Success Story

Local Government

The Opportunity

Business communication is critical for smooth operations at any organization. In a modern workplace, employees need to communicate with each other through daily emails, written reports, and presentations.

When communication is verbal and in-person, it is augmented by pace, tone, non-verbal gestures, and the existing relationship between the speakers. In written communication, however, none of that exists. Everything depends on the words selected, the grammar and punctuation used, and the way the content is organized with headings and titles.

Ideally, everyone uses the same rules, understands how to best organize thoughts into meaningful messages, and keeps their writing succinct and relevant. Realistically, that is not what happens in the workplace.

In fact, poor writing skills cause work delays, decreased productivity, and confusion. A recent report indicates that blue-chip employers are now spending $3.1 billion annually on remedial writing training due to poor writing skills of current employees, from the front line to upper management.

The Zelos team was asked to develop training for employees interested in improving their abilities and confidence is business writing.

The Zelos Approach

The task was to normalize the need for a remedial writing course by making it non-embarrassing, practical, useful, and effective. We broke the content into two days: Day 1 – Basic Grammar and Punctuation and Day 2 – Business Writing: Intermediate.

Day 1 focused on basic grammar and punctuation. Rather than teach just the rules, the focus was on “Danger Zones” – places where common errors happen. Our facilitator discussed each of the eight parts of speech and gave many exercises for self-recognition of problems or reinforcement of the material. By the end of the day, each participant had a workbook and a chart highlighting their personal “Danger Zones,” a reference tool for later use.

Day 2 focused on writing skills: Pre-write, compose, rework and polish. Using examples relevant to the client, participants began by selecting a graphic organizer to corral their thoughts, then wrote topic and supporting sentences, edited their work, then each other’s work, and ended up with a final document that addressed a business issue. The afternoon applied similar strategies to writing email, following rules of email etiquette that support professional, clear, and effective communication.

Results

Class participants left training confident in using practical strategies for writing better business communications. Below are a handful of quotes from their post-workshop evaluations:

When asked about the overall experience: “Excellent.”

When asked what they’d do differently at work after this workshop: “Be extremely careful but professional with work emails.”

When asked for other comments: “Great job!”

When asked if their instructor was knowledgeable and well prepared: all participants strongly agreed.