows to fire"
At some juncture
1 Some unspecified point in time in the future
"At some juncture we will decide"
At this point
1 Now
"At this point we have begun"


Band aid
1 A quick temporary fix which when the fix works, is frequently ignored because of the higher expense to permanently fix the problem
"Can we put a band aid on the problem"
1 Capacity 2 Maximum amount
"We do not have the bandwidth to accommodate your request"
Bearish on
1 Against 2 To assert a belief that something will decrease
"I'm bearish on the economy"
Believe in
1 Behind an idea or in favor of something
"I believe in our marketing"
Benign report
1 A harmless document when it could have been detrimental to the firm
"The benign report is not a problem"
Bounce an idea off someone
1 To get someone's initial impression of an idea they have not heard before
"Can we bounce an idea off someone today"
Break it down
1 Provide details
"He will break it down for you"
Bring them along
1 Give a slow introduction over time 2 Incrementally spoon feed small amounts of possibly misleading information until the whole concept is accepted 3 Withhold distasteful information
"We must be careful to bring them along"
Brush fire
1 Out of control 2 Growing wildly
"Lets stop these reports before they grow into a brush fire"
1 Projected dollar amounts estimated ahead of time for a project 2 the company's overall costs and revenues 3 Any estimate before or after any or all facts are known
"Let's revise our budget after the project starts"
Bullish on
1 In favor of 2 To assert a belief that something will increase
"I'm bullish on our sales"
1 Great lies told by a great authority 2 Overly exaggerated claims of validity about a heterogeneous collection 3 Giving assurance with a quick smile and a chuckle 4 Claiming new information is true because it is common knowledge
"I know better than to believe his bushit"
Business case
1 A multiple year estimate of a future projects costs and revenues
"Can we make a business case for your project"
Buy in
1 Agreement 2 Commitment
"We need manufacturing's buy in before we go ahead with this"
See: Commitment


Calm market
1 A steady price
"We are experiencing a calm market"
Cash burn rate
1 How quickly liquid assets are being spent 2 The number of dollars of cash flow being lost each month or quarter
"Let's get our cash burn rate under control"
Cash flow benefits
1 Either increase in revenue or a decrease in costs 2 A decrease in costs caused by a more efficient production method 3 A production method that requires fewer employees and/or less plant and equipment
"Your idea has some interesting cash flow benefits"
Clamp down
1 To reduce 2 To slow to near zero 3 To spend very little
"We must clamp down our expenses"
1 Conservative National Bushit Conference 2 Nonstop radically conservative propaganda
"I am watching CNBC because they think they are right."
1 The act of standing behind a policy whose value ends when the policy is concluded
"We made a commitment to this"
See: Buy in
Company policy
1 A written or verbal statement of a firm's stance on a topic
"Ours is a very good company policy on that"
Compelling case
1 A winning argument 2 Overwhelmingly persuasive
"You make a very compelling case"
Competitive analysis
1 An investigation to find out if others are already doing the same thing
"We need a competitive analysis before we begin"
Confidence in the future
1 Assurance that a plan of action will work out 2 To imply prior knowledge of future events
"We have confidence in the future"
1 The firing of employees and/or the reduction of plant and equipment
"Our consolidation will close one store"
See: Layoff
Cost containment
1 The firing of employees and/or the reduction of plant and equipment
"Cost containment will lead to a profit"
See: Layoff
Cost management
1 The firing of employees and/or the reduction of plant and equipment
"We need to exercise some cost management"
See: Layoff
Create value
1 Make a better product or service 2 To increase a customer's perception of something's usefulness
"This will create value for our customers"
Crisis management
1 To control and limit the impact of major unforeseen problems 2 A management style that only acts after a crisis has occurred
"We need to exercise better crisis management"
Corporate culture
1 Acceptable behavior at a company
"It's within the bounds of our corporate culture"


Deal with
1 Handle and/or dispose of something in such a way that it may not solve and/or answer anything directly 2 A postponement and/or avoidance
"We will deal with that when the time comes"
Decisive action
1 A change by the firm which will effect its future performance 2 A deterministic stance
"This requires decisive action"
1 The firing of employees
"We had to dehire your friend"
See: Layoff
1 Provide another level to a description 2 Very little extra substance when the starting level is high enough
"Send them the detailed report"
Down size
1 To fire some employees and/or reduce plant and equipment
"The firm will soon down size their production"
See: Layoff
Drill down
1 To increase the amount of detail about a topic, the amount of additional detail is relative to the starting level
"The report will drill down into the issue"
Drive home a point
1 To emphasize 2 Repetition used instead of additional information
"They will drive home the point"


