business English

Critical learnings, going forward

Macmillan Dictionary Blog very much hopes this will hit your imagination button :-). Regular guest blogger Stan Carey presents you with a challenge this week. Below you will find a letter written to staff in ‘business-speak’. Your task is to ‘translate’ it into plain (but still Business) English and add your version as a comment below. Stan reckons you can sum it up in a couple of sentences … but that’s no fun. We’ll send the writer of our favourite ‘translation’ a Macmillan English Dictionary of their choice.


Dear employee,

It has come to our attention that productivity drivers are suboptimal, which clearly impacts performance deliverables. We have touched base with HQ and undergone a period of extensive consultation. Actioning this decision-making process requires frontminding streamlined competencies. We anticipate a needs-based harmonisation gap in employee feelings vis-à-vis these necessary outcomes, but we are tasked with maximising the ball-parking of our projected equity outcomes.

Our architectural assets house a raft of measures towards the provision of key learnings for the upsizing of overall skill sets. These operation-centric initiatives push stakeholders’ imagination buttons by crystal balling their high-level ROI expectations. The ensuing agreeance modules accelerate in the core bump space facilities, including food consumption areas, which allows human-sensitive package expansion and back-ended value development. However, executive brainstorming processes suggest that licking the employee envelope has functionality limits.

In short, synergistic knowledgings inputted clear indicators of off-message dialoguing exchanges in semi-salaried discussants’ cooler-based mutual interfacings. In the light of a data-driven assessment, we have scoped the conclusion that these non-centre locality behaviours undermine our company’s alpha potential when factoring in our enhanced string-paradigm alignment to the green growth environment via the meaningful actualisation of our industry-topping integrity footprint.

Therefore our dedication to escalating our core endeavours through transparently iterated evaluative methodologies that represent best practice in emergent collaborative counter-engineering necessitates a decruitment implementation event. This involves non-pensionable productivity management parameters through the creative restructuring of personnel irregularities and necessary throughput of human capital capacity rightsizing.

Parties affected downstream are encouraged to utilise their forward thinking hats and realign their tool belts to the non-ongoing contract situation within a short timeframe totality. We anticipate dynamic new overarching metrics of holistic staff wellbeingness at the end of the day. Surfing where the waves are should galvanise a global blue-sky modality that will roll out and trickle down the Monday mood mountain into the value valley.

The bottom line is that this innovative accounting strategy built on our thought-leaders’ primary policies will cascade the empowerment of partnership change points in the hands-on repurposing of mission critical networks and facilitate across-the-board calibration, transitioning from a space of underperfect monetisation streams to an achievable year-end profit margin, and leveraging consecutive game plans to uptick a full-spectrum benchmarking solution.

We are grateful for your understanding.


For the results of the competition, see this microblog post. Thank you so much for your contributions!

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About the author


Stan Carey

Stan Carey is a freelance editor, proofreader and writer from the west of Ireland. Trained as a scientist and TEFL teacher, he writes about language, words, books and more on Sentence first, Macmillan Dictionary Blog and elsewhere. He tweets at @StanCarey.


  • A tour de force, Stan. Is there no limit to your core competencies? Amazingly, ‘knowledgings’ actually exists – though admittedly two of the first three Google hits come from your post – an achievement in itself.

  • Underling,

    You have failed yet again, which means the company is failing because of you. The powers that be know of your failings. They have given us the authority to act swiftly and brutally. For the good of the company, you will be granted no mercy.

    We can make the company better, stronger, faster. We have the technology. First step: less eating, more working.

    Second step: less talking, more working. You bottom feeders will no longer have the opportunity to even talk about forming a revolution, which to us is more annoying than it is hopeless.

    Step three: say goodbye to the person sitting next to you. You will now be doing their job as well as your own. You’re welcome.

    Now… mush!

    Your failings will not cause this company to lose money. Do you understand? This company is in the business of making money and we intend to make lots of money. You are in the business of doing what we tell you to do and we intend to tell you to do a lot.

