These 2 Communication Skills Will Transform Your Organization in 2018
We may live in a digital world, but soft skills like communication, problem solving, collaboration, and empathy are becoming more valued than technology.
-Paul Roehrig, Chief Strategy Officer at Cognizant Digital Business
Tech trends like AI, blockchain, big data, and IoT dominate the headlines, making it easy for business leaders to assume that getting ahead on technology is their most important priority. And yet, again and again, studies show that soft skills ultimately drive organizations forward. Some say the rise of technology is making clear communication more vital than ever before.
Regardless of your age, industry, or position, it’s essential to communicate effectively with those around you. What communication skills are the most important to master in 2018? And, as a business owner or learning professional, what soft skills training should you prioritize for your team in the year ahead?
1. Improve cross-functional team communication
In 2018, business leaders will continue to embrace the idea of cross–functional teams. Why? One of the best ways to generate new ideas is to bring together the minds of different departments and encourage them to work towards a common goal. But poor communication can make that a challenge, and 75% of cross–functional teams are dysfunctional.
To get the best results and harness the power of this synergy, organizations will need to empower their cross-functional teams with the skills they need to break through silos:
- giving and receiving valuable feedback
- cross-cultural communication
- writing effective emails
- eliminating unnecessary jargon
- leading effective virtual meetings
- communicating across time zones.
Kate Nugent, Ariel’s Director of Product, believes that being clear, concise, and impactful is especially important for global leaders: their communications cascade across an organization. She recommends analyzing your teams before you speak or write to them, starting with questions like
- what do they know?
- what do they need to know?
- what do they need from me?
- what style of communication will engage them?
- what do I want them to feel?
2. Help your teams “manage up”
A 2018 survey showed that 75% of American workers “care a great deal about the overall business performance of their employer,” but only 33% believe they make a major impact on their employer’s business performance.
This is the year to take an honest look at your organization. Are you giving your team the tools they need to communicate effectively with leadership? Are you equipping them with the confidence to share their ideas, speak their minds, and make a true impact?
Communicating well in any direction is important, but organizations looking to leverage their most valuable asset—their employees—must help them manage up. To stay ahead of your competition, your team should be able to influence without authority and lead from any chair. Elizabeth Martin, Ariel’s Director of Client Success, offers a few words of wisdom:
“Analyze your audience—what does he or she need and how does he or she prefer to receive the information? Think about WIIFM (what’s in it for me)—how can you make someone pay attention and do what you need him/her to do when they are busy or focused on other things?”
Kate Nugent adds, “People usually engage and make decisions with their emotions, so if you can tap into their emotions, you can engage and influence them.” When your teams polish soft skills like empathy and communication, they also hone their ability to influence.
What communication skills do you think will matter most in 2018 and beyond? Share in the comments below!