On Grammar

Most geeks I’ve encountered in the technology world aren’t exactly well-rounded. Many of them excelled at math or science (or simply computers), but ignored English class. As a result, they are absolutely brilliant at their technical jobs, but act like it’s the end of the world if they have to write a business memo.

As a geek leader, however, you cannot afford the same luxury. Your department or group must be able to present a business-like face to your company or the outside world–especially in printed memoranda or publications. Due to your geeks’ probable dislike of writing, this duty will fall in your lap.

I was fortunate enough to be an English geek in school, and therefore understood and was able to teach my geeks the basic rules of grammar (not that I am always perfect, as you can see by reading this blog). Well, I could at least teach them about my pet peeves. However, no matter how many rules they eventually learned, I eventually learned that I had to proofread most communications that they sent outside the department. Not usually for message, but always for grammar. I also sent out fairly regular “grammar Nazi” emails to my department–usually the cause for some hilarity.

If you are a leader of geeks and don’t feel comfortable with your writing or your grammar, I would strongly suggest reading books on business writing. You can even Google things about which you are unsure. Your geeks might not seem to appreciate your efforts, but your boss will.