The One Skill that Can Make or Break a Company – a guest post by speaker Katie Hoffman
Many companies start with writing – jotting down ideas of a business plan on a napkin, drafting a 5 year-plan, writing down ideas for an investment pitch, and formulating business agreements. But most companies don’t realize writing only becomes more central to a business growing and thriving as employees communicate with each other, clients, and the public.
Just as a thought experiment, what percentage of your work-related exchanges are done in writing? Have you noticed some exchanges that used to take place on the phone or face-to-face have shifted to being done in writing? Think about how you communicate with clients, colleagues, and supervisors, or how you network and maintain relationships – how much is done through email, inter-office messaging systems, texting, or social media platforms? Think about how you plan, execute, report on, and evaluate projects — how much of it is done by writing, sharing, editing, and presenting documents? How much information is communicated in writing about your company through websites, marketing, etc.?
Just working through those questions, most of us would say our workplace interactions and productivity rely heavily on written communications. But the next question is, how much can go wrong and how much time can be wasted if people in a business struggle to write professionally, clearly, and effectively?
As a result, myriad problems can emerge. Inner-office communication culture can slip due to written messages not being respectful or courteous enough, prospective clients can pass on working with a company because they’ve made a judgment about the intelligence and credibility of the company based on problems in written communications, networking and marketing efforts can fall flat because messages are poorly organized for their genre or not appealing to the intended audience, and the list goes on.
While many people earn a position at a company because of their desirable set of skills for performing job duties, many people are not confident about their written communication skills – particularly if they are writing in forms and genres that are new to them. Also, while many companies make efforts to train employees on industry-specific systems, they overlook the need to articulate their business writing expectations and train individuals to meet them.
This is where Appendance, Inc comes in. Writing is our thing. We are a company composed of women with graduate degrees in writing who have been teaching writing for colleges and companies for years. We want to urge companies to think about how writing factors into cultivating the company culture they want, and then we help them get people at all levels of their company to write effectively for that culture. Some companies want regular training on effective writing to show the value of this skill set and help employees strengthen it, others have just a few individuals that need to elevate their writing skills through individual coaching, and still others want our expertise in crafting or reviewing the writing they make public under their company name. Our services are listed on our website, appendance.com, and we regularly offer writing tips, tricks, humor, and rants on our blog and through our social media channels.
Writing involves skill sets, and we all CAN get better at writing. This means companies can be more intentional and effective with all the ways they do business through writing, and they can craft the company culture they want, simply by improving the writing skills of the people in their company.
About the Author
Beyond leading professional writing seminars for Appendance, Katie Hoffman teaches Composition and Literature at Colorado State University. She earned her Bachelor’s in English Literature from Ferris State University in Michigan and a Master’s in Rhetoric and Composition at Colorado State University. She has experience training employees, leading professional development workshops, copyediting, and conducting individual, group, and online writing consultations. Outside of work, Katie is a trail runner, mother, bookworm, and swimmer.
You can check out Katie’s panel 5 Easy Ways to Improve Your Email (and other business writing) on Tuesday February 26th, 11:00am-12:00pm @ The Articulate.