    As always, you have no say in this.

  • Dear employee,
    Productivity is lower than normal and this is affecting results. The upper management have therefore been looking into how to improve this situation.
    The office is designed to improve your work, even in the corridors and kitchens, but more is required.
    We think that there is sometimes too much gossip and non-work-related activity going on.
    Unfortunately, this will lead to certain employees losing jobs.
    Therefore, please try to improve your work rate quickly and you’ll all start to feel better about this.
    In this way, we can improve the company’s situation and results to become profitable.
    We are grateful for your understanding.

  • Dear employee,

    It has come to our attention that members of staff have been engaging in informal conversation in the workplace. These employees will be summarily sacked for their own good.

    Remaining employees are reminded that enabling human-sensitive package expansion in a food consumption area is downright unhygienic.

    Yours etc.
    The Management

  • Dear Employees,

    We are in the business of making omelets. You, as it turns out, are all eggs. Those of you who have taken the time to harden your shells during your time here can continue to enjoy your employment. Those of you who haven’t will soon receive invitations from our crack team of HR reps, who will whisk you off, in groups of a dozen or so at a time, to a brief meeting about your very short future with this company.

    This company has been bearing the yolk — er, yoke — of unproductive employees for far too long, and we in upper management feel that such a hard-boiled approach is necessary that we might once again see the sunny side of revenue flows.


    Sue Flay
    Eggxecutive Vice President

  • Dear employee,

    Youse ain’t producin’ like we need youse to.

    We axed da boss and some other guys what to do. They sez we need skills youse ain’t got.

    Youse ain’t gonna like it none, but da boss wants to make the big bucks and he ain’t, so tough.

    Our buildings are fulla classrooms and crap for youse to learn. Our investors think that’s gonna make youse earn them more money. That ain’t happened.

    Youse are wasting time in the cafeteria and around the water coolers. If youse didn’t, we wouldn’t need as many of youse. So guess what: some of youse are toast. Soon. The rest of youse, count yerselves lucky. Don’t worry, be happy.

    We’re gonna do some stuff different, and you’re gonna make da boss a panttload of money. And we’ll be watching youse, capische?

  • [This is the author’s internal dialog]

    To All Wage Slaves:

    You are slacking off, and I’m not going to get my Christmas bonus if you don’t shape up. We paid someone who doesn’t know anything about our business to tell us what to do. You aren’t going to like it. Suck it up—Papa needs a new car!

    You slackers have been taking a little too much advantage of the fine amenities we’ve provided you—like kitchens and bathrooms. Eat, excrete, and get back to work. Jawing at the water cooler doesn’t help the bottom line or increase market share. Tell Mary about your puking little “grandbaby” on your own time.

    We’ve taken a survey among the management team—taking into account productivity, donations to the CEO’s son’s graduation gift, and body odor—and chosen 40% of you to get pink slips. And, no, you won’t get paid for your left over vacation time; this is a business, not a charity.

    You slackiest of slacker need to be out of here by Friday. The rest of you—if you value your jobs—better keep a stiff upper lip and have your nose to the grindstone come Monday. No whinging about how cutting management by 2% would have let those loser keep there jobs—that doesn’t raise the stock price, which doesn’t affect the value of my stock options. If you had any stock options, you’d understand. We’re gonna be rich, baby!

    Back to work, the lot of you!

    [Note to self: have one of those marketing ladies gussy up the letter so it doesn’t sound so harsh. Let the lawyers have a go at it, too, to cover our “bottom lines”.]

  • [This is a ‘translation’ of the first paragraph only. It is as much as I can bear to write. I aimed for a somewhat different approach.]

    Dear Employee,

    It has come to our attention that ‘productivity’ is an abstract quality connected to output efficiency and not, as we formerly believed, a form of transport. Although improved productivity is a desirable goal that business practises should facilitate, it cannot simply be driven like some sort of taxi, and to view it as such is not so much suboptimal as silly. Moreover, if productivity were a type of vehicle, impact with performance deliverables could be most unfortunate because they would probably not absorb the momentum as well as less sturdy deliverables of the usual kind.

