I hear this one a lot, especially in my business writing or presentation workshops, where learners comment that their bosses need the class more than they do. Let’s optimistically assume most bosses know what they want to communicate and generally accept the importance of effective workplace communication. So, why are so many of them weak communicators? Here’s a summary of my thoughts, based on over 25 years experience as a workplace communication manager, consultant, trainer and executive coach:
- No Big Deal. Many executives don’t have a highly developed communication skill set because they don’t think they need one. Communication competency is rarely an important quantifiable factor in their performance objectives or requirements for advancement or success. ‘If it ain’t that important … who cares?
- They didn’t learn these skills in school. Most business schools have minimal coursework requirements in interpersonal communication, business writing or presentation skills. Even less at the graduate level. And lots of luck if those course were taught by ‘academicians’ with little relevant real world business experience.
- * Not on the ‘test’. How many organizations place written communication or presentation competencies high on the ‘gotta have’ list when interviewing candidates for managerial positions or promotions? Very few, I fear. Executives often get hired/promoted in spite of their communication competencies, rather than because of them. Unless, of course, the job is in corporate communications, marketing or some sales roles.
So, if your sad fate is to report to a very weak communicator, smile through the pain and promise yourself that when you get to be the boss, you’ll work hard to be a much better communicator.