Posted March 24, 2020
Most employers consider writing ability a “soft skill,” a type of talent or ability separate from role-specific skillsets and one that is often hard to quantify. Like critical thinking, persuasiveness, listening, and other skills, writing and communication are pivotal to success in the workplace but can be hard to define or measure.
Nevertheless, employers place enormous value on soft skills: over nine of out ten (93%) employers describe soft skills as either “essential” or “very important” in prospective hires. But given how difficult it is to define or quantify writing ability, how do you know when it’s time to help the team bolster their writing skills?
Here are the major signs that it’s time to get some professional training in writing.
- If the skill is new, being used in new situations, being used by new people (new hire, promotion, or person assigned new writing-heavy duties), or being used in new ways. So, for example, you might automatically provide training to new hires or people newly promoted into roles where they will need to produce more written documents. Or you might invest in some training when it time to re-think outdated approaches; for instance, if you want to enliven your presentations, training in “data-driven storytelling” will pay off.
- If team members possess basic but not advanced writing skills. If your workers take too long to produce a document, or complain that the work is too hard (so they procrastinate or otherwise avoid the task), it might be time for some training.
- If your staff are asking for help. Get some training, and your team can get the support they need to write more, faster, with better quality.
- If customers or peers are complaining about the quality of the documents, definitely get some training!
- If your organization is not meeting its goals with written documents, it may mean the writing is not as effective or impactful as it could be. Get some training.
- If there are communication gaps emerging in the company related to emails, memos, or other internal correspondence, get some training.
- If the writer’s performance is not meeting expectations, demands, or requirements; or, you want to raise performance standards to stand out competitively, get some training.
- If you want to provide professional development opportunities as a means of improving employee retention (an employee engagement tactic the American Management Association recommends), writing skills development is an excellent option because it’s an incredibly portable skill that will work in all kinds of roles and situations throughout an organization.
- If you have no idea if you need writing skills development or not. In this case, a professional trainer can help your organization to identify and set a benchmark against which your team can improve over time and understand how they perform relative to your competitors.
- If your people aren’t open to editing or constructive criticism. Thin skin is the province of the insecure and under-skilled. If your people aren’t taking to edits well, considering bringing in a professional trainer to both boost their skills and help them understand why some kinds of edits are needed.
- If there are frequent errors in your written materials, you definitely need some training.
- If your competitors are producing better writing than you, they’re doing better business. Writing ability, “soft skill” though it may be, can directly impact the bottom-line. If your competitors are outperforming your team, get some training!
About Hurley Write, Inc.
Hurley Write, Inc., a certified women-owned small business (WBENC and WOSB), Historically Underutilized (HUB), and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE), has been designing and teaching customized onsite and online technical, business, and scientific writing courses for over 30 years. We also develop and teach specialty courses, such as how to write proposals and standard operating procedures (SOPs) and deviation and investigation reports, and how to prepare and give great presentations. Links: Internal, Wonderlic, American Management Association.