Unintelligible “minion”-management- babble in the workplace

Unintelligible minion babble

This morning a former colleague and I were exchanging snarky emails as we have tended to do over the past 8 years that we have known each other. Our sense of humor is not for the weak or faint of heart. Which is why we had worked so well together. Now we have both moved on from our past shared workplace and can look back with fondness (not really) at our previous place of employment. Well, we can look back with laughter and that is what we do.

Today we reminisced about the times that we would sit around a certain roundtable with what was ostensibly executive management and we would have to pretend that everyone at the table was equally “equipped to critically think”.  It helped if we had a couple of cocktails beforehand.

Imagine the following. You state something at the meeting that is not necessarily profound but serves as a well-thought out overview of a particular situation.  You sit there waiting for an equally well-thought out response that will further the conversation and lead to an informed decision you can all agree on. The next moment, your head starts to spin, as you hear words but no coherent thought structure. It is as if you were watching the movie Despicable Me and the minions start talking. If you ever watch television with closed captioning on it can be quite hilarious. I watch television with closed caption all the time -ever since I had my son. It adds a new dimension to the television-viewing experience. But I digress.

minion speak

When the minions start speaking on Despicable Me, the close caption states “unintelligible minion babble“.  When I first saw that caption, I Iaughed hysterically. That caption completely captured some workplace conversations perfectly well. It most certainly captures, ironically enough, management speak. I recall many a meeting where I just sat there wondering what a certain person was saying and where they were going with that train wreck of a thought.   I think many of you can relate to this. Go ahead and admit it.

At those moments I came to realize, and be reminded again and again of that realization, that some people just speak to be heard but have no coherent thoughts or processes behind their words. In particular, you see this with management that have no clue how the work really gets done in the workplace. They speak because they believe it is expected of them.   Of course, one does expect a manager to have sound words of insight but when they rather pretend to sew a button on their shirt than provide a thoughtful decision, you might as well put on Despicable Me and listen to the minions speak.

More and more managers these days distance themselves from the actual work and believe they are there in the workplace to just project manage and move their “minions” about.  In the show Mr. Robot, the main character is  a hacker that works for a large conglomerate who ridicules the company’s main boss who pretends to know about computer technology but walks around with a blackberry. As the management team is touring the company it seems to be that they are speaking minion. Again, I bet you can relate at times, correct?

I know that I, at times, appear to be speaking babble to my staff; particularly when I start talking about the latest issues in academia psychology journals regarding data transparency. I guess I am not so much speaking babble as much as it is just speaking geek. I assume my “speaking geek” is a much more forgivable sin than speaking minion babble. Or so I would like to think.

Next meeting you are at, imagine a close caption screen describing the scene. I am sure much of it will entail a sentence or two that notes “unintelligible speak.” Note the caption in your head, nod and give that Oscar worthy performance of caring and understanding. Then imagine what your closed caption notes…..

3 replies »

  1. Holy crap! That is a brilliant idea!! I think the next time I am in a position to hear something I’m not enthused about, I’ll try imagining what the closed caption might be. It would probably be best for the mental health of those around me, too. 😀


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