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INSTRUCTORS' GUIDE

VIEWS: 9 PAGES: 29

  • pg 1
									-


              INSTRUCTOR’S GUIDE


                  Business Written
                  Communications
                         A Soft Skill Lesson


       This project was funded fully or in part by Carl D. Perkins CTE Act of 2006 grant
       08-159-001, awarded to Coastline Community College and administered by the
       California Community Colleges’ Chancellor's Office. It is the policy of Coastline
          Community College not to discriminate against any person on the basis of
            race, color, national origin, sex or disability in all of its educational and
                              employment programs and activities.




    Instructors Guide   Business Written Communications     Page 1 of 29
                               Table of Contents

Introduction………………………………………………………………………………….…………………03

How to Use the Soft Skills Module, Business Written Communications ………….…………………….03

Evaluation………………………………………………………………………………………………………03

Video Timing…………………………………………………………………..……………………………….04

Business Written Communications Presentation (Script) ….…………………………………….………05

Role Playing …………………..…..………………………………………………………………………….06

Business Written Communications Review and Quiz ………………………..…………………..............11

Business Written Communications Test………………….……………………………………….………...13

Business Written Communications Test Answers……………………………………………………........14

Questions for Group Discussion …………………………….…………………………………………..….15

Soft Skills Research Project – The Need for Softskills……………………………………………….……16

Title (first) page of PowerPoint - Figure #1 …………………………………………………………………24

Second page of PowerPoint - Figure #2 & 2-1…..………………………………………………………...24

Third page of PowerPoint - Figure #3 ………………………………………………………………...…….24
.
Status Report – First pass - Figure #4 ……………………………………….……………………..………25

Status Report – Final - Figure #5 ……………………………………………………………………………25

Commonly Misused Words………………………………………………………………………………...…26

Credits and Disclaimers………………..……………………………………………………………….….…29




                             ###END TABLE OF CONTENTS##




Instructors Guide   Business Written Communications   Page 2 of 29
                    How to Use the Soft Skills Module on
                     Business Written Communications

Introduction

This Instructor’s Guide is designed to be used with the video titled "Business Written
Communications." It was created by business people for the California Community College System
for BESAC (the Business/CIS Education Statewide Advisory Committee). The primary objective of
the this video is to teach students how Business Written Communications works in the business
environment. This Instructor’s Guide is to be used with the video of the same name which is
available on-line on the BESAC website, www.calbusinessed.org

How to Use the Soft Skills Module - Business Written Communications

There are several ways faculty who have seen the materials have recommended their use. Some of
these are:
      1. As an ice breaker in class, these video lessons give a good basis for a discussion. Several
           faculty have taken the concepts and applied them to the area in which they are teaching.
           For example, one CIS faculty member in talking about the problems caused by poor
           Business Written Communications at work.
      2. Another good ice breaker is to have the students take the 20 question quiz BEFORE
           seeing the video, then taking it again after the completed lesson.
      3. As a tag in class, they give a good basis for discussion. Faculty has suggested that on the
           occasions when they don’t have time (for example: before some semester/quarter
           milestone) to start a new unit, they introduce soft skills concepts.
      4. Some faculty have said they have no time to use these materials in class. However, they
           put the materials on the website and ask the students to write on topics pertaining to the
           module (see the evaluation section).
           They then conduct on-line discussions with the students. NOTE: The module is broken up
           into chapters (each length given in minutes and seconds) to make it easy for dissemination
           and tracking.

Evaluation
There are several ways that one can evaluate students on their work with the Business Written
Communications soft skills module. Writing a response to the video experience provides the faculty
member with not only the verification of content, but also a chance to work with the student on his/her
writing skills. Some of the topics that can be assigned for writing include:
       1. How do the rules of Business Written Communications help overcome misunderstandings?
       2. How does good Business Written Communications help your supervisor?
       3. How can you impress customers, vendors and peers with good Business Written
            Communications?
Test
Each Student guide will have the 20 True/False test questions (without the answers) This Instructors
guide will have the test, answers and location of answers in the script also attached.

Instructors Guide       Business Written Communications          Page 3 of 29
Assignment
Students, send the instructor an email with three key points that you have learned from the Business
Written Communications Video.

Video Timing

This video is broken down into the following chapters with viewing times of each. It is noted for your
convenience in assigning chapters for your individual lesson plan.

Business Written Communications = 16:52 Total Lesson
Intro = 00:38
Opening = 00:50
Chapter 1 = 02:57
Chapter 2 = 02:02
Chapter 3 = 02:56
Chapter 4 = 02:45
Review & Quiz = 02:35
Summary = 02:03




                                          ###END INTRO##




Instructors Guide       Business Written Communications           Page 4 of 29
        Business Written Communications Presentation
    NOTE: This is the actual script for the video, therefore is may not look grammatically correct,
                                 but will sound correct on the video.
INTRODUCTION

Hi my name is Kathleen Stelts, I will be your virtual mentor and this is a special soft skills video for the
California community colleges on Business Written Communications Level 1. Why don’t we meet in
the lecture hall and we can get started.

