When did you last
perform a skills review on yourself? The consequence of not doing this
at regular intervals is you jeopardize your own future.
There are two types
of skill sets everyone has to work with to ensure their success in today's
business world. The first one deals with the information and trends
specific to your field of work. Are you keeping up to date with the
changes in your industry? The second skill set-and one that is overlooked
by "myopic" individuals-involves the ability to communicate
your expertise to others.
There are numerous
people in the work force who have failed to update their writing skills
in the past five years. And that is too bad because the nature of writing
has changed significantly with the influence of technology.
If your office is
tracking the most recent trends, you are preparing an increased number
of faxes and internal memos and-if you are on the leading edge-you are
probably sending e-mails to your clients via the Internet. Second, the
number of formal business letters is most likely down from a few years
ago when you had a secretary to type them, check them for spelling and
punctuation and arrange the lay out on the page.
I come across a
large number of faxes and e-mails when I conduct a full-scale analysis
of an organization's written communications. Here are some of the most
common errors, I see in these documents, as well as in regular business
correspondence, that rob writers/senders of their credibility:
1. Too wordy. Reader
is left with the impression that the writer is either too busy/disorganized
to do a good job or is trying to hide the fact he is not clear on the
information or the reader's needs.
2. Poor tone. Writer
projects the image of a dictator; the reader is irritated.
3. Features but
no benefits. Writer too involved with her own needs; reader not encouraged
to follow the writer's call to action.
4. Spelling errors.
Writer appears lazy. Can't he look up a work or use his spell checker?
Can't she even proof-read?
5. Incorrect punctuation.
Writer loses points. The reader is more knowledgeable in grammar.
It is a competition
out there. If you ignore your communication skills-written or electronic-and
the impact they have on others, then don't be surprised if someone who
demonstrates these skills replaces you or becomes your boss. And, you
will have no one to blame but yourself.