How to impress your colleagues

How to impress your colleagues

Does your knowledge of buzzwords extend way above the corporate ladder? Find out with the ultimate office game.

Overheard in an 8am Zoom meeting: “Rise and grind people; get pumped for our blue-sky think-tank. I’m talking elevator pitch, thought shower, back-of-the-envelope ideas. We’ll deep-dive later then circle back into forward-planning. These are unprecedented times, and we need to P-I-V-O-T!”

If you know your pandemics, you’ll agree that anyone who lived through the Spanish Flu or Plague also experienced ‘unprecedented times’ – just with a lot less tech. Welcome to the era of working from home (WFH), where COVID clichés are spreading at up to five times the rate they ever did in offices.

Video meetings across this wide-brown, tech-rich land of ours are swarming with them. If you’re nimble, that means you have the skills to pivot which also means you can take on board every new buzzword that works its way into your corporate lexicon. Congratulations, you like your job, or you’re just good at pretending you do.

But what if you find yourself answering every Teams call with muted mic and video off (“Sorry, team, someone’s using the microwave and it messes with the wifi…”) dripping futile tears into the coffee mugs on your desk, while silently (because you don’t know if you’re still on mute) asking yourself, “How can I listen to this drivel for a second longer?”.

Buzzwords are a necessary evil. Use them strategically and you’ll totally own the meeting. But you can have too much of a good (or bad) thing. As our Teams Tragic (above) has shown, being trapped in a lingo loop is not everyone’s idea of fun. And if you’re not having fun, it’s suddenly a metaphor for your bigger career picture. Maybe you crave a job where people simply say what they mean so you can just get on with it. Or perhaps you want to be skilled enough to use buzzwords convincingly (if only to get colleagues to listen.) At this stage of the pandemic, working from home has given you plenty of time to reflect on your role and whether you’re happy with where it’s heading.

It doesn’t matter which side of the jargon fence you’re on. This article is for you. And you. 

For some, it’s a corporate jail sentence. For others, poetry.

Pass the hand sanny, it's time for a career clean-up

Ever asked a colleague for help with something, only to be told, “sorry, I have limited bandwidth?” It’s like, you know you can do your job, but you lack (or you’re too embarrassed to use) the flashy jargon to convince your manager. Making things worse, there’s always that one colleague who manages to insert terms like ‘agile-deep dive-strategise-feedback loop’, effortlessly into single sentences without coming up for air. You despise them while grudgingly admiring their verbal dexterity.

If you’re not ‘gaining traction’ in your current role, maybe there’s a gap in your skillset. It’s an entirely valid reason to go back to study. You see, study gives structure to what you already know while giving you wonderful, knowledge-based confidence to spout meaningful buzzwords and verbally slay your adversary when the opportunity arises.

You want to stay in your industry? Good. That gives you a solid base to build on. Next, think about where you want your career to be in say, five years’ time and how you can get there. One way is to keep working at the same job and fast-track with a graduate certificate or diploma. Or, start smaller with a single unit so you can practice balancing work-study-life-finances until you’re comfortable. Either way, you’ll be mentored, enjoy amazing industry engagement and watch your professional development soar. Both are savvy options for sharpening your skills and giving your career purpose again. And you can start your study from home (SFH), right away. 

Avoid WFH burnout. SFH and (re)master your career

When your boss cuts you off with, “Let’s take that offline” (AKA: shush), you’re torn between scheduling an F2F to prove your idea is mission-critical and wondering if going offline is technically possible when you’re WFH (and if you even care.) 

Where’s the casual Monday morning desk hover, comparing weekends with your teammates to ease yourselves into the working week? How can you be really sure that you understood what the presentation meant since there’s no colleague to ask? And what about the post meeting corridor debrief?

Working from home is a double-edged sword. At best, it makes you more productive – both in your professional life and your life admin. At worst, you feel socially isolated and have no idea if your colleagues even like what you’re delivering.  Self-doubt creeps in and consumes you. Little by little, you begin questioning your whole career. Rinse, repeat.

It’s like piling isolation on top of iso.

That’s not how it should go down.  You deserve fulfilment (and a fuller pay cheque, while you’re at it.) You can't control how others respond to you. But you can control how things pan out by equipping yourself with the most powerful piece of career PPE known to humankind: knowledge.

Hello, master degree! Our strong industry connections could see you embarking on a course that’s tailored for professionals with a range of postgraduate courses that feature experiential learning at their core. A postgraduate diploma or master degree looks good on your CV and has the kind of credibility, that goes beyond corporate corona claptrap.

Career feeling a little lost, right now?

Unmask a new professional pathway 

You’re on a team video call, sharing your screen during an impressive-looking presentation that you’ve spent days working on.

A colleague butts in with, “Can you can loop me into that previous slide?
“Sure. I’m happy to run through it again.”

Another one chimes in, “It has lots of moving parts and I’d like to take a deeper dive.”  
“OK, let me run through that”

A third one offers, “We need to go granular because there are so many moving parts.” 
“Certainly, let’s all run…. through…that….”

Then suddenly, you’re trapped in cyberspace with a bunch of demonic internet people, wondering who they are and how this PowerPoint prezzo could set off such a powerful existential crisis deep inside you. Uh-oh, someone’s using the microwave again. Call ended at 22 minutes and 35 seconds.

You need to find people you connect with. Ready to go to uni for a second round?  

Let’ pause here. There’s no need to leap headfirst into a new career just yet. The act of returning to uni learning is gentler than that. It lets you explore your next move (oh, the possibilities!) so that when the world is more settled, you’ll do it gracefully and confidently.

Starting from scratch is scary. But it’s also a new beginning and that’s exciting. Getting back into the swing of academic life (what’s an essay again?) means being super-organised. But there are benefits to being a second-time-arounder; you’ve got your adult life sorted for starters (all-night parties and significant other dramas are hopefully done and dusted) and there’s so much support. Already having one career to your name is a bonus because it gives extra depth and direction to your learning. 

So, if buzzwords (amongst other things) are turning out to be your career buzzkill, head back to uni (remotely, for now) and rediscover the joy of learning. 

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