    We recently touched base with our boss, Herman Quigley, but you’ll be relieved to hear that we washed our hands before touching the keyboard. The encounter might well be described as an extensive consultation, which is to say he talked for hours. We can’t remember much of what he said, but there was something about a decision-making process and how it might be actioned, so perhaps we should hire a film director to stand around and shout ‘action’ occasionally. That would be at least as sensible as frontminding streamlined competencies, partly because competency is no more a vehicle than productivity and does not create air resistance, and partly because it also doesn’t have a front or back for the same reason.

    Referring to the state of having less harmony than one needs as a needs-based harmonisation gap would itself be unharmoneous, so we’d rather not. It may hurt some feelings to say that allowing employees to sing together in the office is also unharmoneous, but we’d all like some peace and quiet so preventing another racket is very much a necessary outcome. Equity outcomes may prove to be as non-vehicular as productivity and competency, but our instructions are to drive as many as possible off the edge of a high building and park them, however precariously, upon a ball.

  • Minions,
    It turns out you’re not working very much, which unsurprisingly means we’re not doing to great as a business at the moment. The big bosses are rather upset about this, and have been giving me grief about it.

    So I’ve been told to kick you all into line . If you actually did the work you were supposed to, even though you’d much rather be reading language blogs, we might actually get somewhere on our projects.

    We’ve given you a pretty damn good ride here. We like to do this because we show it off to the people who give us money, they think we’re cool and give us more money, but only because they think we’re doing work. So that’s why we feed you free food and give you free haircut. We just want to look cool like Facebook. But now that you’ve annoyed the top bosses they’re going to take away your toys and free waffle breakfasts.

    We’re not entirely stupid. We’ve figured out that you send most of your time on the office email system passing around pictures of LOLcats and that time I got drunk at the Christmas party and someone drew a moustache on me. We’ve also realised that if you aren’t doing your work none of it’s going to get done. I didn’t have to spend so much money on an MBA to figure that one out.

    So we’re going to fire the more useless among you. About time I say. I’m going to do it personally and it’s going to be fun.

    Get used to it. We’re going to terrorize you, but you’ll learn to live and work productively in an environment of fear. If you just did the bloody work then we might actually start making some money.

    We had better start making money, or I’m going to lose my bonuses.

    You all make me sick.

  • Thank you, Michael, for the kind words. This particular competency was an involuntary osmotic upskilling for which I’m delighted to have finally found a use.

    And thank you to all the translators. Your thoughtful and witty contributions have impressed and entertained me no end.

  • All right, settle down now lads,
    We’ve ‘ad our chances, but we ‘aven’t taken ‘em, and the gaffer is sick as a parrot. We need to cut out the fancy stuff, go route one, play the long ball and get it in the back of the net, just like we done in training. We’ve got a quality squad ‘ere, and the fans want silverware, so we can’t just sit around on our arses. Rumour ‘as it, anyone not pulling their weight will be on the transfer list. But it’s a game of two ‘alves, so let’s all get stuck in and get some points in the bag, all right?
    Now get out there and let ‘em ‘ave it!

  • Oh many congrats to Joe for a winning against such stiff competition and to Stan for such a funny and inspiring post. What a delight! So many other fantastic responses too. Brilliant post!

  • And I’ll second Stan’s thanks to you and congrats to Thredder and your congrats to Stan and the other responders and, wait, I’m confused…

    It was an amazing example of “business-speak” on Stan’s part. I was just happy to come across it during “business-hours,” as I’m doing with your comment right now.

    Speaking of which, gotta run…

  • There’s a scandal in the UK at the moment regarding a large empire of care homes for elderly people. One of its top managers was given a grilling this morning on the BBC’s ‘Today’ programme and concluded with the promise that everyone would be properly cared for, and that his company ‘would continue to own the critical mass of homes, going forward’. Life imitating art!

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