Why Good Writing Matters — and 4 Ways to Teach It to Your Team
In a time of emoticons, abbreviations, and 140 character-count replies, a three-paragraph email is the equivalent of “War and Peace.” But communication is a vital part of office life, whether you’re a lab technician sharing results or a human resources staffer announcing a new wellness program. There’s a simple way to guarantee that miscommunications happen as infrequently as possible on your team: ensure every person is a good writer.
Clarity is vital to the business world. But in a world that operates at a faster and faster pace, brevity is key. Why write an email when a short text message suffices?
There are many reasons. It’s easy to misunderstand a message that’s hastily or poorly composed. It’s even easier to read the wrong intention in a short email that doesn’t provide the right emotional context. Every member of your team needs to communicate precisely and concisely — in writing and face-to-face.
Mastering the Message
Every office tries to be timely and efficient. Most of them do it at the cost of context and clarity. When you’re pressed for time, the last thing you want to do is over-explain to your client or co-worker. A quick note might actually cause more problems than solve them.
Are you neutral or irritated? Is this urgent or not? Mistakes and misunderstandings suggest that you aren’t well-educated, don’t care about your client’s project, or lack the skills to complete it capably. That’s why poorly written emails affect communications inside your office and customers’ perceptions of your business.
That’s not an impression you want to communicate to your customers or your employees to communicate to each other. Here are four ways to build a team that communicates clearly:
1. Start in the manager’s office.
If a company’s leader works to improve his writing, employees might follow suit.
Show examples of clear and complete communication at a team meeting. Give specific feedback on written and verbal communication. Make expectations clear and note what can be improved.
3. Hire for it.
Looking for a new position? Screen your new job applicants on their ability to clearly communicate, both verbally and in emails.
4. Create incentives.
Reward your employees for fewer mistakes in this area. Then, create an ongoing report so your team keeps up the good work.
It’s proven: People who communicate clearly in writing, speaking, or presentation are perceived as more intelligent, prepared, and helpful. When someone communicates well, it’s easier to trust him. When your co-workers and team members have faith in each other, it’s easier for customers to have faith in your business.
But it’s not all about perception. Businesses that communicate clearly are more efficient, which means they make fewer mistakes and don’t waste valuable time correcting them. That translates to a more profitable business with a better reputation and a stronger, more cohesive team. Now, isn’t that worth an extra few minutes of consideration and composition? According to your business’s bottom line, the answer is clear.
For more than 25 years, Drew McLellan has been in the advertising industry. For 18 of those years, he owned and ran his own agency. Today, McLellan leads up the Agency Management Roundtable, which advises hundreds of small- to medium-sized advertising agencies on how to grow and build their profitability through webinars, consulting, agency tools, workshops, and more. Connect with him on Google+.
Image Credit: shannonyarbrough.com
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