Among human resources training priorities, employee communication is often now more important than skills, say many executives.

Two-thirds of executives responding to a survey say communication skills are most needed by certain employees.

That’s according to a 2014 study by AMA Enterprise, a division of the American Management Association.

“It appears that many companies are stepping up training and development for individuals, employees who aren’t necessarily considered high potentials or the equivalent, but who are essential to meeting business objectives,” said Jennifer Jones, Director at AMA Enterprise, which provides organizations with assessment, measurement, and tailored training solutions.

“These are the key people who get things done but may not be part of a team or have any direct management authority. They were sometimes overlooked in recent years, but that may be changing,” she explained.

“Being able to frame ideas and share them with colleagues in both writing and speaking is so fundamental that these are most often a starting point in professional growth and development,” Ms. Jones added.

Here’s the breakdown of responses to this question:

If your organization makes an effort to develop individual contributors, which of the following kinds of content are included in such programs?

Communication skills – 66 percent

Skills/competences specific to individual’s role – 60 percent

Leadership development – 52 percent

Project management – 49 percent

Interpersonal skills – 48 percent

Collaboration – 43 percent

Decision making – 40 percent

Critical thinking – 38 percent

Cultural sensitivity/diversity – 32 percent

Creativity/innovative thinking – 32 percent

Ethics – 30 percent

Business/financial acumen – 30 percent

Emotional intelligence – 25 percent

Global perspective – 14 percent

“Being able to frame ideas and share them with colleagues in both writing and speaking is so fundamental that these are most often a starting point in professional growth and development,” Ms. Jones added.

“Communication is actually an umbrella term for such core skills as listening, thinking clearly, interpreting organizational concepts, being alert to non-verbal signals as well as dealing with any stress or emotional issues in working with co-workers or supervisors,” she explained.

“Indeed, understood correctly communications helps a person understand a situation, resolve differences and build trust,” she said. “It’s essential for a productive workplace to encourage creativity and collaboration in order to solve problems or achieve business objectives.”

Ms. Jones contends for companies seeking to avoid a perception of elitism, an important goal is to build an environment of collaboration and team work.

(Note: I’m a former member of the American Management Association, a global leader of comprehensive talent development. AMA Enterprise, a specialized division of AMA dedicated to building corporate and government training solutions, transforms enterprise-wide talent to fuel a culture of innovation, high performance, and optimal business results.)

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related communication tips:

10 Management Attributes for Effective Communication – Communication skills are critical for managers. People with enhanced abilities in communication typically have successful relationships at work and home. Good communicators typically have 10 attributes.

Make More Friends at the Office with 6 Etiquette Tips – In many companies, good etiquette is nonexistent and office co-workers fail to make friends of one another. Lack of trust and turmoil is seemingly evident everywhere. You don’t have to like everyone, but it’s best to be respectful, and assertive versus aggressive. That makes for good office relationships.

Acting, Speaking Coach: How to Improve Communication with Others – Do you know when you marginalize others? If you’re having communication problems with someone important in your career or life, chances are one or both of you will profit from tips in honest communication. This is also true if you want to get a job. Savvy employers know poor communication skills hamper efficiency and productivity.

Communication – You Can Train Yourself to Stop Stressing – It’s OK to be nervous before giving a speech or when you’re entering an important round of negotiations. Feeling pressure is one thing but allowing it to morph into stress and tension is another. When you allow this to happen, in a sense, you’re giving away your personal power, which inhibits your performance.

Workplace Communication – Is the ‘Queen Bee Syndrome’ a Myth or Reality? – Regrettably, women’s same-sex conflicts in the workplace have long been maligned in books as inherently more problematic than men’s. Hence, the negative stereotypes – the “queen bee syndrome” or worse, “cat fights.”

A Top Marketing Goal: Enhance Your Internal Communication – Businesses have two communication sources that are expenses that conversely are sources of profit – the external marketplace – and internal, their human capital. But all your money poured into marketing doesn’t accomplish much unless you devote equal resources to employee programs and communication.

The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.”

-Peter Drucker


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.