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Colleague with poor writing skills

(41 Posts)
SQLCat Sat 19-Oct-19 14:49:19

I recently took a chance on someone for my team who on paper had the right experience to fill a role I had.
Now that I am training her up it’s become apparent that her communication and writing skills are pretty rough.
Her work is poorly formatted, her spelling poor (and this is with MS Word), she writes in text speak and her punctuation is dreadful. She seems to have a hatred of full stops.
She told me that she believes the content of her work is what matters most and that grammar and punctuation come afterwards.
She is meant to be producing technical process documentation.
She even spells clients’ names wrong in emails to them.
I am being unreasonable?

OP’s posts: |
StealthPolarBear Sat 19-Oct-19 14:53:16

Presumably good written communication skills were a requirement of the role and the job description she's signed? If so she needs to improve - quick!

purpleme12 Sat 19-Oct-19 15:10:33

Erm no you're not being unreasonable. These are basic necessary skills.

Effiedg Sat 19-Oct-19 15:14:15

Is the issue down to - she can't do it or she won't do it. Did she get a decent grade for GCSE English? That could tell you a lot.

Ylvamoon Sat 19-Oct-19 15:18:09

No you are not!
Good communication skills, especially in writing is vital for any type of documentation. I assume there are technical terms she needs to use, that are spelt wrong or used in the wrong context / not at all??
I'd have a stern word with her ... improve to industry standards or it's not the right job for her. As for Spelling customers names wrong, that's a basic and total no go.

Lulualla Sat 19-Oct-19 15:19:00

Is she still on probation? I would get rid and hire someone else who can do that job, unless you want to teach her high school leave English.

Loopytiles Sat 19-Oct-19 15:20:20

Obviously it’s a performance issue, if she has under two years service would follow the process to fire her.

SpringFan Sat 19-Oct-19 15:20:39

No you are definately not being unreasonable.
If sheis writing technical process documents, you need to start pulling her up on her work quickly, with a view to letting her go.
I assume she is young, as I have heard her viewpoint from recent school leavers, but her teachers have not done her any favours.

SQLCat Sat 19-Oct-19 15:26:33

Thank you!
I was beginning to think I was unreasonable.
She’s actually in her 30s and should have a degree. She claims that she wasn’t taught about full stops at school (really??!).
I have never seen anything like it.

OP’s posts: |
Moonflower12 Sat 19-Oct-19 15:34:26

What's her degree in? Have you seen proof it exists?

SQLCat Sat 19-Oct-19 15:38:55

She wouldn’t have been hired without a degree, but HR would have verified it.
I will work to address this through the performance management process.

OP’s posts: |
Mintypea5 Sat 19-Oct-19 15:42:56

Could she be dyslexic? I'm in my 30s with a good degree but am very dyslexic and struggle massively especially with punctuation, gramma and syntax.

I've got qui the a massive complex about it because I've always been embarrassed and frustrated by it no matter how hard I try I just can't grasp it. I've developed coping Mechanism at work but still struggle

user1497207191 Sat 19-Oct-19 15:48:08

First step is for to actually realise and appreciate that spelling, grammar and punctuation actually matter.

Whilst she has the "doesn't matter" attitude, you're wasting your time trying to get her to improve.

If she can't grasp that, then she needs to be let go. You'll just end up wasting your time and not achieving anything.

Rainbowshine Sat 19-Oct-19 15:53:30

How did you assess her suitability for the role? It’s worth doing a task-based activity so you can see how someone would tackle a typical part of the job.

Did she have previous experience of writing technical documents on her cv - you say she was suitable on paper so what has she done that made you think that she could do it?

Maybe use that as a starting point to check she understands what is required and performance management after that.

CloudRusting Sat 19-Oct-19 15:55:07

Unless she has dyslexia I would speak to HR about exiting her tbh. She can’t give you what you want and she considers it unimportant - the fact alone she doesn’t see this is core

AFairlyHardAvocado Sat 19-Oct-19 15:56:44

It's a case of necessary skills and competency - you need the role to be executed to the job spec and at the moment it isn't.

If nothing else, I can't imagine telling my new boss that their concern doesn't matter so flippantly! I think her refusal to even discuss the issues and how she can combat them is a sign that she isn't going to be a particularly diligent and effective member of your team - really bad attitude!

mankyfourthtoe Sat 19-Oct-19 16:05:38

Could she have lied about her degree? Has it been verified?

C0untDucku1a Sat 19-Oct-19 16:10:22

Her attitude is poor. Nobody knows everything about correct spelling, punctuation and grammar, but it is her attitude that will prevent her from Improving. Id correct and send back everything to be rewritten. Again and again. Circle in an obvious colour all the mistakes. Make is obvious. But then, that’s a massive waste of time for whoever has that job. Id certainly be circling all the errors in a document and keeping them.

C0untDucku1a Sat 19-Oct-19 16:12:08

Could she have lied about her degree

I don't think that matters. Every person I work with, and most of my friends, have degrees. Far too many of them write could of or alot.

mankyfourthtoe Sat 19-Oct-19 16:18:29

True but it'd be the easy way out of the situation.

BlankTimes Sat 19-Oct-19 16:27:42

She wouldn’t have been hired without a degree, but HR would have verified it

Do check this was done, occasionally what a dept should do is different to what a dept actually did at the time.

She told me that she believes the content of her work is what matters most and that grammar and punctuation come afterwards
You tell her she's representing the company and if clients cannot understand or are offended by her errors they leave and she costs the Company money, ask her directly what does she think her future with the Company is going to be?

SpringFan Sat 19-Oct-19 17:57:47

It is worth asking HR to confirm they verified her degree. In this case, I might ask them to check with the University - I believe this can be done.
The qualifications of the headmistress of a local school disappeared from their website shortly before she left- a group of parents had been concerned about her and asked her claimed University to confirm her (non-existant) degree.

SQLCat Sat 19-Oct-19 18:44:35

Thanks everyone.
Would it be worthwhile asking HR if she could be dyslexic? Would HR know that kind of thing?

Thanks @BlankTimes I have tried that argument. I will try again. I reminded her she was representing the team. I will try again from a company perspective.
Appreciate the help!

OP’s posts: |
Cabezona Sat 19-Oct-19 18:50:39

Could she be responding so flippantly because she is embarrassed and trying to cover?

If you don't think so, I'd tell her that this is a serious issue, part of her job and if it doesn't improve she will be on a performance plan.

This is part of her work content so that's a shit argument. She could write the equivalent of the Sistine chapel but if no one can tell where her sentences begin and end, what's the point?

StealthPolarBear Sat 19-Oct-19 18:52:42

Does she have to write sql? Does she have the same lax approach?

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