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For companies, effective reading should be a fundamental employee skill. It only makes economic sense. Yet, it is overlooked and neglected.

At work, we need to read effectively, i.e., our reading must produce the desired result. It must help us directly, like when we read an email that requests something from us and we reply accurately and precisely. Or, it must help us indirectly, like when we have to refer to different sources to write a report.

Here’s what effective readers do when they read:

They gather information:

  • The who, what, when, where and how
  • What is fact and what is opinion
  • Determine the meaning of a new word based on context

They quickly grasp what is stated:

  • What is the single idea of the piece?
  • How is the author supporting his thoughts?
  • How are sentences and paragraphs organised for impact on the reader?

They understand what is not stated:

  • Is the author being rude, angry, hopeful, indifferent, or critical?
  • What conclusions does the author want the reader to draw?

Schools do their best to introduce the skill to us – they call it reading comprehension. Once we leave school, it needs to be taken to the next level in college and beyond. Unless we read for pleasure or study literature, that doesn’t happen.

We join the work force and encounter this situation: we send someone an email requesting information and what we receive is incomplete, inaccurate, or not what we asked for. We then spend time and effort to follow up with further emails or calls to get what we want. The reason this happens? The reader or the writer or both are not effective readers.

Here’s what effective readers become:

  • Result-oriented writers – they write with the reader in mind
  • Efficient and more productive workers – they save their company’s time and money
  • Better communicators and consequently, better leaders

Companies should train their employees to be effective readers. Not only does it have a cascading effect on written and spoken communication, it also improves efficiency and morale within an organisation, and impacts the company’s bottom line. Effective readers make economic sense.