Wednesday, January 30, 2013

This Post Will Teach you Business English (and Maybe Make You More Money!)

Have you ever wondered how much a co-worker was earning? Would you like to be able to click a few buttons to find out? Some companies are now making it possible for employees to see what their co-workers are making. I can hear the office chats now ("Hey, Bill is making $200,000 a year? And he got a $25,000 bonus last year? Are you kidding?").

A Wall Street Journal article discusses this in an article entitled "Psst...This is What Your Co-worker is Paid." Let's read part of the article and then discuss the English idioms, expressions, and words of interest. Vocabulary we'll discuss is in blue.

Office workers have grown accustomed to knowing the intimate details of each other's lives—from a colleague's favorite cat video to a boss's vacation fiasco.
Now a small but growing number of private-sector firms are letting employees in on closely held company secrets: revealing details of company financials, staff performance reviews, even individual pay—and in doing so, walking a tightrope between information and TMI, or too much information.
The warts-and-all approach, most often found in startups, builds trust among workers and makes employees more aware of how their particular contribution affects the company as a whole, advocates say …
Little privacy remains in most offices, and as work becomes more collaborative, a move toward greater openness may be inevitable, even for larger firms. Companies "don't really have a choice," says Ed Lawler, director of the Center for Effective Organizations at the University of Southern California ...
But open management can be expensive and time consuming: If any worker's pay is out of line with his or her peers, the firm should be ready to even things up or explain why it's so, says Dr. Lawler. Management should also show employees how to read the company's financial and performance data, he adds.
And because workers can see information normally kept under wraps, they may weigh in on decisions, which can slow things down, company executives say.
Now let's review the vocabulary in this article:

walking a tightrope between - to deal carefully when in a sensitive situation, choosing between two things (often opposing things). "Tightrope" is a rope that acrobats cross in a circus, very carefully.

TMI - this is an acronym that stands for "too much information". It's used when someone is sharing too much personal information (also called "oversharing."). If your boss tells you the details of his date last night and later you are gossiping about him with a co-worker, you might say, "Greg was telling me all about his date with Lisa last night. She didn't leave his apartment until 3 a.m. TMI!"

warts-and-all - there are two definitions: 1) not trying to hide the bad things (this definition applies to this article; and 2) even with the problems or flaws ("I have some issues with my boss, but I love her, warts and all."). This is a very graphic expression because of the "warts" -- those are unattractive growths on one's body. If you love someone warts-and-all, you're able to ignore those unattractive growths.

out of line with - not consistent with; not at the same level as (Note: If your pay is "out of line" with your peers' pay, it's time to make an appointment with the boss!").

(to) keep under wraps - to keep secret. Example: We're going to give Susan a 20% pay increase next month, but let's keep that under wraps for now.

weigh in on - give one's opinion about. Example: Bill is making $200,000 a year. I'd like to weigh in on the decision regarding his salary increase for next year."

I hope you enjoyed this short Business English lesson. If you're looking for more Business English, please check out the book Speak Better Business English and Make More Money. You'll find over 400 useful Business English expressions in it. It's available for Kindle too!

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