Are we all born to write or do grammar, sentence structure and even creativity come more easily to some than to others? Or is it some combination of innate skill, excellent instruction and other factors?
One fact is clear: About three-fourths of students in 8th and 12th grades come up short in writing proficiency, according to the 2016 National Assessment of Educational Programs. And a recent article from Dana Goldstein in The New York Times questions why kids can't write.
Theories range from getting back to basics of grammar to promoting reading so that writers learn by example. Teachers say that efforts to educate students in core writing skills or looser approaches such as freewriting (letting the words and thoughts flow for a time without concerns about or corrections of grammar and spelling) have failed to produce results. One problem might be a lack of teacher training on how to teach children to write, or simply a lack of resources.
Children become adults, of course, and soon they're applying for college or for jobs. And the three-fourths who lacked basic skills in school now write letters, materials and email messages on behalf of your organization.
So, what can you do to improve the skills of employees who work for you?
First, assess the business writing skills of new employees. If writing is essential to the job, you can assess skills formally with a writing test. Your HR department or hiring manager can ask for writing samples. Just remember, published samples often have been touched up by editors and might not show true skill as well as an assessment should.
Next, help writers improve their skills. You can start with internal checks on all vital communications and then choose any number of methods to improve the writing of teams or individuals. We offer services ranging from tip cards on topics such as grammar, punctuation or technical writing to personal coaching. We can conduct on-site workshops, sign employees up for online courses or webinars, or conduct train-the-trainer sessions so you maintain a few in-house pros on business writing.
Once employees receive some good training in business writing, be sure to give them the time and support they need to produce quality writing and support them in further improving their skills.
And looking at the long-term picture: All parents can encourage their children to become better writers through promoting reading at home and guiding their children through positive self-improvement rather than correcting with a red pen or doing the work for the child!
If you want to improve your writing skills or those of your managers and employees, ask us how at Business Writing That Counts! . Just give us a call: 425-485-3221.