I’ve hired a lot of people in my time. From cashiers and ushers when I managed cinemas, through client service managers when working in digital agencies, through to software engineers, data analysts, and marketing managers when working in software startups.
Some of the hires were successful and some less so, but one thing the most successful ones had in common was the ability to communicate. They were capable of talking to their colleagues, or to customers or partners about the needs of our business, and they were capable of listening to these people and hear what they wanted.
They were prepared to say "I don’t know” and “I’m sorry I don’t understand” and they were prepared to tailor their own language to suit the audience they were addressing, rather than try and appear like an expert by throwing in jargon and buzz words.
Communicators will help your business move forward because they can share ideas and get others to understand why they’re important and how to put the ideas into practice. Communicators will tell you when things aren’t going right and are willing to talk through how you might find a solution to the problem.
They don’t all communicate in the same way. Some will happily stand in front of a group and lead discussions whilst others will have quiet conversations with many people. Some will be verbal in their approach, whilst others will draw diagrams and share flowcharts.
The important thing is that they’re communicating.
If you’ve got members of your team who keep their heads down, follow a process, and push tasks onto the next person in the chain then you’re open to potential problems. Maybe not today, but at some point in the future. They might not have asked the questions they needed to in order to get the right solution. They might not have prepared things in the right way for the next person who picks up what they’re been working on.
Yes, they might have passed all the competency based tests you can throw at them, but unless you are testing for communication skills then you’ve left yourself open to a future failed employee.
How do you think you can test for good communication skills? Let me know in the comments section below.