Effect the production
1 To reduce output 2 A reduction in output that is not desired
"The weather may effect the production of corn"
1 To give responsibility and some authority to one or more employees. The amount of authority may not be sufficient to fulfill the responsibility
"His empowerment is over this product"
Expense management
1 To limit wasteful spending 2 To keep a record of what is spent
"We must exercise more expense management to make a profit"
Extended price
1 A high price 2 A price that may be reduced in the future
"The extended price will soon fall"


Feel good about
1 Optimistic 2 Can accept
"Your must feel good about our future"
Financial drag
1 Expenses that are higher than desired
"Waste is a financial drag on us"
Focused on
1 Give a great deal of attention to 2 The attention given by some to one of many things
"He is focused on the problem"
Follow up on
1 To check on progress at a later date 2 To not promise to take any corrective action in the future
"I will follow up on that"
Fox News
1 Propaganda for the radical right 2 NonStop Republican spin 3 The religious right 4 The more conservative the better 5 TV conservative political cult
"No one is more conservative than Fox News"
Free seminar
1 sales presentation
"Come to our free seminar to learn how to buy our product"
Fully paid moving expenses
1 Pay for some part of each major expense incurred for employee relocation 2 Pay only the minimum fees for services such as moving insurance
"We offer fully paid moving expenses"


Get a handle on
1 Investigate and learn about something when very little is known before hand
"We will respond when we get a handle on that"
Give a comment
1 To provide words on a topic that may have little or no meaning
"They need to give a comment on that"
See: Give a talk
Give a talk
1 To provide words on a topic that may have little or no meaning
"Will you give a talk about your area"
See: Give a comment
Given a mandate
1 Told to do something with few employees or resources assigned to the task
"I was given a mandate to do this"
Go a long way toward
1 Get a good start on
"That will go a long way toward solving this"
Good meeting
1 A discussion with nothing unexpected happening 2 A uneventful meeting
"That was a good meeting"
See: Successful meeting
Going forward
1 In the future
"Going forward sales will be up"
1 Detail
"We need to see these reports with more granularity"
Great confidence in
1 To have a belief that something is likely when little proof may exist
"We have great confidence that you will finish"
1 An increase in sales or an increase in the number of employees
"Our firm is growing"


Has far too much time
1 Not busy
"He has far too much time"
Health care delivery system
1 The medical services (doctors, nurses, hospitals, clinics, equipment, and medicines) available to an employee and the method used to pay for them
"We are currently evaluating our health care delivery system"
1 A firm's traditional lines of business which are rarely abandoned
"We will stick with our heritage"
See: Stick to your knitting
Hired gun
1 A consultant with an expertise who may or may not have better knowledge than almost any employee
"Do we need a hired gun"


In Depth
1 To some degree of detail
"It is an in depth report"
In some sense
1 Partially 2 Related in some way
"We are in some sense better off"
In sourced
1 Use resources owned by the firm to produce a good or provide a service
"It was in sourced because we had the people"
See: Out sourced
Interact with
1 To be in physical proximity to or connected to over some communication medium 2 Some amount of talking with
"They can interact with us"
Internal efficiencies
1 Reductions in the cost of production whose cost savings may come from a the firing of employees and/or the reduction of plant and equipment
"We have experienced some internal efficiencies"
See: Layoff
Is hot
1 Current and up to date 2 Topical in the media 3 A growing field
"Email is hot"
1 Questions 2 Problems 3 Points of disagreement and/or other assorted topics that can be brought up but are rarely disposed of satisfactorily
"These issues need to be handled"


Jettison employees
1 The firing of one or more employees who will not be hired back
"We must jettison employees to reduce costs"
See: Layoff
Job ready
1 A prospective employee with all the required skills 2 Older and more experienced workers 3 Retrained workers
"The applicant is job ready"



