Written communication can make or break your career – Part 3

High-quality writing is a requirement for being a high quality professional. Outstanding writing can help make you an outstanding professional. You gain a competitive advantage in your career by improving your writing skills. Improve this skill and your work will be noticed and your e orts rewarded. Here are two scenarios to illustrate the point:

SCENARIO #1:

Your assignment is to document the current process for handling customer service inquiries for your organization and to recommend improvements in a written report. To gather the information you need for this project, you speak with the manager of the customer service department, interview the five most experienced employees of that department. In addition, you review over one hundred complaints that the department received about poor customer service responses and study a white paper written by your industry trade association entitled Best Practices in Customer Service.

After you’ve collected the data, underlined dozens of key facts and statistics and analyzed the research, you are ready to write the report. Now imagine this—you’ve broken your arm and are not able to compile the report yourself. Your manager arranges for you to collaborate with a colleague. Would you rather collaborate with your colleague, Bill, who majored in English or your colleague, Kimberly, who was a math major? Even though the underlying work, including your data and research, is the same, which team—you and the English major or you and the math major—will likely produce a higher quality, written report?

SCENARIO #2:

You and your co-worker are given similar assignments—analyze and then write a report about the products offered by your company’s top competitors in the marketplace. You research the available products, read online customer reviews, study media reports, and analyze all other publically- available information you can nd. You spend over 40 hours on research and analysis. By your estimate, your co-worker has spent about half that amount of time. While you were skipping lunch and eating dinner at your desk, he was taking long lunches and leaving the office at 5 p.m. every day. The deadline arrives and you each submit your written reports. Your report is ten pages long and includes twelve graphs. Unfortunately, it also includes two typos and a few grammatical errors.

The deadline arrives and you each submit your written reports. Your report is ten pages long and includes twelve graphs. Unfortunately, it also includes two typos and a few grammatical errors. Your colleague writes a ve-page report with three key graphs, an executive summary, and no typos or grammatical errors. Which report will be more favorably judged? What assumptions will people make about the quality of the research that went into writing each report? What will people assume (rightly or wrongly) about the underlying skills of the person who wrote each report?

During the course of a single year, you could be called upon to write many reports, dozens of presentations, and thousands of emails, letters, and other correspondence. It’s not hard to see that if your written communication regularly contains grammatical errors and punctuation mistakes, is excessively wordy, or fails to effectively communicate the main idea, your performance appraisals will be negatively impacted.

Your written communication will leave a lasting impression. Emails are read, then re-read, and forwarded. Mistakes in grammar, punc- tuation, and spelling will leave a negative impression among your co-workers, bosses, and clients. In some ways, written communication is more hazardous than verbal communication because it leaves behind a trail of evidence and may cement a negative impression of you.

Written communication can make or break your career – Part 2

When you graduated, you may have felt a sense of relief that term papers and other written assignments were behind you. In fact, many graduates choose careers in accounting, engineering, or computer science because they didn’t like classes that required a lot of writing. If you are one of these people, I have some bad news. As a professional in any industry, writing is one of the most important skills. Writing is the primary form of workplace communication. So, if you think you are finished with writing because you graduated from college, think again. e good news is that like the other skills in this book, written communication can be practiced and improved.

Here’s more good news. Generally, the average quality of written communication in the workplace is just that—average. With some consistent practice and mastery of a few simple grammar and punctuation rules, the quality of your writing will improve and you’ll stand out among your peers.

Read Part 3 of this post –>

Written communication can make or break your career – Part 1

“It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let then think you were born that way.” – Ernest Hemingway

Written communication can make or break your career. The importance of your ability to write clearly, concisely, and correctly cannot be emphasized enough. For better or worse, the quality of your written communication will directly reflect on your underlying talent and ability. e better you write, the more competent people will think you are. Consider this very common scenario: Your supervisor asks you to draft a presentation for an important meeting. It may be to introduce a new product, to analyze your organization’s competitors in a new market, or to research a new government policy. This is the first major assignment for which you’ve been given primary responsibility. Naturally, you are eager to do well and impress your supervisor and colleagues.