OPENING

Ineffective business writing is a major problem in the workplace today. Most business writing is poorly
written, muddled, plagued with jargon, and incomplete. A study by the College Board National
Commission on Writing stated that 33% of the nation's workers don't possess the basic writing skills
required for their positions. The study summarized, and I quote "Businesses are really crying out they
need to have people who write better" unquote.

Employees who do have good business writing skills are at the top of the promotion list. They’re
known as skillful communicators. In this video, we are going to go through a step by step procedure
to create a PowerPoint presentation, and then a status report.

CHAPTER #1

We’re to going to learn the five step process to create a well written PowerPoint presentation.
The First Step is Determine your writing objective and the audience. Ask yourself these questions: Is
your writing objective to sell something? Is it to update a status? Or is it a summary report? This will
help you to determine WHAT to write and what to IGNORE. You also need to know WHO your
audience is going to be. Some people will need more background information or better explanations
than others. If the customer is your audience, there are some things from a corporations' aspect that
you may not want to reveal. SO know your audience and keep your writing objective in mind.

Gather and Organize Your Information is our 2nd step. Collect the data that you want to write about. It
may take some time to get it all together, but you want to make sure that you present all of the
information needed. If there are facts that have not been verified either leave them out or inform your
audience that they are unsubstantiated.

After you have listed ALL the information in a bulleted format, start organizing it in a logical sequence.
Use your cut and paste function to organize your data. Put it in an easy to understand, and logical
format.

Step # 3 is Begin Writing. Now start to actually write. Use bullets when you can and write short
paragraphs when needed. Some people have the mistaken belief that business writing needs to be
long, formal sounding and use impressive words. This is incorrect, and when you do this, you’re going
to irritate your reader.



 Instructors Guide       Business Written Communications            Page 5 of 29
The longer it is, and the more confusing it usually is. Good writing is concise and to the point. The
fewer words you use, the more likely your message will be understood.

It’s a little known fact that Lincoln's Gettysburg Address contained fewer than 300 words, yet the
message was powerful and compelling. Don't use 20 words, when 10 words will get your message
across. Most poor business writing is because people become redundant in their message. They’ll
say the same thing poorly three times instead of saying it once correctly.

Make sure that you only use words that you understand or know how to use correctly. If you don’t,
you will confuse your reader. By the way, if you look in your written Study Guide you will find a list of
commonly misused words and information on how to use them properly.


CHAPTER #2

Step #4 is Proofread and edit . Now that you have the first pass of your writing completed, it’s time to
review and edit. Watch for redundancies or unnecessary words. Make sure your writing has a logical
flow. Always run your spell check and make sure you have proper grammar and punctuation. It’s
best to format your writing in a way that’s easy to read by breaking it into small paragraphs and/or
bullets.

The Fifth and final step is to verify Proper Distribution. No matter how skillful your business writing
may be, if you don't get it to the correct people, it’s wasted. Make sure that the people with a need to
know get your information. If you are not sure who should be on the distribution list, check with your
supervisor. They may know people involved in the project that you are unaware of.


CASE STUDY #201
Here’s a Case Study. Robert, a marketing vice president for a major pharmaceutical company had
been searching for a new product manager and had selected two candidates Ed and Ashley. Both
had great references and everyone who interviewed them felt they both could do the job. Robert
decided to have both candidates write a report on how to handle an on-going distribution problem that
he had talked about during the interviews. Robert gave them each one week to respond. Ed and
Ashley completed the task and emailed their “reports” within the time frame. Robert was amazed at
the difference between the two papers. Ed’s report was over 10 pages long, was filled with typos and
grammatical errors, was difficult to read and repeated the answer four times. In contrast, Ashley’s
response was two pages long, very logical and methodical, with a concise solution. It was an easy
choice after Robert saw Ashley’s business writing soft skills.


CHAPTER #3 (Role Playing)

Now, we’re going to visit a clothing manufacturer where the Sales Support Coordinator, Kevin, is
putting together a PowerPoint presentation for their new hoodie sweatshirt product.

Kathleen: Hey Kevin

Kevin: Hi Kathleen, thanks for helping me. I have a hard time with business writing.


Instructors Guide        Business Written Communications            Page 6 of 29
Kathleen: No problem, we’re going to use our simple five step process to help you create an effective
and professional presentation

Kevin: Great!

Kathleen: The first step is to determine your writing objective and the audience

Kevin: Well, the audience is the national sales force and I guess the objective is to tell them about
the new hoodie sweater coming out.

Kathleen: Good, the next step is to gather and organize the information you want to present in short
bullet format.

Kevin: OK, I have made a list and what I want to present. It will be the style, specification, colors,
time frame, and ordering and sales information.

Kathleen: Very good. Is there anything else that you should have on that list?

Kevin: Oh yeah, I almost forgot we need to tell them when they will be ready to ship.

Kathleen: OK! We need to make an extra effort to collect ALL of the pertinent information. Now let's
get it organized by putting it in some kind of an order. What should come first?

Kevin: Well, the sales people always want to know how much it costs and when it can ship.

Kathleen: I understand that, but shouldn't you tell them WHAT their selling FIRST?

Kevin: Oh Yeah, That makes sense. First I can tell them what it is, and then discuss the specification
and colors followed by the pricing and schedule. That's seems logical!

