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Training and Education

My manager just returned from a week-long seminar, and now he is using all sorts of new jargon and contrived speech patterns when communicating with us. It's driving us crazy. Things were not going so badly before, and we don't know what to do now.

Your manager literally and figuratively bought the words and wisdom of the seminar leader. He spent a week seeing and hearing the marvels of his newly-acquired communication skills, and now he is ready to apply them in his department. The problem is that the department is not ready for him.

It is most uplifting to attend a seminar and come back with some visible and measurable skills that can be instantly applied to a department. At the same time, although various new technical skills can be plugged-in without too much disruption, new interpersonal skills are not as easy to implement. They worked well in the week-long seminar where everyone was using them, but they can have a Martian-like quality when brought back to one's own department.

If your manager is intent on applying his newly-learned communication skills, the first and ironic step that he needs to take is to communicate with all of you about them. In failing to do so, all he has succeeded in doing is to unilaterally introduce a key change in the department. Your resistance is the normal and typical employee reaction.

Before allowing his new approach to generate further distress for you and your fellow employees, sit down with him and ask for more information about this new communication style. Many organizations actually expect managers who return from seminars to conduct their own mini-seminar within the company in order to bring all of the employees up-to-speed on the newly-acquired knowledge. You should ask him for such a session.

At the same time, presumably you have some degree of understanding of your manager. Is he the kind of person who jumps from one managerial fad to another, only to leave his career path strewn with discarded buzzwords, modalities, and systems over the years? If so, you can sit patiently because this new approach too shall pass. At the same time, if he is a cautious, reflective, and deliberative manager, your career path is about to have some entirely new road signs.

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