Insights

Succeeding Through Effective Communication

12 Mar 2018
Succeeding Through Effective Communication

These days, success is all about measurability—the only way to know if something is successful is if there is quantifiable data that shows that it is. There are, however, success factors that are not as readily measured, which pose quite a challenge to businesses and to the institutions who prepare individuals to engage in business.

When it comes to getting ready for a successful career in any industry, the characteristics or abilities a person needs may be classified as either “hard” or “soft” skills, the former being measurable and the latter, less so.

Communication is one of the so-called soft skills that can literally make or break a person’s career. The ability to express oneself, as well as to present information, ideas and results is crucial to how well that person does in the workplace. How well you communicate has a direct impact on the way you relate to the people you work with, and the way you take advantage of business opportunities.

This is why employers value communication skills just as much, if not more, than “hard” or “technical” skills such as proficiency in certain technology, for instance, or in operating certain kinds of equipment. Because no matter how good a programmer you are or how well-versed in industrial knowledge, you won’t get very far if you are unable to communicate with your colleagues or to get along with them.

The importance of being a good communicator especially holds true for business leaders.

Academic management programmes have identified communication as a business leadership skill that needs to be developed to help executives cope with evolving business models. Indeed, Forbes contributor and N2Growth chairman, Mike Myatt says it is simply impossible to become a great leader without being a great communicator.

To be able to convince a team to work together toward a common goal and to inspire them to do their best is essential to boosting organisational performance, and this can only be done through effective communication. Richard Branson and Bill Gates have been cited as business leaders who are highly effective communicators.

Such leaders are able to connect with others individually and as a group, and convince their listeners of their sincerity and the soundness of their ideas. In so doing, they spur their listeners, be they members of their own staff, business partners or customers, into positive, productive action.

An executive’s great communication skills can raise a company’s profile and make everyone who does business with it proud to do so. These skills likewise facilitate negotiations, conflict resolution and the management of public crises. Business leaders hone these skills as they continue to promote transparency, encourage discussions, and to make themselves accessible to everyone at every level.

The more executives communicate with everyone involved in every aspect of the business, the more they are able to build relationships, broaden their networks and earn trust and respect. Regular, open and honest communication can also help good business leaders to identify areas for improvement and innovation, and to create opportunities for moving the organisation forward.

This is why the emphasis on communication in business has increasingly come to the fore.

Communication and interpersonal skills are the most sought after, for instance, in Singapore’s ICT sector, where programming skills and the like might have been considered more valuable. IT industries in general have also pointed out the need for communication skills particularly when it comes to improving the user experience and educating non-technical users in the use of digital technology.

Being an effective communicator extends to written communication as well, as more employers become aware of the damage poor writing can wreak on brand image and business-to-business relations.

The value of strong communication skills is also inestimable in international business, where MNCs have expressed their inclination towards hiring candidates who can communicate and collaborate across cultures. Those who know how to listen and empathise with others, and are sensitive to and appreciative of cultural differences are the most likely to succeed.

When it comes to intra-company relations, businesses prefer those with the propensity to adapt to their corporate culture, which involves being able to relate to co-workers as well as to customers. To this end, many companies invest in staff training to develop communication and other soft skills for their staff, and include it in employee career planning.

The pressing need for better communication and soft skills training is now in the spotlight.

A report published by SMU and JP Morgan points to a deficiency in teaching communication and other  soft skills required by businesses across industries, as government efforts tend to focus largely on developing technical competency. Apart from ICT, Singaporean industries experiencing a shortage in these skills include finance, insurance and electronics and electrical manufacturing.

Universities and educational institutions have recently come under scrutiny for their capacity to prepare members of the future workforce and to bring the skills of current workers up to speed. The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs report has identified this challenge as one of aligning education with real-world requirements.

To help meet this challenge, SMU Academy provides a series of credit-bearing courses leading to a Graduate Certificate in Communication Management as well as a Masters in Communication Management.

The series enhances participants’ ability to communicate using the right approach to the right audience, particularly in the fields of public relations, marketing, advertising, corporate communications and communications management.

Modules in the series include Brand Storytelling and Data Analytics and Visualisation, as well as Social Media and Search Engine Marketing. Associate Professor for Corporate Communication and Academic Director for Communication Management, Dr Mark Chong; Assistant Professor of Corporate Communication, Dr Sunjong Roh, and Adjunct Lecturer, Mr Adrian Chye are the course instructors.

Email academy@smu.edu.sg or call 6828 9688 for information on how you can register for the Academy’s credit-bearing courses, and pave the way towards a successful career with stronger communication skills, today.