WRITING TO WIN: MANAGING EXPECTATIONS IN BUSINESS WRITING
It would be a wonderful thing to know exactly what people expect of you over and above your duties and responsibilities on the job. You’d know exactly what to do to meet these additional expectations in your day-to-day performance. Being that the probabilities are high that most of the population cannot read minds, you must devise other ways to manage the expectations of your audience, namely, your colleagues, managers, or key stakeholders.
This is the third installment discussing key considerations for effective business communication. We’ll call this one, managing the expectations of audience. Or, as it is stated: Consider the Audience.
WHO IS MY AUDIENCE?
You already know your audience will either be your colleagues, managers, or key stakeholders. Now, you must learn to write TO their beliefs, needs, and expectations in a way that will ‘win the day’. That is, the means by which you can accomplish the goals laid out in your report, proposal, or executive summary.
Your Goal Should Be a Simple One, SUCCESS:
- The acceptance of your proposed solution to a problem
- The acceptance of your proposed improvement to a process
- The acceptance of the progress you have made in a key on-going project.
HOW CAN I KNOW THEIR EXPECTATIONS?
- Be aware of the project’s or division’s success objectives. These are specific things that must be achieved to demonstrate success in your department.
- Be diligent on the job. Keep your ears open, stay informed, and engaged in the workplace.
HERE’S HOW MANAGING EXPECTATIONS WORKS
If you want to convince your manager to give you a shorter work week for the same pay, you’ll need to understand why he/she wouldn’t want to give you a shorter work week even though you’ll be working the same hours. In other words, you must figure out what she believes on the subject of shorter work weeks. This is where you begin to make assumptions or guesses about her feelings on the subject of shorter work weeks. When you begin to make these assumptions or educated guesses, you begin to write to the needs of your audience.
You are a pharmaceuticals warehouse supervisor. Keeping track of inventory is an obvious priority. You know that inventory levels have been inaccurate in the last two accounting periods. You want to propose a solution to the problem, but before you present a ‘proposed plan’, you must try and figure out the expectations of your manager with regard to this problem. In short, you present your plan in such a way as to address what YOU THINK his beliefs and expectations may be given the current shrinkage problem. When you begin to make a mental list, it may look something look this if you were to write it down.
The Director of Corporate Logistics distributes a monthly newsletter that highlights shrinkage and how it decreases company profits. You know your manager keeps a close eye on this issue and measures warehouse shrinkage monthly, then reports this to corporate logistics. You also know that your manager constantly talks about adding more technology and wants to be noticed by the Director of Logistics. You also know that your facility manager would like to avoid hiring more security personnel.
This will be the first paragraph in your proposal
Based on last month’s warehouse inventory, there has been an eight percent increase in shrinkage. Our monthly sales figures do not support this high level of ‘missing’ merchandise. Nor can we afford to hire more security guards. Therefore, I would like to recommend a technological upgrade in our present security system. It will help us accomplish our goals without increasing payroll.
When you have a strong idea of what may be going on in the mind of your audience, you will have a strong idea of how to sell your idea. This is the same as building a strong persuasive document. A persuasive document is an argument. And building a good argument starts with creating the foundation upon which it rests. This foundation is the need to know your audience which brings us back to the three key considerations in effective written business communication.
REMEMBER: To Write Effectively
- Consider the Length
- Consider the Data
- Consider the Audience
For an expanded discussion on effective business writing and workplace etiquette, see my book:
Royce Murcherson, Ph.D., The Guide to Persuasive Business Writing: A New Model that Gets Results. Iowa: Kendall-Hall, 2013
Clip Art, provided by Microsoft Office Professional Academic, 2010
If you want to develop or enhance your business communication skills, consider enrolling in the Business Office Systems & Support (BOSS) program at Richland College.
Richland College is located in northeast Dallas at 12800 Abrams Road. For more information, please contact Angela Nino at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 972-238-6215.
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