Lay off
1 A permanent firing of one or more employees 2 A temporary firing where the employees may be hired again
"We lost some good people in the last layoff"
1 A firm with fewer employees and/or less plant or equipment 2 To produce the same amount with fewer people
"We are a leaner company with fewer employees"
1 To use a firm's knowledge to produce a related product or service 2 Attempting to produce more without more plant or equipment
"We can leverage our new knowledge into a new line of business"
Long haul
1 An extended period of time 2 A period of time long enough to allow a good bit of uncertainty 3 A year or more
"The firm will be better off in long haul"
See: Long term
Long term
1 An extended period of time 2 A period of time long enough to allow a good bit of uncertainty 3 A year or more
"Invest for the long term"
See: Long haul


Major player
1 A firm, union, or other participant which is involved or has some influence
"The firm is a major player in their field"
Makes sense
1 A logically correct assessment 2 Within the realm of possibilities
"This decision makes sense"
Manage expectations
1 Limit enthusiasm 2 Prevent over hype 3 Warn customers that their needs may not be satisfied
"We must manage expectations better"
Market research
1 An investigation of the participants in a market 2 Get some idea of which way trends are headed 3 To find out who else is doing the same thing
"We need some market research before entering that line of business"
Market share
1 The percent of total market sales 2 A high percent of a market, determined by a more restrictive definition of the market
"Our market share is growing"
Marketing department
1 A subgroup of employees in a firm which invents strategies for selling the company's products
"Salesmen get their best ideas from the marketing department"
Matrix management
1 Many employees report to more than one manager allowing each manager to have more employees reporting to him
"He reports to three managers thanks to our matrix management"
1 Small 2 Steady 3 Predictable
"We must be patient because of our measured growth"
1 The completion of a part of a project that may be needed by some specific time 2 A point in a project to be reported to management
"We must meet our milestone"
See: Track the project
More competitive
1 To reduce costs by either firing employees and/or reducing plant and equipment 2 A lower price without less profits
"We have become more competitive by cutting costs"
Move on
1 Take action 2 Put something behind 3 Go on to the next thing
"We need to move on these new contracts"
1 Grew large quickly 2 Grew out of control
"We lost control when sales mushroomed"
Multi billion dollar firm
1 A business with sales of at least two billion dollars 2 A firm with sales or assets of over a billion dollars 3 Any large firm
"More large multi billion dollar firms are moving here"


Negative comments
1 Derogatory statements which are not used or appreciated by management
"Keep your negative comments to yourself"
See: Positive comments


Office politics
1 The day to day maneuvering to enhance one's position which can lead to favoritism
"He got his promotion due to office politics"
On target
1 Costs are close to projected costs and/or revenues are close to projected revenues
"Sales are on target"
1 A problem which does not have a clear solution 2 Someone's assignment
"I gave him an opportunity"
Out placement services
1 A bundle of services which can include: resume preparation, letter writing, interview training and job opportunity identification
"We provided out placement services to the employees we fired"
Out sourced
1 Use of resources not owned by the firm 2 Services provided to the firm by suppliers, consultants and temporary employees
"We are producing more because we out sourced"
See: In sourced
1 A general description of the topic whose goal is not clarity
"The president will provide us with an overview"
Over time
1 During the next period of time 2 In the future
"Our sales will grow over time"


Paradigm shift
1 A change in the well known typical example 2 Any major change in the generally accepted point of view
"This new product will cause a paradigm shift"
Pare down
1 The firing of employees and/or the use of less plant and equipment
"We must pare down because of the tight market"
See: Layoff
Partner with
1 A linkage between two firms
"We need to partner with more sales firms"
Pass back to shareholders
1 Use money to either buy the firm's stock, pay dividends, or in some other way increase payments to the stockholders
"We can pass back to shareholders some of this money"
Payroll orphans
1 Employees that were fired
"We created several payroll orphans in the last layoff"
See: Layoff
1 A point of view
"That's true from your perspective"
1 Discuss 2 Mention 3 Verify 4 Notify
"Go ping the accounting group to make sure they have what they need"
Play a role
1 Take part in 2 Have some influence on 3 Be included
"He can play a role because of his experience"
1 The firms point of view which usually changes over time
"It has always been our Position to train our employees"
Position a product
1 An attempt to convince customers that this product will satisfy their desires 2 To differentiate a product from competitors products
"We will position a product at the high price end"
Positive comments
1 An upbeat view 2 optimistic statements
"We like your positive comments"
See: Negative comments
Positive tax benefits
1 A reduction in tax payments
"The new law saves us money because of its positive tax benefits"
1 A step taken before something happens
"We can prevent this by being proactive"
Provide an employee benefit
1 Give employees something of value. Some are paid for by the firm, the employee, or both. Some are paid by the firm and taxable to the employee. Some are chosen by the employee
"We can provide an employee benefit by allowing our people to buy group life insurance"
Push for
1 Recommend 2 Suggest to management
"I will push for your promotion"
Put a spin on
1 Modify a story to make it more favorable
"How can we put a spin on that to make us look good"
Put forward
1 Assert something as factual
"We can put forward these new statistics"
Put off of work
1 The firing of employees who may be hired back again
"He was put off of work"
See: Layoff


