How do you improve your employees’ writing?
Why improve your employees’ writing?
If you spend hours away from your own work because you’re busy correcting your employees’ emails or are constantly having to rewrite your own business proposals, you’re certainly not alone.
According to the Australian Government Style Manual (the benchmark for Australian business and government writing) approximately 44% of adults read at literacy level 1 to 2, which is between the primary school reading level and that of early secondary school level.*
This means there’s an awful lot of us who haven’t really had the training to read, let alone write, complex documents like business proposals or sets of instructions.
Spending excessive amounts of time on writing and rewriting documents puts a huge dint in any organisation’s productivity, as well as having a significant impact on staff morale. If people feel their work is being checked or don’t know why something they’ve written isn’t up to scratch, they can become frustrated and anxious.
But all is not lost.
Firstly, understanding that there is a problem is the most important step in moving towards a solution.
So, what are your options for improving your employees’ writing?
- Ask your training department for a program on better business writing
- Coach your people yourself and set up checklists and templates for better business writing
- Bring in a communication professional to tailor workshops on better business documents
No matter which option you choose, you need to be clear about what the outcomes you need and how the program will achieve them.
Ask your training department for a program on better business writing
If you’re lucky enough to have the resources, you could ask your training team to create a program that will upskill your people in business writing. They might outsource this or run something in-house. Whichever route they choose, make sure you are specific about what problems your people have and ask how the course will benefit them. It’s always wise to ask them to document what measurable outcomes you can expect.
Coach your people yourself and set up checklists and templates for better business writing
If you’re not able to access help from a dedicated training department, you could take some time with each of your staff so you can coach them in how to write better. The sorts of things you might focus on might be to create a checklist that everyone uses before they start writing: What is the document’s purpose (what is it for)? Who will read this? What do I want them to do after they’ve read it?
You might also create a few examples of commonly used documents so that they can see what you expect them to write.
Or you could create a style guide and templates for them to use, so everyone is writing in the same way. For example, you might decide that the company is always referred to as ‘we’ and ‘us’ when talking about staff and expectations, or that active voice is always used (‘We passed our sales expectations in 2022’) and not the passive (‘The sales expectations were passed in 2022′).
I’ve created a handy cheat sheet you can download to help you with how to manage coaching your people.
Bring in a communication professional to tailor workshops on better business documents
Of course, you may not have the time or confidence to do either of the above, so you might engage a communication specialist to take the task off your hands completely. The best communication specialists will take the time to listen to you so they understand your business and where your staff have knowledge gaps. They will then develop a training program to bridge these gaps.
As with an in-house team, you should ask an external consultant what their process is, what measurable outcomes you can expect and if there will be a post-implementation review. I always build a three-month review in to my programs so that the resources I leave you with are improved and enhanced and any further gaps addressed, based on your feedback.
So, there you have three different approaches to improving the writing skills of your people.
If you have any questions or would like to know how I can help you improve your employees’ writing, contact me today.
*Australian Government Style Manual (https://www.stylemanual.gov.au/accessible-and-inclusive-content/literacy-and-access#:~:text=In%20Australia%3A,adults%20read%20at%20level%203) accessed 3 March 2022