Dear ATO, I looked at a role you are currently advertising for a Legal writer to translate complex taxation rules into plain language to help the charity and not for profit sector comply with tax law. I understand the purpose of the role. It would be a significant technical writing challenge, but it is one I would consider doing despite it not being very interesting.

I prefer to do something fundamentally useful for society rather than simply make money, and I can see that this role could genuinely help charities do better business, which is likely to be good for society overall. Unfortunately, the position description and selection criteria are constructed entirely from weasel words, corporate doublespeak and management jargon. I am horrified and alienated by this.

Can you see the irony here? If you want to hire a good writer, you need to demonstrate a commitment to the values you propose: in other words, you must walk it like you talk it. You can’t entice someone to write plain language for you with jargon.

Before you hire someone to rewrite charity tax rules into plain language, you need to hire someone to rewrite your recruitment documents into plain language. Speech shapes thoughts. If you choose to represent yourself in this manner, this language indicates how you think and see the world. I can’t function in your weasel word world.

Below are the selection criteria:

Selection criteria 1: Strategic thinking

  • Focuses strategically
  • Shows judgment, intelligence and commonsense

Selection criteria 2: Achieves results

  • Uses professional expertise
  • Ensures closure and delivers on intended results
  • Implements change and deals with uncertainty

Selection criteria 3: Productive working relationships

  • Facilitates cooperation and partnerships
  • Values individual differences and diversity
  • Guides, mentors and develops people

Selection criteria 4: Personal drive and integrity

  • Demonstrates public service professionalism and probity
  • Commits to action

Selection criteria 5: Communicates with influence

  • Communicates clearly
  • Listens, understands and adapts to audience
  • Negotiates persuasively

Selection criteria 6: Business knowledge

  • Experience writing plain language products for print and online
  • Experience translating complex legal, policy, accounting and legislative requirements and/or technical information into plain language with attention to accuracy
  • An understanding of the issues facing the charity and NFP sector and empathy for the sector

Here is the duty statement:

  • Be accountable for managing allocated resources, setting work area priorities, managing workflows, developing strategies and evaluating business outcomes
  • Deal positively with uncertainty and cope effectively in changing environments
  • Be accountable for accurate completion of work within timeframes and quality requirements, share own expertise with others and guide and mentor less experienced employees
  • Provide specialist advice to stakeholders on the design, development and implementation on a range of internal and/or external communications products and activities
  • Prepare project and work plans detailing measurable milestones and outcomes, monitor project and work progress and manage priorities
  • Ensure the completion of project deliverables that enable the delivery of a range of effective communication and marketing programs and products
  • Understand and comply with existing operating policies, standards and procedures and advise stakeholders on the appropriate course of action to meet changing needs, statutory requirements and/or technological demands
  • Check and confirm the accuracy of content of communication and/or marketing products in accordance with established legislation, policies, standards and procedures for self and others
  • Maintain knowledge of best practice approaches to identify, influence and implement communication improvements
  • Frequently resolve problems using professional knowledge and experience, identification and development of ideas, analysis of alternative courses of action and their implications
  • Research and analyse information and risks and capitalise on opportunities to produce the most effective communication strategy to deliver on stakeholder requirements
  • Work collaboratively with others to leverage off available expertise in the development of communication and marketing programs and products, anticipate and be responsive to changing stakeholder needs
  • Take personal responsibility to participate in the development and training activities of the area, take steps to identify and meet own development and learning needs and provide training to less experienced employees

WTF? I decided to amuse myself by translating some of this shit into plain language:

  • Implements change and deals with uncertainty’ = maintain composure while management keeps changing its mind
  • ‘Commits to action’ =  turn up to work each day
  • ‘Maintain knowledge of best practice approaches to identify, influence and implement communication improvements’ = learn from your experience and get better at your job
  • ‘Work collaboratively with others to leverage off available expertise in the development of communication and marketing programs and products’ = steal other people’s ideas and pass them off as your own to make yourself look good
  • ‘Take personal responsibility to participate in the development and training activities of the area’ = no one else wants to deal with this shit so you have to
  • ‘Communicates clearly’ = something we at the ATO are unable to do. Can you show us how?
I’d rather be unemployed than perpetuate your management speak

2 thoughts on “I’d rather be unemployed than perpetuate your management speak

  • 3 May 2013 at 3:07 pm
    Permalink

    Love this post. Thank you for taking the time to translate the Weasel World’s words.

    Reply
  • 9 May 2013 at 9:53 am
    Permalink

    If you think government bodies are going to change I think you need to get used to being unemployed.

    Reply

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