Quite some time
1 An extended period of time 2 A period of time long enough to allow a good bit of uncertainty 3 A year or more
"It has been quite some time since last years product introduction"


Ramping down an operation
1 The firing of employees and/or the use of less plant and equipment in a particular part of a firm
"We are ramping down an operation to save some money"
See: Layoff
1 The firing of employees and/or the use of less plant and equipment
"Our office is experiencing some reductions"
See: Layoff
Right sized
1 The firing of employees and/or the reduction of plant and equipment
"We must right size our operations"
See: Layoff
Right questions
1 Current unanswered questions which may impact a decision 2 Questions that will not be answered at the present time
"Your are asking all the right questions"
Rising tide raises all boats
1 If the overall picture improves then everyone will benefit, yet some of those on the lowest levels have difficulty identifying their benefit
"Everyone will benefit because a rising tide raises all boats"
1 Not willing to do something but still open to ideas
"We are reluctant to make any changes"
Renege on
1 Unable to fulfill a promise 2 To do the opposite of what was promised
"They had to renege on that promise"
1 Either an employee or a piece of plant or equipment
"Another resource will be assigned to the project"
1 Provide words with little or no meaning as an answer
"We will respond to all your questions"
See: Give a talk
1 The amount of delay before any action is taken 2 An action taken that need not be informative or definitive
"Customer support needs to increase their responsiveness"
1 The firing of employees and the reorganization of those remaining 2 Some reductions in plant and equipment
"Restructuring will lead to some cost savings"
See: Layoff
1 To review a position or policy 2 A possible change in the firm's position or policy 3 A new position or policy
"We will rethink our stance"


1 The firing of employees and/or the reduction of plant and equipment
"Some sacrifice is needed to increase profits"
See: Layoff
Sales department
1 The subgroup of people in a firm which executes the marketing departments strategies. This group frequently values incentives and rewards
"The sales department must know about our new products"
Share with you
1 Tell you something 2 Give information that is for you only
"I will share with you my secret"
1 Put away 2 Not used 3 Not under active consideration 4 may never be used
"We have shelved your project"
Short term
1 A short period of time 2 A period of time short enough to give reasonable assurance of stability
"We will use that in the short term"
See: Long term
Significant Rigor
1 A non trivial examination
"That will be looked at with significant rigor"
Sit down across a table
1 Have a possibly confrontational meeting 2 A meeting where some work is planned
"It can be worked out when we sit down across a table"
1 A development that is hard to explain away
"We have a situation here"
Speak on a topic
1 To provide words with little or no meaning on a topic with some minimum amount of time set for this activity
"He will speak on a topic for ten minutes at the meeting"
See: Give a talk
Spin off
1 The sale of a part of a firm to new shareholders or to an outside firm
"We will spin off the division to raise money
Squeaky wheel gets the grease
1 A vital employee can get a raise by asking for it
"He got another raise because the squeaky wheel gets the grease"
Stay abreast
1 Keep up to date
"Please stay abreast of developments"
Stay on task
1 Continue on a path toward an objective and not get distracted
"Your can finish if you just stay on task"
Stick to your knitting
1 Staying with your main lines of business while other lines of business may suffer cutbacks in employees and/or plant and equipment
"We can become profitable if we just stick to your knitting"
See: Heritage
Strategic decision
1 A major choice, usually about what market to be in
"We made a strategic decision to enter that market"
Strong market
1 Price is rising due to a large or rising demand
"It is in a very strong market"
See: Tight supply and demand
1 Reality as seen by an unbiased observer and not just the official view of the management
"They have substantive reasons"
Successful meeting
1 Productive discussion 2 An uneventful meeting 3 A concluded meeting
"We had a very successful meeting"
See: Good meeting
1 The rich and powerful
          2 The upper class
3 High income earners
          4 The wealthy
"Supply-side tax cuts benefit the well off and my trickle down to everyone else"
1 The firing of employees and/or the reduction of plant and equipment
"The firm surplused several people"
See: Layoff
Suspend Operations
1 The temporary interruption of normal business activity 2 The permanent closing of an office or plant
"We will suspend operations for now"
Switching gears
1 Changing the pace 2 Changing the topic
"Next week we will be switching gears"
1 A common attribute 2 The combination of two things could produce more with fewer employees and/or plant and equipment
"The synergy from the merger will lead to some savings"
See: Layoff