Kathleen: Exactly! You can get them interested with the details then present the pricing and
scheduling of events. Why don't you go ahead and create a first draft of your PowerPoint
presentation. Just use bullets and headers

Kevin: Ok, I think I can do that

(Title slide says "A Later that day..." with music splash from email creation)

Kathleen: Now let’s see how Kevin's Power Point presentation is doing... How's it going Kevin?

Kevin: Got it done Kathleen, I also did spell checking. I will put it up now


                                        ACME Clothing Inc.
                                Presentation On New Hoodie Product

Figure #1

Kathleen: OK, the title page looks good, now let's look at the first page

Instructors Guide        Business Written Communications            Page 7 of 29
Hoodie Specifications:
   Two pockets
   Softest cotton jersey
   Long sleeves banded cuffs.
   Individually wrapped

Figure #2

Kathleen: This slide looks good too.

Kevin: Here’s the next one


Colors:
    Black
    White
    Forest Green
    Indigo Blue
   
Figure #2-1

Kathleen: This slide looks good too, it’s informative, easy to read, good job Kevin.

Kevin: Thanks, here is the next one



Pricing: $39.99 MSRP $US
    Special 10% bonus commission for orders
    Samples will ship 1st week next
       month
    Contact Bill Johns, Product Manager
       888-555-0121

Figure #3

Kathleen: Great, this slide gives the pricing, commission, schedule of events and you put in a name
that can help answer any questions.

Kevin: Thanks! By following each step I didn't get too confused and it was easier than I thought!

Kathleen: That's right! Are you ready to try the status report now?

Kevin: Yeah, I think so!

Kathleen: Super. What kind of a report does your supervisor want?

Instructors Guide          Business Written Communications        Page 8 of 29
Kevin: She’s been out for a week so she needs to know what been happening. I am writing it now.

Kathleen: I see. OK, so let's talk about applying our writing 5 writing steps to create a report and see
if we can help you.

Kevin: OK

CHAPTER #4

When you write any type of a report, use these same steps we have reviewed

(Title Slide) Five Steps to Successful Business Writing 1. Determine Your Writing Objective And The
Audience 2. Gather And Organize Your Information 3. Write 4. Proofread & Edit 5. Distribution

Once again they are: Determine Your Writing Objective and the Audience, Gather and Organize Your
Information, Write, Proofread and Edit, and Distribution.

In reports however, we need to add these additional three rules.

Rule #1 - Add background information in order to explain any complex or unique situations. This will
help your reader understand the situation better.

Report Rule #2 Use Summaries. Business people want to get to the point when reading business
correspondence and the best way to do this is to summarize.

The 3rd and final Report Rule is, when possible, suggest solutions to defined problems. This will
show your boss that you are capable of problem solving and not just problem reporting. Management
is always looking for people with a reputation of being problem solvers.

KATHLEEN: Let's see what Kevin’s doing...

Kevin: I almost have all my notes together. There was so much going on, I wrote down a few things
every day so I wouldn’t forget.

KATHLEEN: Good Idea Kevin, it’s better to take notes because it’s easy to forget.

Kevin: Here is what I have so far...

STATUS REPORT From 3-15 to 3-19


The Cleveland shipment has been delayed. Inventory will be taken next weekend instead of next
month; volunteers will be needed to assist. Mary Smith, HR Coordinator, is leaving in 2 weeks. The
break room is closed due to plumbing repairs. Smoking is no longer permitted in front of the building,
The Dallas sales office is closing at the end of the year. The new CFO started this week.

Figure #4


Instructors Guide       Business Written Communications            Page 9 of 29
KATHLEEN: Ok, It was a good idea to put all the different things that happened at the organization
that week. Every supervisor needs to know who’s leaving and new people coming on, but don't you
think it’s a little hard to read?

Kevin: Yeah, I was just about to put it in bullet form, but I was interrupted by Bill and Jen who said
they would volunteer with me to do the inventory next week.

KATHLEEN: Very good. Now you have a solution to one of the stated problems. Do you know why
the Cleveland shipment was delayed?

Kevin: Oh Yeah, the Factory in China was hit by a fire.

KATHLEEN: That’s good background information to add

Kevin: I understand, let me finish up this report

(Title slide says "A little while later..." with music splash from email creation)


                                  STATUS REPORT From 3-15 to 3-19

   1. The Cleveland shipment has been delayed due to the fact that the factory in China had a fire.
   2. Inventory will be taken next weekend instead of next month; volunteers will be needed to
      assist. Note: Bill, Jen and I are available.
   3. The Dallas sales office is closing at the end of the year because of poor sales.
   4. The new CFO started this week.
   5. Mary Smith, HR Coordinator, is leaving in 2 weeks.
   6. The break room is closed due to plumbing repairs.
   7. Smoking is no longer permitted in front of the building.
   8. The weekly shipping reports are on your desk.
   9. Welcome back!

Kevin

Figure #5

KATHLEEN: This looks great!

Kevin: Thanks! I also tried to put what I thought was the most important things at the top of the
report, is that a good idea?

