Juice the Whole Orange: Best Practices for Business Writing Courses
Business writing courses can be positively career-changing. Ideally, learners make changes—during and after the workshop—that help them land the promotion, achieve the targeted change in their job’s focus, or overcome the limitation that has held them back for years.
We’ve seen it happen.
A mid-career manager in a tech company had been told that he wouldn’t be promoted without improving his writing skills. Deeply frustrated, he stomped into a BetterCom business writing workshop with low expectations and a snarl. Ninety minutes later, he volunteered, “Not only will I be able to write better using these skills, but my document quality will be better.” The next time we saw him, he’d requested a workshop for his new team, the one he now led because of his promotion.
A manager in a financial services firm heard about the new online communications tool the firm was launching and longed to be one of its content managers. Within a year of her workshop, she was.
Numerous learners have said goodbye to their feeling of deep dread whenever they have to write something at work.
Three best practices help you enable these outcomes from your side
Be sure your business writing program is integrated into your performance management system
Improving written communications is a reasonable expectation of virtually everyone on the team. Improvement is measurable. Use that measure in managing employees’ performance.
After your business writing workshops, follow up with the learners through their managers. Ask and observe where their writing has improved, and set that improvement as their new benchmark, just as you would with their sales performance measures. A great provider will offer coaching, sustainers and blended, ongoing support, not a “one-day wonder” of a course.
Measure and track improvements
The BetterCom Document Analysis and Rating Tool—the DART—poses ten objective, yes-or-no questions about a document. The number of “yes” answers determines the writer’s score. This tool gives managers a clear, quick instrument to assess and track improvements. It’s the Fitbit™ of business writing.
Provide post-training resources
A great business writing consulting company offers a range of resources to sustain learner’s skill improvements. The most important is sustainers, short review courses that reinforce key skills from the original workshop. Look for others, such as blog posts, examples of documents that can serve as models or templates, self-administered tests, whitepapers and checklists to support learners’ improvements. Take advantage of these resources and be sure your learners can use them easily and often.
One learner from a financial advisory firm still sends examples to his BetterCom facilitator of his much-improved PowerPoint decks, following a workshop he completed in 2009. He’s developed his own personal best practice to hold himself accountable to a higher writing standard. You could say he’s integrated his workshop into his own performance management system. And he’s been succeeding in persuading colleagues and clients to adopt his ideas ever since that 2009 class.