When companies want to fill open positions, they look for candidates with certain attributes. Usually organizations describe which skill sets and experiences they want potential employees to have, but most of the time those are limited to educational credentials, professional certifications, and proficiencies in certain well-defined tasks (e.g., software applications).

Sure, many of those requirements lists do include “communication skills,” but only in the same way that they usually also include “ability to multitask” and “time-management skills”: as not much more than abstract concepts. Organizations feel that they should want these skills in their employees so they put them in position announcements, but rarely give careful thought to what having those skills actually entails and therefore don’t actually look very hard for them. And for that reason, companies often miss out on the tremendous value those abilities—particularly communication skills—bring to their business.

The most obvious ways in which employees’ communication skills can benefit the organization are evident in customer-facing functions. For example, think about the first impression that a food-service employee makes when a customer steps up to the counter. With a friendly greeting, a correctly processed transaction, and a sincere “Have a nice day!” at the end, an employee can use effective communication to create a positive customer experience (and one that’s likely to create repeat customers).

On a similar note, think about some time when you’ve had to call a customer support number. Maybe you were ready to make changes to your current cell phone plan and wanted to explore the (many!) different options available. Or maybe you were looking at Microsoft Windows’ infamous “blue screen of death” and needed help to exorcise it from your computer. Whatever the issue, if you’ve ever found yourself in a situation in which you needed someone else’s expertise to help you resolve a problem—and you needed that person to be able to explain to you what was going on—then you already know how important it is for people in those positions to have excellent communication skills.

But the value of communication is also felt far beyond company–client interactions. Strong communication skills are also essential to what happens within an organization. Employees need to be able to function as a team, and they can’t do that unless they can communicate well with each other. Employees and managers need to be able to communicate well with each other, too, so they can work together to address structural and process issues effectively (through shared feedback and assessments, group innovation and brainstorming, etc.). The ability of an organization’s employees (at all levels) to get their jobs done has a direct impact on the company’s products or services—and therefore the company’s bottom line. Any organization that ignores this fact makes itself vulnerable to market shifts.

No matter how knowledgeable a salesperson is about the company’s product or services, he won’t be able to close the sale unless he’s a good communicator with customers. Factory floor workers can’t do their jobs effectively and efficiently unless they can work together well. And a technical support expert who knows her way around every operating system out there can’t help company employees (or clients) with their tech problems unless she can communicate well enough to bridge the gap between the issues they’re trying to describe and her expertise in the area.

No matter its size or industry, a company can’t thrive unless it prioritizes strong communication skills among its employees in all functions of the organization. At Insight Worldwide we have identified communication skills as one of the nine core proficiencies employees need to succeed in the workplace. Contact us today to learn how our Job Fit Assessments can help your company identify which applicants have the communication skills your organization needs to deliver its products and services successfully and to outstrip its competition.

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