Bad writing is more than just an annoyance.
Sure, a typo or two makes you stumble over words, pause in your reading and then shake your head at such a silly thing. However, bad writing and a lack of clear written communication can have an impact on productivity and leadership potential in the workplace.
A survey by Josh Bernoff (author of Groundswell and Writing Without Bullshit) revealed that 81 percent of business professionals cite bad writing as a time-waster at the office.
During a 40-hour work week, the typical person spends 25.5 hours reading. These could be emails, reports or other material. Over the course of a year, imprecise communication and typos could cost someone several hours of work.
Here’s one scenario. Mike can’t make sense of a four-paragraph email from Jerry who could have said the same thing in two sentences. He tries calling Jerry but can’t reach him. Mike then takes the elevator down two floors to talk to Jerry in person. After a 15-minute discussion, Mike understands what Jerry intended to say.
Mike just wasted more than 15 minutes on something that could have been cleared up if Jerry’s email was succinct in the first place. Magnify this difficulty times the number of employees at a firm, and you can see where this is headed. A lack of productivity costs companies in employee time. Lower productivity, lowers profits.
Instead of long introductions in emails, get right to the point.
Write in precise terms, and use short sentences.
Think about the main point of the email before composing it. Edit and revise the email at least twice before clicking Send.
Staff training on how to write effectively can save a lot of employee time later. Provide concrete examples and on-the-job feedback to drive the point home quickly.
Leadership and Writing
According to Josh – “Fuzzy writing allows fuzzy thinking.”
Leaders should use active voice to make their points. Otherwise, people may perceive weakness from the person if he/she cannot write in decisive terms.
Here’s a simple example. Consider the difference between “The project should be completed on time and under budget ” versus “We will finish the project in six months.” The first sentence is relatively vague, whereas the second sentence sets a clear, decisive stance.
Leaders who don’t write in direct, active language show a lack of confidence, clarity and direction. This filters down to employees who lose faith in the leader. An executive’s lack of writing ability can hurt morale, reduce productivity and increase employee turnover.
Grammarly conducted research using LinkedIn profiles.
The grammar website found that people with proper grammar and spelling in their profiles, earned higher promotions compared to those who didn’t.
Employees who failed to reach the position of director within the first 10 years of a career had 2.5 times as many typos in their LinkedIn profiles.
Therefore, lack of writing skills can cost you career progress and income over your lifetime. So take some time to read your copy before submitting or sending anything – whether it’s an email, social profile, blog post or report.