Simplifying employee communication

It’s no surprise that corporate jargon is on the chopping block. I’m sure every communicator would nod their head in agreement that it needs to go, especially when trying to engage employees in a new strategy.

Need proof? According to a study by LinkedIn and Duolingo, “working professionals say overuse of jargon can complicate communication and sabotage productivity.”

I was working with a client recently—let’s call her Marta—who was tasked with sharing the new company strategy. The leadership team sent her the objective, goals, strategies and measures (OGSM) document with revenue goals and outcomes like:

  • “Optimize/eliminate activities/programs based on benefit.”
  • “Create a differentiated employee value proposition.”
  • “Produce an agile organization by increasing spans and reducing layers.”

The team wanted her to draft an email with the OGSM attached and send it off into the ether. Instead of just completing the task, Marta paused and took these important steps:

1. Educated leaders on how storytelling engages employees

Marta knew she had to convince leaders that a different approach would be the most effective. Rather than only sharing KPIs, metrics and (jargon-filled) goals, she worked with leaders to build the story of how this strategy will help the company succeed and what it will mean for employees’ day-to-day work. This story became the foundation for all communication about the strategy

2. Helped reframe and simplify the strategy

Marta challenged leaders to create a strategy elevator pitch—two to three sentences that give an overview of what’s changing, why and what impact it will have on the company. This forced leaders to put down the charts and documents and talk about the strategy in simple terms.

3. Provided the employee perspective

Putting herself in employees’ shoes, Marta put together a list of questions (straightforward and tough) that employees will likely ask (often referred to as frequently asked questions). Then, she helped leaders develop answers that would resonate with employees in simple, friendly language.

Marta and her leadership team were able to launch with a clear, compelling story and consistent, easy-to-understand answers to important questions.

Next time you’re tasked with sharing a jargon-filled strategy, don’t get caught in the “way we’ve always done it” trap. As communicators, we have the power to teach leaders the most effective ways to engage and motivate employees.

Orange juice




Play Jargon Juice
For fun, play this game at your next leadership meeting: Every time someone says one of these phrases, take a sip of coffee (or your drink of choice). You’ll be caffeinated—or hydrated—in a jiffy!

    1. Boiling the ocean
    2. Herding cats
    3. Ducks in a row
    4. Move the needle
    5. Run it up the flagpole
    6. Drinking the Kool-Aid
    7. Out of pocket
    8. Building the plane while flying it
    9. Throwing spaghetti at the wall
    10. Juice is worth the squeeze
    11. That's crazy talk
    12. Blacklist
    13. Bottom of the totem pole
    14. Beat a dead horse
    15. More than one way to skin a cat
    16. The peanut gallery





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