KATHLEEN: That’s an EXCELLENT idea! It’s easy to read, you gave good background information
and you have a solution to a problem. I think your boss will be very impressed. GOOD JOB!

Kevin: It took a little longer than I thought but I even impressed myself! I’ve never written any
business stuff before. It’s not that hard when you follow these rules!

KATHLEEN: That’s right. It’s just a simple step by step process


 Instructors Guide       Business Written Communications              Page 10 of 29
REVIEW AND QUIZ

Now it’s time to get paper and pen out. We’re going to see a review and have a quiz on the key
points of Business Written Communications. You will see a slide come up with a missing word or a
multiple choice question. You’ll have 8 seconds to write down the answer before it appears. Ready?
OK, good luck, here we go into the Review and Quiz on Business Written Communications.

Review and Quiz on Business Written Communications

33% don't possess the basic
writing skills required for their positions

STEP #1
Determine your writing Objective and the audience

Good business writing will:
  A) Help you get promoted
  B) Not really help you
  C) Is only needed if your are an editor

STEP #2
Gather and Organize Your Information
    Present only necessary information
    Put in an easy to understand and logical format

Step # 3
Write it
    Use bullets and short paragraphs
    Do not use formal sounding text
    Be concise and to the point

Step # 4
Proofread & edit
    Have a logical flow
    Always use spell check
    Use proper grammar and punctuation
    Create an easy-to-read format

The first step to good Business Writing is:
   A) Determine your objective audience
   B) Buy a book on grammar
   C) Just start writing

Step #5
Proper Distribution
    Make sure the proper people get the information
    Check with supervisor on distribution

 Instructors Guide        Business Written Communications      Page 11 of 29
The Three
Report Rules

Report Rule #1
Add background if needed

Step #4 is Proofread and       EDIT


Report Rule #2
Use Summaries

Report Rule #3
Suggest solutions to defined problems

True or False
Always use big words in order to impress your boss

Review and Quiz on
Business Written Communications


SUMMARY

For some of you that have never had a full time job in your industry, you may find that it’s very
different from school. Business is very competitive. Here’s one way to think about it. Imagine your
school only allows one “A” two “B’s” and the rest “C’s”. That’s how business operates. Not everyone
gets promoted, not everyone gets good salary increases. It’s reserved only for the top performers. To
be a top performer, you must produce quality work, within the given time frames while working well
with others AND you must be consistent. Learning business soft skills will help you achieve these
goals.

Good written business communication takes effort and is an essential soft skill to have in the work
place today. Poor business writing will give you a bad reputation and probably keep you from being
promoted. This video has explained and shown you the simple step by step process for effective
business writing. It’s important that you follow these steps in order to write clear, concise business
communications. Thank you for watching!



                                         ###END SCRIPT###




Instructors Guide       Business Written Communications           Page 12 of 29
               Business Written Communications Test

                                           True or False
                                        Circle your answer

  1) Almost 33% of workers don’t possess basic writing skills …….………………………..……T or F

  2) Employees get promoted faster if they talk about writing……….…………………………… T or F

  3) Some people need more explanations when writing ………………………………………….T or F

  4) The first step is to start writing……………………………………………………………………T or F

  5) The Gettysburg Address contained fewer than 300 words ……..…..………………….........T or F

  6) You do NOT to need to be redundant to be a good writer…………………………………….T or F

  7) Use complex words to impress your readers …..……………………………………………...T or F

  8) If you are a good writer, you never have to proofread…………………………………………T or F

  9) Memos are better if they are in one continuous paragraph ….……………………………… T or F

  10) Make sure the only the people that need to know gets your written communications……T or F

  11) Logical, methodical and concise written communications are easier to read…..…….......T or F

  12) It is not that important that you gather and organize data BEFORE you start writing........T or F

  13) Reports should have possible solutions to problems……………………………………….. T or F

  14) Always summarize in your writings ……………………………………………………………T or F

  15) All readers have basically the same backgrounds………………………………………….. T or F

  16) Status reports that are bulleted are easier to read………………………………………… T or F

  17) Good business writing may take longer than you expected……………………………… T or F

  18) Competition in college and business is basically the same……………………………… T or F

  19) You could NEVER get a bad reputation for poor business writing ………………………..T or F

  20) Only use pencil and paper when you write……………………….…………………………..T or F



Instructors Guide      Business Written Communications           Page 13 of 29
ANSWERS

   1) Almost 33% of workers don’t possess basic writing skills
TRUE
Reference – Opening

   2) Employees get promoted faster if they talk about writing
FALSE
Reference – Opening

   3) Some people need more explanations when writing
TRUE
Reference Chapter #1

   4) The first step is to start writing
FALSE
Reference Chapter #1

   5) The Gettysburg Address contained fewer than 300 words
TRUE
Reference Chapter #1

   6) You do NOT to need to be redundant to be a good writer
TRUE
Reference Chapter #1

   7) Use complex words to impress your readers
FALSE
Reference Chapter #1

   8) If you are a good writer, you never have to proofread
FALSE
Reference Chapter #2

  9) Memos are better if they are in one continuous paragraph
FALSE
Reference Chapter #2

   10) Make sure the only the people that need to know gets your written communications
TRUE
Reference Chapter #2

