A well-written, value-added recommendation can be the key to making positive change in your organization. This is critical when your recommendations have widespread impact on your global organization or require significant financial investment. So how can you write more effective, value-added recommendations?
First, consider language, perception and culture, and the situation at hand before you put pen to paper. Then, follow my 7 recommendation guidelines below.
Participants in my report writing workshops never fail to engage in a lively discussion about recommendations. Their opinions are influenced in part by their native language, their English ability, their perception of language and their national culture. Combine these with specifics about the situation, including risk, benefits, cost, and current environment, and what have you got? A recipe for as many differing opinions as there are participants in the room plus, of course, my opinion.
Language, perception and culture
We may come from different backgrounds and countries. And it’s very like that we have varying levels of education and technical knowledge. As a result, our English ability is entirely individual. Our perception of language, and sometimes even the meaning we assign to words, can be as unique as our fingerprints.
A classic example here is the use of “should” or “must” in a recommendation. When I worked as an internal auditor, we used standard language such as “Management should implement controls over ….”. This is entirely acceptable.
However in some countries like Germany, the verb “should” does not carry the same weight, and therefore the recommendation may be viewed as more of a suggestion, a “nice-to-have”, rather than as an obligation to do something.
Situation at hand
Context plays a part in determining what action is recommended and the words chosen to express that recommendation. For example, what would you recommend when controls over a certain process are lacking AND your company is laying off 5% of its workers due to slow sales and lack of cash flow? What if the lack of controls presents a significant risk? Would you recommend manual controls be implemented, or would you recommend that the company invest in an entirely new, expensive, and yet “best option” technical solution?
To determine the most appropriate recommendation, it’s important to be aware of the larger corporate environment, your audience and their needs. A value-added recommendation can then be constructed, one that can be realistically implemented in the current environment while ensuring risks and losses are minimized.
Effective written communication means being mindful. So mind these 7 guidelines for value-added recommendations:
- Describe the action to be taken. The level of the detail in the recommendation will depend on context, level of expertise, and level of responsibility you want in terms of finding the right solution.
- Indicate who should take the action, typically a job title such as Department Head, IT.
- Indicate the deadline for implementation.
- Objectively address the root cause of the situation where possible.
- Ensure the recommendation is appropriate to ensure risk is minimized.
- Show the benefits that will or are expected to result from implementation.
- Take available resources and the environment into account.
If you can check off each of these items as you write your recommendation, you will be on the way to ensuring the recommendations you make are value added, easy to act on, and create positive change within your organization.
P.S. For more information about recommendations, download my free eBook “5 Must-know Techniques to Persuade Your Reader”, or access the recording of my free webinar, “5 Quick-Start Techniques to Get the Results You Want from Your Audit Report”.
P.P.S. If you like this article, please share it or like it with the buttons, or let me know by commenting below. Thanks!