Management Buzz 10/03

Rid your company of its jargon; why closing the last week of the year might be a smart idea
Magazine Contributor
3 min read

This story appears in the October 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

You Don't Say
Companies whose communications are clogged by jargon can make a clean sweep by running their documents through "Bullfighter." It's not software imported from Pamplona, but a jargon screener that runs in Windows 2000 and XP environments. It's offered free to the public by financial consulting firm Deloitte & Touche--for purely altruistic reasons: Its consultants were wasting so much time trimming consultant-ese from their work that they realized their antidote could help other companies, too.

Jargon offenders are those who are so immersed in their own world, they can't seem to say what they mean in plain English. That doesn't matter if they're only talking with each other, but it's lingual suicide if they can't convey expertise to clients, says Marcia Yudkin, a corporate writing coach in Goshen, Massachusetts.

Yudkin suggests using Bullfighter to see if your Web text is as easily understood by the outside world as you think. An alternative is to use the readability score embedded in Microsoft Word, which bases readability on the number of syllables per word and the number of words per sentence. "Unless you're selling to Ph.D.-level engineers," she says, "you're looking for an eighth grade readability [in your company documents]."

Gone Fishin'
The entire work world may not be shut down between Christmas and New Year's, but it often seems so. "If you want to do business, good luck. You've got a 30 percent chance of finding someone on the other line," says Randy Wedding, principal of Wedding, Stephenson & Ibargüen Architects Inc. in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Closing down for the last week of the year is a smart idea if it's in line with your customers' and competitors' schedules. But also consider the employment status of employees-salaried and hourly-to be sure the time off is structured equitably, says Rebecca R. Hastings at the Society for Human Resource Management in Alexandria, Virginia. Employees also need to know how the work load will be redistributed so it all gets done despite the shutdown.

Wedding requires his 20 employees to bank time off by working some Saturday mornings in the fall to cover two of the year-end days. The other two are paid vacation days. Those are the only days employees get off during December, he adds-to keep up with clients' projects when work is in full swing.

Some companies actually profit from others' shutdowns. TMI Coatings, an industrial contractor in St. Paul, Minnesota, cleans the plants and machines of companies that shut down.

British insurance provider Amulet Group fired
employees in May by sending them a text message on their cell phones.

Joanne Cleaver has written for a variety of publications, including the Chicago Tribune and Executive Female.

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