Communication is important is the workplace and it can affect the relationships between employees and management. Good communication can also be essential to a company's relationship with their clientele and can mean the difference in the success or failure of a business. Written communication can be especially significant because it can be referred to over and over, which be a good or bad thing, depending on how well it is written.
The following is a scenario that has occurred in many work places. A mid-level manager has written a memo and his writing skills are inadequate. He has inadvertently hurt the feelings of some of the employees. Despite his efforts to assuage their feelings, he has been unsuccessful. The employees have become sullen and uncommunicative to him and other managers and he has noticed that they have been short with customers on the phone and in person. You have determined that, although the company has many talented employees in their respective fields, many of the employees need to improve their writing skills. You decide to ask the manager if a workshop to improve writing skills could be arranged for the employees. This will take time away from work and will cost the company money for the workshop to be put on, so your request needs to be accompanied by reasons that this will be valuable to the company.
The writing that students are taught in college may not be sufficient in the work place. Mark Mabrito says, " Academic training fails to include the conditions that govern business writing and writing tone in classroom lectures" (Mabrito, 1999, pg. 1). Newly employed students may have the knowledge base for their jobs, but may never have been exposed to the type of documentation expected of them. Mabrito suggests the use of model documents in schools. Students can act as if they are newly employed and complete the forms according to their employer's specifications (Mabrito, 1999, pg. 2). The work place must make up for the lack of training in school for newly hired employees. This type of training is appropriate for this, and could be used for memos and other documents that deal with employee issues that can create hard feelings. Examples of this would be management's expectations on working hours, vacation scheduling, lunch scheduling and tips on how to handle difficult customers and any other issues that are sensitive. Additionally, employees who find themselves in managerial positions, need to be trained on how to word the above documents or any written communication in ways which are fair to all employees and do not inadvertently appear biased towards some employees. Training would help accomplish this.
Examples of how miscommunication can be costly are everywhere. For instance, a company could order 250,000 units of a product when they meant to enter 2,500 of the product. They have no use for that many, but the order went through with the incorrect number and they have been delivered. Now it is up to the company to find someone to buy these extra units and the time and money spent on this will be a loss to the company. Other examples can be costly in different ways. A memo that uses inappropriate language or is overprinted with an off-color joke could offend someone. Jargon, slurs on races and sexual innuendo are all inappropriate and often the offender means nothing towards anyone in particular when they issue these memos. These writers need some training.
Jonathan Hershberg tells one example of how poor writing can be very costly. He tells a story of a former Philadelphia police officer whose attorney won a considerable amount of money for him in a lawsuit. The attorney requested the court to allow him to recover his fees and Judge Hart say yes, but reduced the sum because the petition to recover his fees was filled with errors. "Hart declared it disrespectful to the court and, as a penalty, he slashed in half the portion of Purcelli's fees that covered the time he spent drafting his legal papers" (Hershberg, 2004, pg. 1). The attorney's inattention to the details of his written petition was costly.
Conflict between employees and management is a problem that will exist is the best of situations. It is human nature to disagree on things that happen in the work place. The above examples show how miscommunication can affect employees' morale and their productivity. Companies may not be as productive in terms of sales and efficiency if employees are unhappy and feel that they are unfairly targeted. Theses are good reasons to consider a training program for employees and managers to help them with their writing skills.
Hershberg states, "on-site writing workshops designed to target a firm's specific needs can be extremely useful" (Hersberg, 2004, pg. 1).
He also gives ideas of what issues can be targeted in writing programs. The first matter would be to make certain that writing is clear and concise and that it is of utmost importance to the writer. He states that being understood by business associates should be a priority and this cannot be accomplished if the writer hides behind embellished writing. The second issue is that many people are afraid of being questioned too carefully about what they write, so they try to hide behind the words they write instead of making their writing easy to understand. This ambiguousness serves to keep them safe from taking responsibility for the ideas. Hershberg also considers the idea that writing rules can be broken to allow for creativity. Additionally, high-quality writing often requires the writer to rewrite. It is difficult to get everything right the first time. Thinking about what you have written, you may discover mistakes or phrases that would be incorrect or inflammatory to the reader. If you have someone reviewing the writer's work, make sure that person knows what he or she is looking for. It can be very exasperating to the writer to not have clear criticism and to the reviewer, who sees no change for the better in the writing skills. Hershberg states this is when the outside help can be the most helpful. Esteem for the reader is an important concern for the writer. The writer must be aware that their reader's time is important and their opinion of you can be formed in a very short perfunctory reading of your submission. (Hershberg, 2004, pg. 1-2).
Once you have made the point that correct writing is important to your company and that there are certain issues to concentrate on, providing information on programs that are available to companies is the next step. Consideration for cost of the programs and for the time required by employees to be away from work are two important issues to consider. There are programs available in the community for people to take advantage of. There would most likely be a cost and there would be time away from work for each employee, including travel time to and from classes.
A second choice might be to utilize programs that would come to your place of business to help with writing skills. There might be costs involved with this program, but the time away from work would be reduced. An example of this type of program is described in an article "Bringing the Classroom to the Workplace," by David Gurliacci. He describes this innovation "the 'Career Coach' is a 38-foot Winnebago converted into a classroom with 11 computer workstations insider and two 42-inch plasma television screens, one of which can be used for instructions for another 10 to 12 workers just outside the vehicle under a canopy" (Gurliacci, 2004, pg. 1). Workplace, Incorporated owns the Winnebago and hires the instructional staff. The funding is mostly from grants and contributions. Employers…