  11) Logical, methodical and concise written communications are easier to read
TRUE
 Reference Chapter #2

  12) It is not that important that you gather and organize data BEFOE you start writing
FALSE
Reference Chapter #1

 Instructors Guide       Business Written Communications         Page 14 of 29
  13) Reports should have possible solutions to problems
TRUE
Reference Chapter #4

   14) Always summarize in your writings
TRUE
Reference Chapter #4

  15) All readers have basically the same backgrounds
FALSE
Reference Chapter #4

  16) Status reports that are bulleted are easier to read
TRUE
Reference Chapter #4

  17) Good business writing may take longer than you expected
TRUE
Reference Chapter #4

  18) Competition in college and business is basically the same
FALSE
Reference Summary

   19) You could NEVER get a bad reputation for poor business writing
FALSE
Reference Summary

  20) Only use pencil and paper when you write
FALSE




Questions For Group Discussion
   Give examples of how good Business Written Communications will assist you in your career
   Give examples of how poor Business Written Communications can inhibit an organizations
      growth


                                          ###End Test###




Instructors Guide      Business Written Communications        Page 15 of 29
                           Soft Skills Research Project

Objective:

In the past, businesses have complained to BESAC that graduates do not have the “Soft Skills” that

they need. They have expressed their concerns that while the graduates (and returning students)

almost always seem to have a good education in their major, they do not have the soft skills needed

to completely support their positions. Specifically, they have communications problems. This puts

an additional burden on the business community to have better qualified staff members make up for

the shortcoming of the graduates.



Employers also report that even some staff who have been with them for a few years continue to

exhibit similar “soft skills shortcomings”. This problem appears to be especially critical in the

technical industries. It is important to have the ability to write reports, give simple presentations and

work in team productivity in business today.

This research project (performed by Hartley & Associates) asked the following questions:

Does the California business community have employees or candidates for employment who listen

and perform as directed?



   1) Do they demonstrate SOFT SKILLS problems?

   2) If so, which of the Soft Skills need to be addressed?

   3) What can BESAC do to assist the business community in this effort?




 Instructors Guide       Business Written Communications            Page 16 of 29
The Research Base:

In order to get an accurate sampling of the 870,000 businesses in California, the 670,000 public

administration organizations were eliminated in order to reach the 200,000 remaining commercial

businesses. Out of over 100 companies contacted, Hartley & Associates performed phone interviews

with 26 California businesses. They were queried about soft skills needs and were requested to send

letters documenting their opinions. In order to get a good industrial cross section, Hartley &

Associates interviewed the following different industries in the Southern California area:

•         Architectural                       •      Media Placement Company

•         Biometrics                          •      Mortgage

•         Corporate Education                 •      Museum

•         Entertainment Production            •      Real Estate

•         Finance & Collections               •      Recruiting (5)

•         Healthcare                          •      Rehabilitation

•         High Tech Consulting                •      Retail

•         Local Government                    •      Software Company (2)

•         Manufacturer (2)



A special effort was made to contact five different recruiting firms since they talk, interview, and

interface with more people on an annual basis than most others.

Identification of Specific Soft Skills

We asked our survey base to identify the specific “soft skills” to complete the research Hartley &

Associates investigated. The total list below was created:

•         Listening                                  •        Problem solving skills

•         Writing                                    •        Common sense

•         Reading                                    •        Policy and Procedures creation

    Instructors Guide        Business Written Communications            Page 17 of 29
•         Public speaking                           •     Career Planning

•         Giving Presentations                      •     Self-control

•         Adaptability                              •     Self-assessment

•         Working in a group or team                •     Self-discipline

•         Interviewing                              •     Self-marketing

•         Assertiveness                             •     Stress management

•         Customer Relations Skills                 •     Reputation

•         Dependability                             •     Telephone Skills

•         Dress Codes                               •     Trust

•         Romantic office relationships             •     Email etiquette

•         Office management                         •     Becoming a leader

•         Working with the boss                     •     Change management

•         Working with others (Peer to peer)        •     Negotiating

•         Organizational skills                     •     Self improvement

•         Sales skills- i.e. selling your ideas     •     Building a personal network

•         Empathy                                   •     Chain of command

•         Ethics                                    •     How to speak up

•         Etiquette                                 •     Office Politics

•         Flexibility                               •     Resume writing

•         Ability to work under pressure            •         Basic math skills

                                                              (This is a HARD skill)

•         Overall business acumen                   •     Grammar

•         Professional demeanor                     •     Emotional intelligence

•         Leadership Skills                         •     Initiative



    Instructors Guide       Business Written Communications             Page 18 of 29
Statistics and Additional Data on Soft Skills

Hartley & Associates performed an intense Internet investigation into the problems of Soft Skills. Out

of twenty-six interviews, twenty-four business representatives reported a concern with soft skills.

Only two interviewees did not feel it to be a problem and both admitted that since they were in senior

management positions, they did not typically interface with anyone other than their administrative

assistants or other senior managers.