You begin with online research. You study data from a re- cent survey and analyze public documents. You read dozens of relevant news stories. After a full week of collecting and analyzing facts and figures, you are ready to document your research and conclusions in a presentation to your supervisor and colleagues. While you may have done outstanding research and analyzed vast quantities of data, unless you can produce an equally high quality, written summary of your conclusions, your hard work won’t matter. You will be judged based only on the end product, the presentation. And if that presentation is poorly written, all of your research and analysis will fall under the same negative shadow. You cannot escape it. Poor quality written communication in the workplace is a career black hole —a nearly inescapable trap—that can break your career.

Read Part 2 of this post. –>

NAME TAGS DON’T DESERVE MUCH THOUGHT, RIGHT? WRONG!

At a networking event, you will meet people for the first time and you want to give them the maximum opportunity to remember your name. Attach your nametag very high on your right lapel. Do this because you are usually extending your right hand to shake, so that side of your body will also be slightly extended forward. This makes it easier for the person to read your nametag without having to look across your body.

The Key for Your Success

Professional success in every industry is a team effort. Who is on your team?

Most successful people will say that networking has played an important role in their careers. I would challenge anyone who claims that his or her success was completely self-determined. No matter what your career, a professional network can be extremely helpful.

Actors, athletes, artists, and musicians, in addition to business people, civil servants, politicians, medical professionals, lawyers, teachers, doctors, and not-for-pro t professionals all bene t from the relationships nurtured by a robust professional network.

Professional success in every industry is a team e ort. Your team or your professional network may include people within your own organization, your industry, or related industries. It may also include your business partners, former colleagues, col- lege classmates, and people who belong to the same professional associations.

Reading List: Practice Perfect: 42 Rules for Getting Better at Getting Better

Practice Perfect: 42 Rules for Getting Better at Getting Better

by Doug Lemov, Erica Woolway, Katie Yezzi

Why read this book? If you question the value of practice in your career, this is a MUST read. Many of the rules will show you how to set up practice routines for skills where the solution is not obvious. Rules most applicable to accelerating your career experience include: #1 Encode Success, #4 Unlock Creativity . . . With Repetition, #7 Differentiate Drill From Scimmage, #9 Analyze the Game, and #10 Isolate the Skill.

Building Blocks of Leadership

The skills and concepts in my book, Career-ology, are the foundation of leadership. Think of a great leader and rate his or her abilities on a scale of one to ten against the following skills:

  • Professional networking
  • Business writing
  • Public speaking and presenting
  • Sales and negotiations
  • Organizational awareness
  • Creating a personal brand
  • Developing an executive presence

Chances are the leader you selected rated highly in most if not all of these skills.

You can demonstrate the qualities of a leader without having direct reports. You don’t need a title or an organizational chart either. A true leader is a person whom others will follow regardless of the authority of a title or the incentive of a paycheck. Acquiring and practicing these skills and concepts are an excellent place to begin your journey to becoming an outstanding leader.

LinkedIn Official Blog

There is no better source of information about the most important professional networking platform in the world than the LinkedIn Official Blog. If you want to learn more about LinkedIn, go right to the source. There are hundreds of blog posts arranged by topic and searchable by keyword.

Reading List: How to Really Used LinkedIn by Jan Vermeiren

 

Why read the book? This book is written for a broad audience—from the LinkedIn novice to the advanced user—and includes instruction on using the tool and detailed strategies for creating your profile, building your own professional network, and engaging with groups. You can download a full copy of the book for free and access tools, videos, webinars, and self-assessment tools.

Reading List – The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business

The Power of Habits: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business

by Charles Duhigg

Why you should read this book? You will dive deep into the science of habits and learn how to harness the power of habits to accelerate your career experience. Duhigg, an award winning business journalist, also explores institutional habits and the idea of keystone habits that can be used to turn around organizations like Alcoa, the Fortune 500 manufacturing company, or products like P&G’s Febreze air freshener.