Whether job hunting or are comfortable in your current role, employees and job candidates are sometimes left scratching their heads by the kind of messages or speak that is conveyed to them.
Whether from the boss, the employer or the hiring manager, certain workplace phrases leave one trying hard to read in between the lines.
This type of office speak exist for a reason and to decode it you need some insight as explained below:
#1: This is a stretch role
Meaning: “You’ll be expected to do more than what’s outlined in the job description.” – You may be assigned many other duties from time to time.
How to take it on: If you hear a hiring manager describe a potential job this way, it likely means the role has recently been redefined and could be having added responsibilities from other roles that have been made redundant.
Be certain to know what is expected, and what the ‘stretching’ gets you from a salary and career-development perspective.
Part of your due diligence could include asking how your time will be split up percentage-wise between the various roles; whether the “stretching” is temporary or permanent; and how that affects your reporting line.
It is also important to find out how the “stretch role” has affected your remuneration.
#2: The organization recently went through a transformation
Meaning: “Some jobs have changed, and certain employees have left.”
How to take it on: Understand that anytime the term ‘transformation’ is used in the corporate world then certainly some jobs have been lost either for costs reasons, shifts in business strategy or leadership changes.
So while you’re in the interviewing stage, tactfully probe the reasons behind the transformation to decipher where you may (or may not) fit into the new workplace order.
#3: Growth opportunities are fluid for this position
Meaning: “This job doesn’t have a clearly defined career path. It will depend on the circumstances, which we can’t completely predict at this point in time.”
How to take it on: Sometimes companies know they need to fill a position, but they aren’t always sure how that job will map out in their larger organization structure.
As with stretch roles, this ambiguity can be positive or negative, depending on your work style. If you’re entrepreneurial, you may view this as a sky’s-the-limit opportunity. But if you prefer clear direction and a finite set of responsibilities, you may prefer more structure.
Be sure to hear from HR on what training programs have been put in place to guarantee and promote individual growth despite the role fluidity.
Also find out what the next most comparable position might be, so you can get a sense of the level of experience they’re after.
This can help you assess whether the job will be one step forward for your career—or two steps back.
#4: We love your passion and energy
Meaning: “People may not be taking you seriously. You need to work on your executive/professional presence.”
How to take it on: You may think your boardroom high-fives help pump up team meetings, but your manager and other influential senior personnel think otherwise.
The traits or attributes you thought would work to your advantage are certainly sending the opposite signal to the leadership unit.
So if you suspect there’s an unspoken “but…” that follows a manager’s feedback, ask some clarifying questions to unearth what your boss may be afraid to really say.
Create an environment where you can seek feedback from your manager to understand his/her thought about your attributes and how you could change for the better.
Talking the first step to ask for feedback from your manager, gives him/her an opportunity to offer a critique without worrying about hurting your feelings—and gives insight into what behaviors executives may deem worthy of a leader within the company.
#5: You are our (fill in the blank) expert! No one knows this better than you
Meaning: “No one else can do this work. We can’t afford to lose you.”
How to take it on: It is great to know you are the indispensable employee but be wary of professional paralysis or career stunted growth that could creep in.
Create a plan and let your manager know that you have the intent to train someone else to know the ropes around the job in order to have a win-win situation between you and the team.
Let your boss also know you’re looking to grow and expand your expertise so that you can gain additional perspective and make a more impactful contribution to the company.
Discuss other business areas or opportunities you’d like to explore.
#6: We aren’t giving raises this year, but we can offer you a title promotion
Meaning: “We’re cutting overhead, so you’ll have to do more work for the same salary.”
How to take it on: Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do if the company isn’t offering raises, however accepting the title change is great since it could have a positive impact on your future.
The new title will work well in your CV when you choose to look for another job later on. This could after all help you get the money that didn’t come your way due to the salary raise freeze.
So consider taking advantage of this opportunity to add to your résumé.
#7: We are workforce optimizing
Meaning: “Your role and contribution to the bottom line might not justify your salary and we are getting rid of those whose performance isn’t up to snuff.”
How to take it on: During the recessions, layoffs at the workplace can be the order of the day.
Maintain your composure and don’t panic. Also avoid speculation since it may do more damage than really is.
But if you do happen to be a victim of lay-offs, retain your composure, listen to what’s being said, and try not to sign anything or accept an exit interview until you have had a night to sleep on it.
You may, for instance, need time to think about how you’d like to negotiate your severance package beside gaining an understanding of what’s ‘okay’ to say with regard to your termination at future interviews.
If you end up staying in your role for a period of time after receiving the news, you may want to sit down with your manager to get feedback on the areas of your performance that led to the termination decision.
This might help you understand what you can do in the future, if anything, to prevent it from ever happening again.