In an ever increasing competitive corporate world, good communication skills (whether written or verbal) are needed to keep pace with the competition. According to W. Edwards Deming, the twentieth century’s leading advocate for “total quality management” as a business goal, estimated that 85 percent of failures in quality are failures in communication. In other words, good communication can improve a company’s reputation and fortune.
Forbes magazine reported an instance of AMEC Offshore, the big British engineering and construction firm, whose “cost of piping offshore oil platforms dropped 15 percent after intensive work on communication skills.” So, it is obvious; for the rest of our lives, communication will continue to be the soul of every business. For the sake of this article, let’s focus attention on written communication.
It is estimated that, employees spend 20% of their working hours doing one form of writing or the other – from writing emails, to reports, memorandums, proposals, speeches, or responding to a dissatisfied customer’s complaint letter. Enhancing your professional image means you need to write and write well. Honing good business writing skills is, therefore, vital for every employee, especially those who want to keep their jobs, and move up the corporate ladder.
More than ever, managers are confronted with tasks that call for more writing. The struggle for better writing by some (if not most) of them, possesses a limitation that lowers their confidence. And once a manager’s self-confidence is wounded, it has a negative effect on the company.
Companies/organizations willing to keep in the competition will have no choice, but to invest in the training of their staff. According to Grammarly, major companies spend upwards of US$3 billion per year training their employees to brush up their writing abilities.
This is needed to save the company’s reputation and cost. Michael Egan, in his article, Total Quality Business Writing, published in The Journal for Quality and Participating (1995), writes, “computer manufacturer, Coleco lost $35 million in a single quarter in 1983 – and eventually went out of business – when customers purchased its new Adam line computers, found the instruction manuals unreadable, and rushed to return their computers.” Companies have to understand that whetting their staff’s writing skills forms part of organizational branding.
The competition for employment also continues to grow. People literally littered hiring
managers’ desks with cover letters and resumes, but had never received a phone call for an interview. Most of these documents attract the dustbins either because they lack clarity, or are full of grammatical errors, or they were verbose.
According to GrammarCheck, 71.39% of recruiters say they would think twice about employing an applicant if their CV contained incorrectly spelt words, even if the candidate fulfilled all other desired credentials. 72.2% said they had discarded CVs as a result of seeing one or more grammatical mistakes. And 2.3% indicated that “poor grammar is a reflection of low intelligence.” Job seekers therefore, have much more work to do in order to stand out and grab the recruiters’ attention.
Good writing pays. It creates career success, builds confidence, ignites actions, improves relationships, and achieves intended results. But we can all be apprehensive at times when it comes to effective writing. We think one must be a professional writer in order to write like a pro; however, that isn’t always the case. Just like any other skills, good writing can also be learned. All it requires is a good effort. With determination, and consistent practice, you can be the next Ernest Hemingway, Mark Twain and the likes.
So what makes you a good writer, and how can you cultivate the skills? That will be the
focus of my next article.