Front Office Management & Business Writing

Skills Required
1.       Active Listening – giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate and not interrupting at an inappropriate times.
2.       Coordination – Adjusting one’s actions in relation to other people’s actions.
3.       Speaking – Being able to talk with people to convey message effectively.
4.       Critical Thinking – using logic and reasoning to identify strengths and weaknesses, alternative solutions, conclusions and approaches to problems.
5.       Management of Personnel Resources – motivating, developing and directing people as they work, and identifying the best fit for the job.
6.       Time Management – managing one’s own time with respect to other people’s time.
7.       Monitoring – monitoring/assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective actions.
8.       Complex Problem Solving – Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
9.       Social Perceptiveness – being aware of other’s reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
10.   Instructing – teaching others how to do something
11.   Writing – communicates effectively in writing as appropriate to the needs of the recipient/audience
12.   Negotiation – bringing others together and trying to reconcile differences.

Culture in Workplace Reception and Customer Service Skills
1.       Phone Etiquette
2.       Making Appointment
3.       Typing Correspondence
4.       Setting up Meetings (including the preparation of the agenda, recording and generating of the minutes)

Written Communication Essentials
1.       Professional Business Writing Process
2.       Pre-Writing
3.       Business Letter Writing
4.       Email Writing

Professional Business Writing Process
Step 1: Pre-write
1.       Generate Ideas
(Brainstorm, Free Writing, Mind Mapping, Use Post Its [Sticky Notes], Use the 5Ws)
a.       Plan out what you will say to make your writing more direct and effective.
b.      Use words sparingly and keep sentences short and direct to the point.
c.       Avoid jargon and fancy words. Strive for clarity instead.
d.      Make use of the 5 Ws – Who, What, Where, When, Why

2.       Analyze your audience – understand and know your audience
a.       What is important to them?
b.      What will pursuade/convince them?
Note the difference between Formal and Informal
Informal – thanks for emailing me on 9th July.
Formal – thank you for your email dated July 9.
Informal – Sorry I can’t make it
Formal – I am afraid I will not be able to attend
Informal – Can you?
Formal – I was wondering if you could..
·         Some emails to colleagues can be informal if you have a long working relationship and know them well. This is the style that is closest to speech so there are often everyday words and conversational expressions that can be used. ‘Don’t forget’, ‘Catch you later’, ‘Cheers’
·         The reader may also accept of overlook minor grammatical errors in informal emails. However, if the email is going to a client or senior colleague, bad grammaer and an over-friendly writing style will most probably not be acceptable.

3.       Organize and Select ideas – document organization
a.       Chronological – arrange in order of time
b.      Sequential – characterized by regular sequence or parts
c.       Geographical – relating to the natural features, population, industries etc., of a region/s.
d.      Cause and Effect
e.      Level of Importance
f.        Compare/Contract

Step 2: Draft and Get feedback
Step 3: Revise based on feedback. Also, make sure your writing has:
1.       Specifics
2.       A positive or neutral tone
3.       Formatting for emphasis and clarity

Step 4: Edit
1.       Conciseness
a.       Keep sentences short – limit the number of sentences to 20 words or less, try to keep sentences under 12 words.
b.      Use simple words instead of long ones
c.       Eliminate words that repeat ideas or don’t add value to the sentence
d.      Remember the ‘two clause’ rule

2.       Active voice - a form or set of forms of a verb in which the subject is typically the person or thing performing the action and which can take a direct object (e.g. she loved him as opposed to the passive form he was loved ). a form or set of forms of a verb in which the subject is typically the person or thing performing the action and which can take a direct object (e.g. she loved him as opposed to the passive form he was loved ).

Active voice describes a sentence where the subject performs the action stated by the verb.  In passive voice sentences, the subject is acted upon by the verb. Check out the examples below.

When To Use Passive Voice
a.       When you must deliver bad news. – The decision to terminate your leave was agreed upon by all the members of the committee.
b.      When the subject is not important or you don’t know the subject. – The children were delighted  by the sudden appearance of the clown.
c.       When you aren’t sure who or what is responsible for an action. – Their house was broken into last night.
d.      When you want to focus attention on the action,not the doer of the action. – When harvest time approaches, the potato plants are sprayed with a chemical to keep them from sprouting.

3.       Parallel construction
Means to make sure ideas in a list or a series are constructed the same way.
-          that parts of the sentence that are parallel or balanced in meaning should be parallel or balanced in structure.
Example: If you write – She likes swimming, running and to play the piano. To play the piano is a different construction from swimming and running.
So you should write – She like swimming, runniong and playing the piano. – to the make the activties parallel in structure.
Not Parallel -  A Manager’s job is both rewarding and a challenge.
Parallel – A Manager’s job is both rewarding and challenging.

a.       Use construction that makes meaning clear
b.      Keep constructions Parallel

Step 5: Proofread
1.       Agreement
a.       make sure subjects and verbs agree in number
b.      are collective nouns (jury, team, family, etc.) singular or plural, when they function as a unit; as is usually the case, treat them as singular.
“The Board is pleased to announce the promotion of Jane Denver to Acting Manager.”
“The Committee made a decision to move forward.”
“The jury has reached its decision.”
c.       Don’t let additional words in a sentence muddy the waters/create confusion when they come between a subject and its verb.
“The tulips need watering.”
“The tulips in the pot on the balcony need watering.”
2.       Punctuation
a.       Comma
b.      Colon
c.       Apostrophe
3.       Spelling – use dictionary, spelling check.. *tip, i before e, except c.