Take care of your concerns
1 To overcome objections and/or questions 2 Explanations suffice in place of answers
"Let me take care of your concerns"
See: Respond
Take charge of
1 To take responsibility for an activity 2 To guide the activity
"Please take charge of this project"
Take a position
1 Have an opinion 2 Have a point of view
"We will take a position on that issue"
Take questions
1 Listen to questions from one or more people 2 Some response may be offered to each question but none is promised
"I will now take questions"
See: Respond
Task force
1 A group of employees given the responsibility to research some aspect of a firm's business
"The task force recommended this change"
Tea Party
1 A loose associations of radically conservative Americans advocating a smaller government
2 Taxed Enough Already
3 The extreme right wing segment of the Republican Party
"The Tea Party is blocking another government spending bill"
Team player
1 Someone who goes along with policies and gets along with others
"He is a good team player"
1 The firing of an employee who will not be hired back
"He was given his termination"
See: Layoff
Tight supply and demand
1 A rising price due to both a high demand and a low supply
"We can charge more because of the Tight supply and demand"
See: Strong market
1 At a time anywhere near when it is needed
"It is a very timely report"
Title sponsor
1 The firm after which something is named. Firms frequently attach their name to buildings, stadiums, tournaments, and other structures and events
"They are our title sponsor"
See: Ambush marketing
Top line
1 Gross revenues to a firm
"We need to grow our top line"
Track the project
1 Keep management informed of progress made. Management may feel that the project may not be completed on time
"We must track the project until completion"
See: Milestone
Tremendous contribution
1 Great help in the accomplishment 2 Help from someone who may have been one of many in a group
"Thanks for your tremendous contribution"
Trim costs
1 The firing of employees and/or the reduction of plant and equipment with a minimum reduction in production
"We need to trim costs"
See: Trim fat
Trim fat
1 The firing of employees and/or the reduction of plant and equipment. These were non productive inputs
"We can trim fat to increase profits"
See: Trim costs


Use it in conjunction with
1 Compatible to some degree 2 Not a seamless integration
"You can use it in conjunction with our product"


Value add
1 Benefit 2 Help
"Where is the value add in having purchasing's opinion?"
Vesting period
1 The number of years before an employee owns his employer paid benefit 2 The percent owned by the employee that grows over the entire period. This increase is rarely steady and can be from 0 to 10 years or more
"The 401k has a 7 year vesting period"
1 Able to last for a least a while
"It is still viable "


Want you to feel
1 Ask you to believe 2 A desire to be believed with little evidence offered
"I want you to feel this"
Weak market
1 Price is falling due to a low demand
"We can not sell more because of the weak market"
See: Strong market
Well behaved price
1 Stable price 2 A price that is little changed 3 A price which is not falling or rising over time
"We can predict our costs because of the well behaved prices"
Well positioned
1 Desired by customers 2 A claim to satisfy customer's needs
"Our product is well positioned"
Whittle a department away
1 Slowly close a part of a firm 2 To gradually fire all the employees in a section of the firm
"We must whittle a department away to save money"
Wider context
1 A broader point of view 2 Looking at other related topics.
"It is not so important in a wider context"
Work to make it happen
1 Do all that is necessary to obtain the desired result 2 Do what little may be needed to be done 3 Do nothing to prevent the desired result
"Let's all work to make it happen"



Your take
1 Opinion 2 Point of view
"Give me your take"


Make a free website with Yola