The focus was on a team primarily made up of underwriters, analysts and product management specialists. The team members saw themselves as “numbers” rather than “words” people. As a result, the department head was concerned that they lacked clarity when communicating internally. Moreover, their low level of confidence often drove them to seek her approval for documents they should have been able to edit independently. Much of what they wrote was very technical, and yet it was directed at people who were usually much less technically-minded, often sales people. The department head felt that an appreciation of their audience would improve things. While most of their communication was via email, they also wrote summary pages to introduce reports.
Through consultation, it emerged that an underlying issue was the team’s need to influence others, especially in situations where they had no authority to enforce their viewpoint. Domestic & General’s objectives were:
- to give the delegates the tools to influence internal clients through e-mail and other written documents;
- to enable them to plan to communicate persuasively and coherently;
- to use effective, plain English;
- to empower them to get the message across succinctly.
Karen Glossop designed and delivered a one-day course which comprised: exploring when it might be useful to use writing, rather than a meeting or phone-call, to influence others; developing an efficient writing process (planning, drafting, editing); structuring content in way which seems logical to the reader; and adopting a confident, jargon-free style. The delegates wrote both an e-mail and summary page for a report, and then edited each other’s documents. The whole group evaluated the results for clarity, succinctness and persuasiveness.
After a successful session, there was a further workshop for a second group of delegates. The training was expanded to include sessions on face-to-face influencing, also led by Karen Glossop.