The Skills Gap

Your team has dazzling CVs and an array of experience, achievements and technical skills - that's why you hired them. But are they all delivering their full value?

Many companies have programmes to address the longer-term development of staff and to provide the technical training required for their role. Both are helpful but individuals need strong communication skills to deliver all that they are capable of and it is those companies that prioritise this training that reap more of the benefits from their employees.

In my numerous years of working with highly experienced and intellectual individuals in the financial sector, I've lost count of the number of times I've seen a talented employee fail to communicate the great content or brilliant idea that they have created.

What are the most common symptoms of poor communication?

We’ve probably all seen someone freeze on the spot when their big moment arrives. Or they stare at the ground throughout or, more commonly, double their pace in a frenzy to deliver their message before an invisible alarm clock goes off. Employees sometimes become so obsessed with their own delivery that they don't pick up that the person that they are talking to is willing them to move on, speak more slowly or to talk about something more relevant to them.

What is the impact of poor communication?

Miscommunications can lead to missed opportunities; poor instructions can lead to calamities; and mismanaged conflicts can impact on relationships with colleagues and clients, all with potentially huge implications for revenue and team morale. You can probably add to this list from your own experiences.

The impact on the individuals involved is also important. For example, loss of self esteem and confidence can follow the poor presentation of weeks of hard work. The recipient of poor instructions can feel inadequate for their slowness to understand or for their delivery of the wrong output.

A team that communicates well achieves more and has a better work experience.

How can companies develop a culture of improved communications?

The key step is for the team and individuals to become aware of their behaviour in communications. We can teach them to recognise when they are in a specific communications situation and then develop their skills to react and behave in a way that achieves the desired outcome.

This can be achieved using group exercises that explore the behavioural extremes in a ‘safe’ training environment.  For example, we can force interruptions or extend pauses in a role-played conflict conversation.  The outcomes for the different approaches is immediately apparent and the learning point is well embedded through the experience.

We can use training exercises to first experience, then identify and then record the learning point.

Using this approach, we can ingrain key learning points quickly in a way that is also engaging and entertaining. Our teams are then equipped with new tools they can immediately put into practise in the office, resulting in better outcomes for your business.

As employers we focus too much on technical skills development and in a world where the art of face-to-face communication is becoming eroded it is time for a shift in focus towards internal and external communication skills that help build relationships and co-operative team working. This approach to personnel development can deliver real value for organisations and longevity of employment.

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