Friday, April 19, 2013
No matter what the nature of your business, the people who work for you are a direct reflection on you and your company. With so much at stake, solid communication skills are essential, and no business owner can afford to disregard the importance of writing skills in those they hire. Assessing the writing skills of job applicants should be a big part of the candidate screening process, and ongoing skills building can help fill in any gaps in the writing skills of those you hire.
One of the most frequent complaints from business owners is that slang, shorthand and texting lingo has invaded the workplace, with many younger workers seemingly unaware that phrases like LOL are not appropriate in the office. Some workers even use texting lingo in their resumes, and texting thank-you notes to hiring managers after interviews. This problem has become so prevalent that the "National Post," one of Canada's largest newspapers, recently ran a story detailing on texting lingo making its way into the workplace, much to the dismay of business owners. Business owners can nip this problem in the bud by providing clear writing guidelines that cover everything from formal business communications to emails and instant messages. Reviewing the sent emails of new hires and correcting any texting lingo can go a long way toward solving this common problem.
While email has largely replaced memos in the modern workplace, companies still need workers who can draft letters. Learning the proper format for office use is essential, and managers should brief new hires on the correct format for letters and other formal communication. One way to ensure new employees follow the established guidelines is to create a sample letter that workers can follow when they draft letters. Bosses should review at least the first couple of letters to ensure that they meet company standards for punctuation, grammar and spelling. According to organizational psychologist David Javitch, writing for Entrepreneur's website, communication can make or break a company. Miscommunication is a real threat to your business, and one that companies must take seriously.
Developing the technical and instructional writing skills of your workers is vital if your company needs to produce manuals, guides and other complex documents. For technical writing, spelling, punctuation and grammar are important, but it is just as important to be able to write succinctly and get right to the point. According to the University of Montana website, terseness and brevity are critical to effective technical writing. Technical writers must provide their audience with clear, step-by-step instructions, whether they are writing an installation guide for a new software package or a manual for a lawn mower. Incorporating illustrations and examples into the guide can help, as well.