(Hail Mary is an annoying business term and is just one of the 212 Most Annoying Business Phrases Managers Effuse, Confuse, and Overuse detailed in the hilarious must-have guide for every workplace: The 30,000-Pound Gorilla in the Room. Available right now on Amazon.)
A term sports borrowed from Catholicism has been (for decades) overused and misused in business. A Hail Mary in sports is a last chance prayer, if you will.
In football, it’s a long pass by the trailing team into the end zone as time is running out in a close game. In basketball, it’s a near full-court shot as the clock expires by a team down three or fewer points.
In both cases, the Hail Mary is the team’s last chance to avoid a loss. In business, annoying managers overuse and misuse Hail Mary to vaguely explain the action needed to save a deal, keep a good employee from leaving, or get a project back on track.
It’s annoying on the surface and annoying in its inability to provide any sort of direction. Saying, “We need to throw a Hail Mary on this one,” allows weak leaders to feel contributory without actually contributing anything.
It’s just their way of shedding their responsibilities and heaping everything onto anyone within earshot.
Oh, and it’s their way of saying, “Look at me; I just used a cool sports analogy to prove I’m not just serious, but also seriously hip.” Ugh.
Replacement phrases: No replacement needed; just try being a leader and giving your team clear direction and actionable advice.
See also: Next Level
The 30,000-Pound Gorilla in the Room is available on Amazon