Decoding Dilbert

Decoding Dilbert (Part 3)


Maybe you’ve heard these buzzwords around your office. They’re flying like crazy around Dilbert’s world today—but can they do more harm than good? More importantly, can they teach us something about quality office communication on the whole? Let’s take a look at HR issues and office buzzwords in this installment of Decoding Dilbert.

Decoding Dilbert

Dilbert finishes up a presentation at the beginning of this strip. His visual aid says: PROGRESS. In jumps a wide-eyed co-worker asking about ENHANCED ASSESSMENT METHODOLOGY.

What the heck is that? It’s a long string of words that mean very little. This strip shows us the real HR issue with buzzwords by comparing them with real words. Buzzwords do mean something—it’s just usually a more complicated version of something simple. Dilbert says in his presentation, “We’ll assess our progress.” The co-worker then asks about, “Enhanced assessment methodology.”

After wading through that disaster of a phrase, it becomes clear that the co-worker is asking about the exact thing that Dilbert just promised to do. However, poor Dilbert is still stymied by the request. The co-worker’s buzzwords were so convoluted, that Dilbert wasn’t able to interpret them! And, of course, the Pointy Haired Boss just jumps on the bandwagon and makes everything worse.

This strip deals with the HR issues of communication and company culture vis-à-vis the topic of buzzwords. We talk a lot on this blog about communication, but quality of communication is also important. You can see how demoralized Dilbert is by all of this at the end of the strip.

So, how do you encourage quality communication in the workplace? Start by challenging yourself, and your managers, to ask quality questions on a daily basis. It’s difficult to stop someone from saying something ridiculous, like ENHANCED ASSESSMENT METHODOLOGY. It can be even more difficult to call them out on their poorly used buzzwords in the moment. However, PHB could have countered with a real question about Dilbert’s presentation. This would have shown the silliness of the other co-worker’s question, by comparison. Moreover, the question would have been quality criticism for Dilbert.

The real irony to this strip is that Dilbert’s co-workers have the opportunity to implement an enhanced assessment methodology. They should provide an assessment of Dilbert’s work during his presentation. Instead, they blow it on silly questions and don’t seem to care too much about the answers. Perhaps they have another important meeting to get to…

Are buzzwords one of the HR issues at your office? Or, do you just find them annoying? Tell us your thoughts below!

Decoding Dilbert: Part 1 | Part 2

Decoding Dilbert unravels the real-world HR issues in the cartoon world of Dilbert comics. The series focuses on a different strip every week, with an eye toward improving employee-management relations. Suggest a strip by leaving a comment below, or send Kristin a tweet: @ithinkther4iamb #DecodingDilbert

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