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Would you correct an employee's grammar?

edited August 2009 in Human Resources
My payroll lead is great at her job, but terrible at writing e-mails grammar wise.

For example she uses "want" instead of "won't" all the time.

Or here's one of her latest to a field managers


We found that the FMC commissions sent to the Payroll inbox by (delete employee's real name), get sent to Payroll twice. To eliminate the duplicate emails, blank will have blank and blank stop their forwarding. With mean, we will need to make sure that email get forward to us for processing every month.

My boss wants me to mention it in her performance review every year (which I do) but I don't think it's worth putting her on a "performance plan" or anything drastic like that, and I certainly don't want to offend her by correcting her e-mails grammatically.

Thoughts? Thanks!


  • jadegurljadegurl ✭✭✭
    If it is in your budget how about suggesting she attend one of those generic business grammer courses which can cover anything from composing emails to interoffice memos?
    Of course you can always stress to her the importance of spellcheck and perhaps reading the completed email before she hits send... :wink:
  • Seriously, I can't even understand what that email is supposed to be saying. If people can't write, they won't get better if no one says anything. I think you need to correct them for her, and maybe she will learn something, and if not, maybe she will at least ask for help before sending them out in the future.
  • rrupertrrupert ✭✭✭
    I have to agree that it is very hard to understand what she is stating. I would first suggest that she read the emails outloud....usually helps me find the mistakes in using the wrong word.
    But how often does she send emails? That would make a difference!
  • My payroll lead is great at her job, but terrible at writing e-mails grammar wise.


    I'm unfortunately in the same boat as you, and I have had to take the step of requesting that anything he sends out that is sent to more than one person goes through his supervisor or me first. In addition to helping him develop, it ensures that the right message is communicated (and understood) and is a CYA step. Also- poor grammar and spelling reflects back on the team as a whole when he is communicating policy or procedure, not just him- and I am not willing for people to think all of Payroll are uneducated ignoramuses.

    Oh, and one last thought- too often, I get Payroll people interviewing who don't see their place in the greater business- only focusing on processing checks and data. They may be good at payroll, but that doesn't make for a good employee. As it relates to your situation, I see good business-level spelling and grammar as essential competencies for anyone in a business environment, so my opinion is that it needs addressing.
  • "Lead, please read this email aloud to me." Oftentimes people don't notice how things sound aloud when they're typing and it becomes easier to miss typos. I used to chuckle when I'd read some of them until I caught myself doing it a time or two. For instance, "When you get here" might come out "When you get hear" because I can HEAR something else going on around me.

    "Lead, when you send email communications with these typos and misused words, it reflects poorly on your professionalism and the ability of this department to correctly administer sensitive employee information. If we are seen as inconsiderate with our words, do you think people trust us with their money? What could you do differently in the future?" It spells out the impact her actions have - both on herself and those with whom she works - and asks her to take part in the resolution process. Buy-in is always a good thing, IMO.
  • I've had to address this with payroll staff as well - and I believe it's TOTALLY worth mentioning. If we show that are careless when typing letters how do we expect the staff to believe that we are not careless when typing numbers. We have worked really hard to build trust and a reputation of being always on top of everything and always right. Poor communication can completely undermine that.

    Someone in our HR department has poor communication and everyone just rolls their eyes when they get a memo from her. It plays into her credibility.
  • Good points David -
    I had similar thoughts yesterday, but no time to respond - It appears the payroll lead has valuable skills related to payroll but has this communications weakness - Marcus Buckingham with the Gallup organization (First Break All the Rules, Now Discover Your Strengths, etc.) indicates that trying to correct weaknesses does not work as well as playing to strengths - the thing to do is mitigate or do enough with the weaknesses to keep them from being a problem but build on the strengths - one way that people mitigate weaknesses is to delegate the things they do not do well to someone else - David suggested having someone proof read them - I suggest considering a ghost writer. I did not bring that up right away - well, it is sort of touchy - but it seems that various things have been tried here and nothing has changed - which means that no matter how much energy and resources are applied to changing this person's e-mail communications - it ain't going to happen.

    I'm not saying there is a disability here - but take a lesson from the ADA - if someone is not good at something - make a "reasonable accommodation" - give that particular task to someone who does it well and let this person do the things that he or she is good at - and everyone will be happier and more productive.
  • I'm so good at written communication, sometimes I forget my who my audience is. :roll:
  • I'm so good at written communication, sometimes I forget my who my audience is.
    But you remember when the applause starts - right? :wink:
  • I'm so good at written communication, sometimes I forget my who my audience is.
    But you remember when the applause starts - right? :wink:

    You betcha! :wink:
  • What I would probably do is have a little talk with everybody (without mentioning any names or specific emails) and stress the importance of proper grammer and po'fezianlizm. Then if that doesn't work have a one-on-one with the offending employee. Grammer like that is unacceptable to me. What's next? Snding msgs lik U R texting?
  • We had an employee in my department for whom English was a second language. In his position, he was required to communicate with employees as a pretty significant portion of his job. At one point, I was made his supervisor, never given the official title, but delegated to the role of unofficial babysitter as there were often complaints from others within the company(particularly at the manager level and above), that they could not understand what he was trying to say, either in writing or verbally. He was honestly trying to do a good job, but sometimes his words and phrasing were out of context, and his tone would come acrross as a bit rude. It was almost as if he was trying too hard to find the right words to make it sound professional, that it ended up sounding very awkward.

    Since I am considered to be a pretty effective communicator, it was determined as his "supervisor", that all written communications beyond that of dealing with the "regular" employees one-on-one, would be delegated to me. If something required a group email we would approach one of two ways: 1) I would write the email myself or 2) He would write, and I would proofread and approve. Generally I would let him write, and then work with him to clean it up before it was sent. He really did want to learn to do better, but nobody wanted to take the time and really teach him how. He actually made quite a bit of improvement, but ultimately was laid off, mainly because the damage had already been done, and they were just looking for a reason to let him go. He was very good technically at his job, just not a great communicator.

    I personally think that whenever there is any sort of written communication that is going out representative of the department, it should always be touched by two sets of eyes. Even with spell check things often get missed as spell check will not always flag a word that is spelled correctly, but is gramatically incorrect. I saw an email that came out once that said a person was hired to "assasinate" the boss, rather than "assist" the boss. Spell check didn't catch it, and we all got a good laugh. Granted it is not time-effective to do that with every email that goes out the door, but it does help if the email is going to a large group of people, someone that is higher level management, or is a sensitive topic that may be taken out of context.

    The thing to point out to her is that she is not just representing herself as an employee or a person, but is representing the entire department, and if the communication is going to people outside the company, then she is representing the entire company. That may put a new perspective on it.
  • Eye dew knot know no watt ewe wont four affect. Witch wee chews effects hour coarse oar Wynn wee precede. Won affect Mae bee knew president inn udder satyrs fraction.
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