The one key skill all your team members need in 2020

The business environment is changing so fast that many businesses are grappling to keep up with the latest developments in cloud-based solutions and other innovations based on information technology. Sadly, even though most people now think being “tech literate” is a core skill, they don’t think English literacy is a core capability. However, good writing is the most important “key performance indicator” of all.

Who cares if you know how to click open an e-mail tab in a cloud-based “managing the customer relationship” program if you can’t communicate meaningfully, persuasively and purposefully?

Clear communication

Managers of many small enterprises and large organisations employ me to train their staff members in the basics of written English. Everyone – from customer-service representatives to managers and executives – benefits from learning how to write quality communications such as e-mails, proposals, sales follow-ups, reports and website content. You’d be surprised how many people don’t have a good grasp of written English.

So many business people tell me that after their staff members have attended my sessions, they’ve acquired more clients, their sales figures have skyrocketed and their clients have reported more satisfaction, all because the staff members had learned how to communicate better in writing.

Although writing is a core skill these days, writing clearly and eloquently is a rarity. Meanwhile, the “smart economy” is on an upward swing, and Australia’s national economy remains reliant on innovative thinking and ability to translate ideas into commercial reality and then sell them to the world. In the third decade of the 21st century, regardless of whether you’re an employee or self-employed – or anything in between – employers and clients will continue their quest for the priceless skill of being able to harness words to make an impact.

Getting an edge on your competition

Business people need to focus on getting the edge on their competitors. Upskill your staff members by providing them with writing lessons in person or online. Enable them to study English grammar and punctuation thoroughly, to learn how to structure sentences and paragraphs properly and to extend their vocabulary. They’ll reward you by writing e-mails that pop, reports that are influential and proposals that have the ‘Wow!’ factor. People notice excellent written English and respect the wordsmith who produces it.

Ability to write well is the one key skill that every business’s employees must have in 2020. By helping your staff members learn how to write well, you’ll be assisting them to achieve better outcomes and give your business the edge.

The way ahead

If you’re planning to get ahead in 2020, I advise you to critically examine your staff members’ competency as writers. Do a SWOT analysis with them – list their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats – however they work with words. Successful businesses have staff members who can build and manage healthy and productive relationships and deliver the required outcomes diligently and reliably. Being able to write well is integral.

The foundation of all these capabilities is skill in wielding all those wonderful words we have at our command and being able to write well and communicate confidently.

As a professional who collaborates with students, parents, managers, business owners and even CEOs to help them improve their written communication, I see the life-changing results of my work first hand. Many people tell me they hadn’t thought their written English was all that bad before they started working with me. After only one session, they’d come to realise how much they’d needed to improve. By working together, over a number of sessions either in person or online, we were able to dramatically improve their writing ability.

Deb Doyle, The Grammar Whisperer, author of “Grey Areas and Gremlins: A grammar and punctuation refresher”

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