I often talk about the English language and how constantly amazed I am at how lazy people can be when using it. I love English. It is an incredibly rich and wonderfully expressive language where you can describe things in many different ways. Whole industries are devoted to promoting the written form, from publishing to media. Yet, it seems, when we are in the workplace, we seem to not give it due consideration. It seems to be a constant bugbear of organisations that emails aren’t written correctly, standards aren’t maintained, reports aren’t written well, documents need proofing, and re-proofing.
And this is something which should not be a concern if we’re honest. We should just be frank and honest about poor English in the workplace. But we’re not. We allow it to happen and we allow it to continue to happen. What is the consequence of letting this continue? Well some quite serious consequences when you look at it.
– A poorly written RFP will result in being rejected further for that piece of work, and most likely no invitation for future responses
– Poorly written reports will leave management unsure of what is being said, with what evidence and with what goal or purpose
– Poorly written emails often result in wasted time going back and forth asking for information which should have been clear the first time
– Poorly written guidance documents cause confusion and irritation amongst staff that they then have to spend additional time and effort to find the right information
The common factor in all this is either lost business, or wasted time and efforts on further dialogue. Now I love a good old chinwag, and I love to talk, but when I communicate important information to my colleagues, I want it to be clear and easily understood the first time. I don’t want to waste their time, nor mine.
So why don’t businesses take this seriously? Some do, but not enough do. You can’t complain about the quality of English language your people use, if you don’t invest in them so they know how to do better. This doesn’t need to be formal training. It should be daily coaching and feedback with the sole purpose of being efficient with our communications. And if you’re asking about why this needs to be done, let me ask you this. If the automotive industry in the 90s decided continuous improvement wasn’t needed, what would be the effect on the car manufacturing industry across the globe today? Still think it’s not serious?