A question I often get asked when I do my 10 Behaviours of Effective Employees talk is which of the 10 I think is the most important. The answer is always communication skills. Always.
Good communication skills will give you such an advantage and head start as a manager (or any role) that I always advocate improving them.
Here are five reasons why I believe communication skills are so important
1. Hiring Managers are looking for good communication skills
In a survey done in 2014 about what skills hiring managers are seeking – communication skills were the top 4 (Oral, listening, written, presentation) and a little further down the list was Negotiation skills.
As a hiring manager I look for a variety of communication skills for all roles too. Why?
Because good communication skills means people can articulate their ideas better, will encounter fewer conflicts (if people can be clear and listen well), can lead teams, can write clearly, can avoid the many miscommunications that happen when we’re building software, can facilitate groups of people and can hopefully engage with more people across the business too.
Building software is a collaborative and co-operative process – and the heart of all of this lies effective communication.
2. The gap between those building and those consuming is getting narrower
As I teach in my SuperPower Communication workshop the gap between those building the products and those consuming them is getting narrower. It used to be that if you were part of the Dev team you never spoke with the customer. Now customers and Dev are working alongside each other. This requires good communication skills, diplomacy and sometimes, the ability to deal with difficult questions.
As a manager you will likely be expected to talk to clients, customers, investors, partners and suppliers – this can be daunting for those who know their skills are less than polished.
3. We don’t get taught communication skills in education or work – so why would we believe we’re good at communicating?
There are few education systems on the planet that teach communication skills so it’s no surprise people enter the world of work unable to listen, write, present or discuss as effectively as they could do.
Very few businesses teach communication skills either, which is odd really given that the majority of problems in the workplace are because of poor communication (wrong requirements, handovers, lack of clarity etc).
It’s no surprise then that our skills in communication will be left wanting. That’s why there is so much to gain from improving your skills in communication – you will stand out, you will be able to address a growing number of problems in organisations and you will be employable.
4. Good communication skills can change a situation
Ever been in a meeting that’s descended in to chaos, shouting and negativity? I have and it’s totally and utterly pointless – and it’s all because people can’t listen, don’t respect others, cannot articulate their point of view without shouting or are arguing over misconceptions of plans and strategies. Or maybe they’re just angry and shouty – don’t hang around people like that for too long. There’s no need – in fact, in my experience, the better outcomes come from meetings where people are respectful, engages and able to communicate effectively.
Being a good communicator means you can read the room and the sentiments and the meaning behind statements. You can spot those who are disengaged and you can bring out the quiet people to share their ideas in a safe way. The ability to do this comes through being a good communicator. You can literally change the mood and outcomes by changing the way people communicate – and it all comes from being able to read people in the room.
Of course, some cultures can be full of conflict and still be effect (psychological safety and culture), but even when you observe these – people are listening and dialogue is flowing.
5. Good communication skills will help your career
Take a look around at the most influential people in your world of work – those you admire and respect at work. The chances are they are good communicators. They may not be perfect in all areas of communication but they will likely excel in one area or another. In good companies run by talented people, it’s rare to find people in leadership roles who don’t communicate very well.
Being able to listen, write clearly, articulate your ideas in a logical way and lead people are all valuable communication skills and will all help you boost your career.
Communication skills really will help you stand apart from others and be as effective as you can be. Developing them will be great for your career and help you lead others through change.
If you’re interested in developing your skills further then keep your eye’s out for my Communication Skills – The SuperPower workshop public dates!