The following statistics and data were pulled from studies, articles, and white papers from 2001 to

present. This is what we found:

53% of all CIO’s offer IT professionals training in non-IT areas (soft skills)

- CIO Magazine

The most important soft skills for IT were:

       37% Interpersonal (relationship) Skills

       20% Written and/or Verbal Skills

       17% Ability to work under pressure

       11% Overall business acumen15%

       15% Other / don’t know

Article “The Hard Truth: Soft Skills Matter” CIO Magazine

“Many scientific studies show that approximately 45% of time we spend in communication with others

is spent listening. Even though listening is critical to our everyday lives, during our formative and

educational years we learn little about listening well. Forty percent of the time in these learning years

is spent learning how to read. Thirty-five percent is spent learning how to write. Twenty-five percent is

spent learning how to talk and zero to one percent is spent on learning how to listen or communicate”

- Article “How to listen well”.



 Instructors Guide        Business Written Communications            Page 19 of 29
“It is true that there are no independent industry research figures available on the growth in demand

for soft skills, but companies on an average, estimate around 30-40 percent growth.”

- Article “Soft skills training: Outsourced vs. in-house” from IT People Evolve 2003.



"Soft skills are… in demand...Less-tangible skills desired by nearly all employers include

management and communications abilities, knowing how to work as part of a team and a keen sense

of business ethics. Many of the key soft skills for professionals were elucidated in a seminal report

known as SCANS, commissioned by the US Department of Labor in 1990 and still relevant today.”

- Clare Reardon, Manpower Inc.



“National data indicate that this lack of "soft skills" is a very serious and pervasive problem

- ” The Abell Foundation



“Hundreds of Fortune 1,000 companies have now embraced all sorts of soft skills, often at

considerable expense…”

- The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA)



“With more than 650,000 e-learning courses on the market, and the introduction of thousands of new

courses per year, the e-learning industry is expected to continue to grow in size and in diversity of

products offered. Information technology, business management skills and soft skills are predicted to

dominate among new product offerings... 36 percent of survey participants take e-learning courses on

soft skills.”

- ASTD Certification Institute.




 Instructors Guide       Business Written Communications            Page 20 of 29
“During the past several years, there has been increased emphasis on the development of soft skill

competence…”

- Article “Building a Case for Soft Skills During Hard Times” by Richard Ruhman - Business Leader

Magazine



“…most employers use soft skills to differentiate one candidate from another. As a result, job seekers

can gain a competitive advantage over other candidates by gaining a firm understanding of their own

soft skills and then clearly illustrating those skills to potential employers.”

- Article “Soft Skills” by Ian Morrison



“If two candidates interviewing for an IT position had similar skills, which one of the following

qualifications would you find most valuable?”

Industry-specific experience…………………………………43%

Soft Skills……………………………………………………….32%

“Interestingly, there was near unanimous agreement that soft skills were as highly valued as the

technical skills. 61% of pharmaceutical companies and CRO's specifically identified communication

and interpersonal relationship building as some of the most in-demand soft skills that need to be

identified in the recruiting process”

From Robert Half Technology National poll of 1400 CIO’s in companies of 100 or more:



Job-search suggestions for graduates.

“Highlight soft skills. More and more companies today seek professionals with a combination of top-

notch accounting knowledge and strong interpersonal abilities. Emphasize your communication skills

and any training received in your resume and cover letter.”

- Survey by Accountemps

 Instructors Guide        Business Written Communications             Page 21 of 29
“…a management studies professor at McGill University in Montreal, argues that MBA programs

mistakenly focus on "management by analysis…theory but don't address the "soft skills" that help

managers get out of their offices and learn to listen as well as talk...”

- Book “Managers Not MBAs” by Henry Mintzberg

The Results

1) Does the California business community have SOFT SKILLS problems with their employees and

   or candidates?

   YES, as reflected by the 24 letters, various articles, reports, and independent studies,

    soft skills have become a major deficit in today’s business.

2) Which Soft Skills need to be addressed?

   After reviewing all of the “soft skills” noted above and talking to the business community, it was

   determined that the following four areas are the primary “soft skills” deemed absolutely necessary:

        Listening Skills
        Writing
        Speaking/Presentations
        Workplace Relationships
These Soft Skills are broken down to:
               Listening Skills
                o How Human Communications Can Be Improved
                o Communications Cycle
               Writing
                o Types of Writing
                              Status Reports
                              Specifications
                              Trip Reports
                              Project Plans
                              Letters
                              Email
                              IM’ing

 Instructors Guide          Business Written Communications          Page 22 of 29
            Speaking/Presentations
             o Basics of Public Speaking
             o Define the audience and knowledge level
                       List your key points
                       Define your facts
                       Create Outline
                       Pick your media
                       Handouts


            Workplace Relationships
             o Value Confidentiality
             o Keep an Open Mind
             o Maintain a Positive Focus
             o Keep Office Relationships Professional
             o Recognize and Share Successes
             o Practice Attentive Listening
             o Give Authentic Feedback
             o Practice Timely & Confidential Correction
             o Receive acknowledgement
             o Accept Responsibility
             o Phone etiquette




                                    ###End Soft Skills Study###




Instructors Guide       Business Written Communications      Page 23 of 29
                                         Figures


