Good communication strengthens retention
Writing, in any business environment, is a necessity for all communications — both internal and external. The written word is used for memos, marketing, legal documents, policies and every signed document.
Many companies understand that good writing is essential to communicating with their employees as well as consumers, and that allowing room for error could have adverse consequences.
Many executives, entrepreneurs and company founders write books that highlight their successes, journeys and company stories, and they, too, understand that their books must be written well for them to be taken seriously and for their book sales to remain high.
Unfortunately, not all companies recognize the importance of the written word, and it shows in their communications. When communications lack clarity and/or empathy, employees may become disheartened or frustrated, and consumers often lose patience and look elsewhere to fill their needs.
Lack of quality communication, especially internally, affects productivity, employee experience and engagement, teamwork, manager and employee relationships, and so on. Employee retention is an increasing challenge for many organizations, and lack of communication is typically at the root of the problem.
When communicating verbally, it has often been said that “what you say is just as important as how you say it.” But communication still begins with what you say.
Why is all of this important? Let us begin with the traits of poor writing.
What are the traits of poor writing?
Poor writing rears its ugly head on many levels, but we will focus on three.
One, and perhaps the most egregious, trait is writing with weak to downright atrocious execution. If your communications are full of jargon, are difficult to understand, sound threatening or demanding, are missing information, lack clarity about the objective, and are not written and edited appropriately for the mediums you use, your writing is poor.
In addition, larger companies require certain, if not all, documents to pass through many hands for editing and approval. By the time the communications are ready to be shared publicly, no one understands the overall message because it has been diced, sliced, chopped and burnt to such a degree that it is incomprehensible.
Keep it simple. Make it clear. Add empathy. Stick to the objective.
A second trait of poor writing is evidence that quantity and speed were more important than quality during the writing process: misinformation, lack of evidence and trustworthy sources, lack of focus, etc., are the result.
Living as we do in an age of immediate information through various and sometimes nefarious means, the quality of the communications is typically pushed to the side. To many, it is more important to get the information out and fix it later. Unfortunately, at that point, the damage has been done and the cleanup is far more intensive.
And because many people lack patience, when they do have to wait for clear communications, this adds more pressure to the company.
It is true there are times when you cannot allow certain communications to sit for a week before sharing them, such as when you are facing a crisis, but a good writer will catch the phrases and tone that need adjusting before the communications are released.
If your goal is to release memo after memo, article after article, quicker than you can finish your first cup of coffee, that brings us to the third trait of poor writing: deficient grammar, spelling and punctuation.
I will not pick on email or text messaging since these are designed for quicker means of communication and the auto-fill feature always makes hasty messages look, well, deficient.
But when you combine the first two traits of bad writing — specifically many hands reviewing and editing the work on top of hastily sharing — errors in grammar, spelling and punctuation are inevitable and will leave a poor taste in the readers’ mouths.
Poor writing or writing that was just poorly executed usually means either the writer was lazy or the editor was missing in action. You see this a lot in online articles, but it also shows, sadly, in business communications as well.
Are proper grammar, spelling and punctuation that important in communications? Yes. And if you have to ask that question, please hire a writer.
Why good writing is important to business
Quality writing is important in all communications for an abundance of reasons. Again, we will focus on three of them.
First, the company’s reputation, and therefore trust, is at stake.
In this world of mistrust and fraudulent information and emails, bad writing and poor communication immediately send warning signals. For example, poor grammar, spelling and punctuation are often an instant sign that the communication is a scam and we should immediately delete the message and block the sender.
On the other hand, a business that releases polished communications, both internally and externally, builds trust with its employees and consumers. Companies work hard to build up a positive reputation and, believe it or not, their writing can affect their character. Employees need to feel comfortable working for them and consumers need confidence in buying from them.
Writing also translates into intelligence, so the quality of the writing will reflect the company’s — and its executives’ — level of intelligence.
Quality writing translates to quality communication, and that is what people need.
Second, good writing provides clarity and understanding.
Making sure your communications are clear and easily understood will further your efforts to build trust. When your communications reveal that you understand what your employees and consumers need, that you answer their questions or at least show you want to keep them informed, you simultaneously demonstrate your empathy for them.
Good writing is clear on objectives and expectations. Your tone is revealed in your message, and a positive or understanding tone affects emotions and drives the reader toward action. Good writing allays fears and exudes impactful, meaningful direction. And when you display respect and support, particularly for your employees, it helps you earn the respect and support you seek from them.
When you start with quality writing, this helps your verbal communication. And when all your executives and leaders understand the communications, this helps them relay the correct information to their employees, and ultimately builds a stronger company.
And third, this trust developed through quality writing fortifies retention.
Much has changed in the work environment, including the desire for a more fulfilled work and life balance. What frustrates many employees, which causes them to become job seekers, is a lack of communication and/or a lack trust and clarity in the communications they do receive.
People need to know they are being heard and respected. The way leaders communicate ultimately affects that kind of understanding.
When leaders are correctly trained on the art of communication, and they understand their organization and its objectives, mission and vision, they can help their employees feel fulfilled.
That is why communication is of the utmost importance in business. It starts with the writing, which seals in the understanding to avoid misinterpretation. Your expectations are aligned with your goals and objectives, and this is understood by everyone from the top to the bottom.
Build trust in your organization, with your employees and with your consumers by making sure your communications are simple, clear and understandable.
Making sure your written communication and other content is accurate, empathetic and reliable will go a long way in establishing your reputation.
To retain and attract quality employees, what you say and the way you communicate will affect expectations and loyalty.
Review your communications. How are they being received? How is your retention within your organization? Do your employees trust your company and your leadership?
It takes time to build trust, but only seconds to lose it.