Banned Workplace Words

One of the great things about my job is I get to work with really sharp executives. I am currently working with a young high potential executive with a global manufacturing company. On our last call he told me he had banned 4 words or phrases from his plant. I was taken aback as “banned” is a strong and potentially negative statement when you are leading, motivating and inspiring your team to new levels of excellence. My client is relatively new to this location and is changing a culture of mediocrity and poor performance.

When I asked him to tell me more, he said “I have banned from our workplace the following: Can’t, Hope, If and UsedTo.” With my curiosity peaked,  I asked him to explain; he gave me the following:

  1. Can’t–There truly are very few things we can’t do and normally when used it means either “I won’t” or ” I don’t want to”. He wants a ” yes we can” mentality in his plant.
  2. Hope–Having hope is necessary but today in our western culture the word hope usually implies a wish. “I hope we can…” or “I hope we meet the deadline…” or “I hope we do better this time”. In this context, the “hope” really is only a wish and their is no real commitment to accomplish the goal.
  3. If–The statements “If_________ then…” or “I can if….” move responsibility therefore accountability to someone or something else.
  4. Used To–“We used to…. or they used to do it….” These statements are looking back rather than forward and he wants his team always moving forward.

My young client’s insights on how to change the culture were spot on and his plant is becoming one of the top performing plants in the U.S.

What other words or phrases would you like to ban from your work place?