                                    ACME Clothing Inc.
                            Presentation On New Hoodie Product
FIGURE #1




Hoodie Specifications:
   Two pockets
   Softest cotton jersey
   Long sleeves banded cuffs.
   Individually wrapped

Figure #2




Colors:
    Black
    White
    Forest Green
    Indigo Blue
   
Figure #2-1




Pricing: $39.99 MSRP $US
    Special 10% bonus commission for orders
    Samples will ship 1st week next
       month
    Contact Bill Johns, Product Manager
       888-555-0121

Figure #3




Instructors Guide    Business Written Communications    Page 24 of 29
STATUS REPORT From 3-15 to 3-19

The Cleveland shipment has been delayed. Inventory will be taken next weekend instead of next
month; volunteers will be needed to assist. Mary Smith, HR Coordinator, is leaving in 2 weeks. The
break room is closed due to plumbing repairs. Smoking is no longer permitted in front of the building,
The Dallas sales office is closing at the end of the year. The new CFO started this week.

Figure #4




                                STATUS REPORT From 3-15 to 3-19

   10. The Cleveland shipment has been delayed due to the fact that the factory in China had a fire.
   11. Inventory will be taken next weekend instead of next month; volunteers will be needed to
       assist. Note: Bill, Jen and I are available.
   12. The Dallas sales office is closing at the end of the year because of poor sales.
   13. The new CFO started this week.
   14. Mary Smith, HR Coordinator, is leaving in 2 weeks.
   15. The break room is closed due to plumbing repairs.
   16. Smoking is no longer permitted in front of the building.
   17. The weekly shipping reports are on your desk.
   18. Welcome back!

Kevin

Figure #5




                                        ###END FIGURES###




Instructors Guide       Business Written Communications          Page 25 of 29
                                   COMMONLY MISUSED WORDS


There are some words that we think we understand, but really don’t. Here is a list of commonly
misused words. It should be noted that when words are used incorrectly they break the flow of the
thought process or may even change the meaning of what you were trying to say.

Insure, ensure, and assure
Typically, “insure” is used within the insurance field. If you are talking about insuring your car or
house or different types of health insurance, this is the word you would use. Note that it usually
carries a direct object, but no indirect object. (Example – I need to insure the new car better than the
old one was because of the requirements of the loan on it.)

“Ensure” is used similarly, but usually in regard to ideas and actions. Note that it often has the word
“that” directly behind it. (Example – Please ensure that your supervisor understands why you will be
leaving early.)

“Assure” is different because it almost always takes an indirect object; that is, you need to say whom
you are assuring of the information. (Example – I can assure you that this is an unusual situation.)
The indirect object in the example is “you.”

Lay and lie
The key difference between these two words is intent or will. It involves a choice – a person or
animal, etc. can choose to lie upon something, but a book or pencil cannot choose to lay upon
something. Someone must put it there. Also, another clue is that “lay” always has a direct object.
(Example – Before I lie down to sleep each night, I lay my book on the nightstand.)

Also note that there can be confusion in one of the verb tenses:
(lay, laid, laid, laying) vs. (lie, lay, lain, lying)
(Example – I lay down yesterday [simple past tense of “lie”] for a nap, but whenever I nap, I always
lay my book [present tense of “lay] on the nightstand first.

Its and it’s
The secret here is that pronouns don’t take “apostrophe plus S” to make them possessive. Decide
whether you can change the “apostrophe plus S” to “is.” (Example – It’s going to be a long time
before the tech comes, so the copy machine is going to keep spitting out its paper regularly.) Since
you could say “It’s going to be a long time...” you know the apostrophe form is correct. But you
wouldn’t want to say “...spitting out it’s paper regularly.” Pronouns don’t take “apostrophe plus S” to
form the possessive: That is [my, your, her, his, its, their, our] book. Even when shifting a sentence to
a little different form, NONE of them use the apostrophe: The book is [mine, yours, hers, his, its,
theirs, ours].

Irregardless
This is NOT even a word in standard written English, although it’s used quite commonly in casual
writing or nonstandard speech. The correct usage is “regardless.” (Example – Regardless of the
outcome, I am still putting in my two-weeks notice.) Remember we said that language is always
changing? Perhaps this is one of those words that, through constant and regular use, will actually
become standard as time goes on.

Instructors Guide       Business Written Communications            Page 26 of 29
Infer and imply
The difference between these two involves whether there is some assuming going on by the reader
or listener. “Imply” means that something is inherent in the text or conversation without being explicitly
stated. (Example – When the teacher stated that the test results were not good, she implied that few,
if any, students got good grades.) On the other hand, “infer” is when the reader or listener draws
some kind of conclusion. (Example – When the teacher told us that we would all have to retake the
test, we inferred this was because few, if any, of us got a good grade on it.)

Got and gotten
Since the advent of “You’ve got mail!” these two words have become more and more confused in
standard English – both verbal and written. Their basis is the word “get” which means to receive in
some way, instead of meaning to possess in some way. Just remember that the basic verb forms of
“get” are (get, got, gotten, getting). (Example – I got a message yesterday that said “You have gotten
mail.”) Note, that the contraction “you’ve” actually stands for “you have” and so the correct form would
be “you have gotten,” not “you have got.” If the point is to say that there is some mail waiting for you
(you possess mail) – as opposed to you have received some mail – then it would simply be “You
have mail.”

