Written Communication Will Make You More Effective!

Written communication is powerful management tool. Writing skills are most effective when used in conjunction with effective interpersonal communication . It took me a while to learn, but the efficiency of documentation continues to make me effective and efficient. I always thought I had good interpersonal skills . Like many managers, I thought all I had to do was hold meetings and verbally give directives. I spent years of frustration as I would clearly convey the things I wanted done and why yet they would not be completed as instructed.

The simple act of writing things down for people to reference eliminates interpretation problems, miscommunication problems, and accountability issues. Not only will it make you more efficient and effective, but you will be frustrated less often. As much as we would like to think that we should simply be able to verbally communicate to an individual and it should be done, that's not quite how it works.

Why should we write it down?

Clarity:

Verbal instructions, requests, and communication are open to interpretation. I once had a boss that would yell at the top of his lungs, "Do what I mean and not what I say!" I'm here to tell you he was dead serious. Needless to say he was a bit frustrating to work for. Simply writing down exactly what you need done affirms your verbal interpersonal communication and leaves a reference from the verbal instructions. Everyone is busy, and it is easy to forget something. A well placed email, text, or document can serve as both a reminder and refresher of exactly what was communicated.

Efficiency:

Nothing frustrates me more than repeating myself simply because it takes time. I prefer to do things once. Effective interpersonal written communication eliminates many phone calls, visits, and emails needed to clear up questions regarding verbal conversations. If you think about every thing that needs to be fixed, revised, and reordered due to miscommunications in our business every day, it adds up to wasted time, resources, and profitability. Simply taking the time to write things down can equate to serious efficiency gains.

Accountability:

You can be the most effective verbal communicator in the world, but you cannot control the individual receiving your message. Interpretation, memory retention, and perceptions are contolled by the individual we are engaged with. It is frustrating when an individual doesn't receive our whole message or receives a modified version as they interpret. Simply documenting the conversation, task, or procedure leaves a trail of accountability. Witten details are not subject to change. If documented accurately, individuals will feel accountable.

When should we write it down?

Training:

Look for inefficiencies, errors, and miscommunications that affect your time and bottom line. As you see repeat offenders, document operating procedures and train your employees. Spend the time to document specific training instructions to eliminate the frustrating inefficiencies you consistently battle.

Implementing:

I have seen fantastic ideas implemented and fail as quickly as they were rolled out. Policies, procedures, and directives are rolled out every day only to be forgotten by the end of the month. Written communication is critical to the implementation process. Detailing the specifics, procedures, expectations, and measurement of the directive greatly increases the success of the implementation.

Employee Feedback:

Managers use their interpersonal skills to give employee feedback everyday. Our management skills list relies on communication. Documenting important employee issues consistently creates a level of accountability. Employees associate the time for a manager to document an issue or success as important. If you consistently document successes and issues you would like corrected, your employees will understand that when you meet with them and have written something down it is important to you. They will appreciate being acknowledged when they do something good, and be accountable for issues you would like resolved.

Proposals:

Many great ideas are never brought to fruition in business. Great ideas are discussed in meetings. Heated debates take place every day. It is extremely hard to convey a complex plan verbally. Although you understand the concept and details, those you are communicating with may not see the whole picture. Written communication is essential when proposing an idea. Everyone must understand the concept, details, benefits, and statistics to create a successful implementation. If the time is taken to completely document a proposal, it shows peers and upper management how important it is to you and gives them the information to see your vision. If you add a great written proposal to your selling skills , you will win support for your proposal.

Interpersonal written communication is one of the critical functions of management . When utilized in conjunction with good interpersonal skills, it creates effective managers. Everything does not need to be documented. If you tackle 20% of the issues that are costing you 80% of time, profits, and frustration, you will be quite pleased with the results. It is more work to begin with, but I assure you it will be worth your time!


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