How a company uses writing reveals a lot about its workplace culture. Here are some red flags to look out for. If your company is guilty of all 10 sins, it’s a very careless company indeed.
- Spelling and grammar mistakes on expensive display material. One company I know spent a fortune on large posters for its main entrance. The spelling mistakes were in 15 centimetre high font. It communicated a lack of care and teamwork.
- Spelling and grammar mistakes on product packaging. This communicates that the company is unprofessional and nobody cares about standards. What else will be wrong with the product?
- Customer service sends standard replies that don’t answer customer questions. You want to know why there’s no disabled toilet. The company writes back to say the toilets are very clean. You’re either corresponding with an unsupervised robot or staff are so unhappy they don’t read emails.
- An old email sent to one person has become part of a week long multi-person conversation. If you’d known that email to Mr Bloggs would be read by over a hundred people, you would have phoned him instead. Why does Mr Bloggs do it? He’s either careless or doesn’t care.
- Bosses say administration staff send out too many emails. It may be that admin are email addicts. But more likely, the admin staff aren’t being given enough face-to-face time with managers and colleagues. In careless companies everyone depends on the admin staff but nobody knows what they do (or wants to speak to them.)
- Colleagues always email instead of talking in other ways. A complete reliance on emails means no other communication is taking place. Emails are convenient but they’re not a face-to-face conversation. Caring companies keep other communication channels open.
- Company social media and news pages haven’t been updated for a year. Neglecting to add new time stamped content makes a company look like the Marie Celeste. Either someone important lost interest in the company’s image or everyone has died.
- Company members use nothing but jargon and acronyms with new employees, visitors and customers. Jargon and acronyms are convenient shortcuts but exclude anyone who doesn’t know what they mean. The company culture isn’t set up to welcome new people.
- Public information material is many pages long and written in specialist language. Thoughtful companies send out public communications that are accessible to all readers. Publishing material that can’t be read by everyone suggests a lack of care or an unwillingness to communicate that verges on subterfuge. What are they hiding?
- Company managers loudly complain about writing for readers with educational disadvantages or literacy problems. They call it “dumbing down.” Empathy is not prized in this company. Run away. Run as fast as you can.
Pictures in this blog post are stock photos from http://www.pexels.com.