Also in relation to the question of “got” being redundant, and “have” being sufficient, the phrase “You
have got to....” again uses the extra word where it is not needed in standard written English. The
meaning, here, is “must,” and to say “You have to...” is sufficient.

Farther and further
While there is a definite usage convention on these two, it’s hardly ever followed completely and the
two have become virtually interchangeable in both written and verbal communication. The “rule” says
that “farther” should only be used with physical distances, and “further” for everything else. (Example
– The farther we drove down the road, the further our discussion moved from its original intent.)

Discreet and discrete
These two can create some awfully funny incorrectly worded sentences. “Discreet” means having
discretion; that is, being careful in what you say or do. But “discrete” means separate or distinct.
(Example – I would prefer we kept our relationship discreet since we do not have a discrete office
setting.)

Different than and different from
Although these seem to have become interchangeable, many people still require that formal written
English fit the following: use “different from” when comparing two things, and use “different than”
when you use a whole clause to create the comparison. (Example – Your format looks different from
mine. Perhaps this is because the format I used is different than the most common business letter
formats.)

Continual and continuous
Both of these mean something that keeps going, but “continual” is used in reference to something
that is interrupted periodically, whereas “continuous” refers to a physical sense of continuation.
(Example – The continual barking of the dog was interfering with my concentration. Instead of
working, I started making a continuous line around the top of my desk using paper clips.)



Instructors Guide       Business Written Communications            Page 27 of 29
Complement and compliment
This is another combination that can create some quite funny sentences. When two things
“complement” one another, they fit together well. On the other hand, to “compliment” something is to
praise it. (INCORRECT Example – The company’s overarching goal compliments my report.
CORRECT Example – My report complements the company’s overarching goal.)

Affect and effect
The usage of these two can be rather confusing. The simplest explanation is that “affect” is usually
used as a verb with an indirect object, with the meaning of influencing the indirect object in some way.
(Example – The higher gas prices affected our vacation.) And most often, “effect” is used as a noun
to refer to HOW something affects something else. (Example – Higher gas prices had a definite effect
on our vacation.) The primary exception to this rule is a relatively unusual verb construction of “effect”
that means to start, or to create. (Example – His report suggested effecting a change in the procedure
manual.)

Apprise and appraise
These have clear-cut meanings; you just have to know which one you want to use. “Apprise” always
takes an indirect object (usually a person or group of people) and it means to give them information
about something. (Example – I apprised the committee of the fact that the schedule printed in the
paper was wrong.) “Appraise,” though, does not require an indirect object and means to judge the
merit of something. It’s most often used in real estate to mean setting a value for a certain property.
However, it can be used to “judge” other items as well. (Example – During your evaluation, we
appraise whether your absences affect your dependability.)

Your and you’re
Remember back in the discussion of “it” and “it’s,” we said that the “apostrophe plus S” meant you
could substitute “is?” This is similar in that here, the “apostrophe plus RE” means you can substitute
“are.” After all, in most cases except possessive, an apostrophe signals that letters are missing – in
this case the “A” from “are.” (Example – If you don’t return your library book soon, you’re going to be
facing outrageous late fees!)

To, too, and two
Most of us don’t use the word “two” incorrectly – it’s merely the written form of the number, “2.”
However, the other two often cause confusion. “Too” have two very different uses. First, it can mean
excessive, and it’s usually used – in this case – as an adverbial that modifies adjectives or other
adverbs. (Example – Today when I jogged, I ran too far and too hard for my injured leg to continue to
heal properly.) In the example, “too” modifies “far” and “hard,” implying that the distance and
speed/exertion were excessive. “Too” can also mean “also.” (Example – While I prefer meeting
deadlines, I like to go home on time, too.)

The third one, “to,” is either a preposition with several meanings, the most common of which is a
direction (Example – I went to the boss about it.), or it forms part of a verb. (Example – I went [to see]
the boss about it.)


                            ###END COMMONLY MISUSED WORDS###



Instructors Guide        Business Written Communications           Page 28 of 29
                            Credits and Disclaimers




                        This project was funded by a mini-grant provided by the Business/Industry
                                      Collaborative Grant and sponsored by the CIS
                                   Education Statewide Advisory Committee (BESAC).
                       It was researched, written, filmed, directed and produced from the studios of
 Business SoftSkills, Inc., Santa Ana, Ca. For additional information on other business soft skills
         lessons in Written Communications, Verbal Communications or Job Behavior,
                                    contact www.BusinessSoftSkills.com


                                           Disclaimers

                             The person(s), company(s) and events
                                portrayed in this video lesson are
                                 fictitious. No similarity to actual
                             person(s), living or dead, or company(s)
                                is intended or should be inferred.


                               Closed Caption display is controlled
                                 by playback hardware/software.
                                This includes variations in location
                               on the screen, font style, size, color,
                                background, duration and number
                                         of lines displayed.




                                        ###END _ ALL###




Instructors Guide     Business Written Communications            Page 29 of 29

								
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