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From a business communications perspective, few buzzwords get me more fired up than hearing someone refer to effective communication as a “soft skill.” Don’t get me wrong; I’m not angry, and you won’t find me tossing chairs like the late Bobby Knight. But my ears perk up each time I hear this term, and I’m committed to gently correcting whoever said it. Why, you ask? Well, I  believe describing communication as a soft skill undersells its value and overall impact. 

Fact: Our ability to communicate is the driving force behind our nation’s ongoing shift to a knowledge-based economy. As our thirst for knowledge grows, effective communication becomes essential for disseminating various ideas and concepts. And unlike true “soft skills” (confidence, creativity, reliability, etc.), effective communication skills don’t take a back seat to anything. 

Communication drives everything we can accomplish and sets the stage for everything to come. 

In fact, I’d argue that the two biggest factors that can make or break your career are interpersonal and communication skills. If you master both, your career will take off on the trajectory you always hoped for, and you’ll be destined for success. 

If you don’t take them seriously, you could plateau, take a step back in your career, and possibly lose your job.

I think that for the most part — even with some people’s insistence on referring to effective communication as a “soft skill” — the overall consensus is that people recognize its importance and crave feedback on how to be better at it. But how do we measure the impact of better communication? What are the bad things that can happen? What are the good things that can come from better communication?

Measuring the Impact of Better Communication

Whether you are an organizational leader or an employee working your way up the corporate ladder, business success depends on how effectively we craft and deliver the right message in the right manner and align it with the right audience. Effective communication conveys direction and fosters collaboration. It also boosts employee morale, engagement, productivity, and satisfaction. Simply put, communication drives better results — for the organization and its employees.

Here are a few additional ways this can be easily measured:

  1. You’re winning the battle for talent — There is an ongoing push to attract top talent in the workplace. A large piece of solving that puzzle rests on how effective your communication practices are within the organization and how potential talent views the interviewing, hiring, and onboarding process. If you find it easy to get the best people in the door, you’re likely complete and timely with how you disseminate information, and everyone is on the same page.
  2. There’s less turnover in your organization — Just as much as you want to attract top talent, you also want to retain them long-term. Employees expect and deserve communication in the day-to-day aspects of their jobs. If you’re measuring up in this area, employees are likelier to love their jobs, positive surveys will flood your inbox, and employees will look for opportunities to grow internally.
  3. Employee engagement is high — Very few people fully engage in their organizations. A big reason why for those companies is likely a lack of ongoing communication from the top down. I call these communication black holes, and they are everywhere. How well you move the disengaged and somewhat engaged employee to highly engaged depends on communication. 
  4. Transformational change is less challenging— The pace of transformational change has picked up in recent years as businesses have had to adapt to a pandemic, an increase in competition, etc. It’s a difficult spot for anyone to be in. That said, Professor Emeritus John Kotter with Harvard has said that most transformational change efforts fail in large part because of poor communication from leaders. They fail to share information and encourage a sense of urgency, and they fail to enlist employees in that vision and change process. How quickly you diagnose this issue and address it will go a long way toward measuring the impact of better communication.
  5. Employees understand what’s expected of them — To piggyback on the previous measurement stick, you likely have better communication skills if there is a cascading flow and sponsorship of change throughout the organization. That means that even employees who are two or three rungs down on the chain of command understand the goals you’re trying to achieve and are willing to translate that information to those who might not understand. Having agents of change at every level of your organization is a powerful measuring tool for how well you are communicating.

The Business World Demands More Effective Communication

As we’ve said before in these articles, personal and organizational success are directly related to communication practices. This is where tools such as TalkMeUp can help. TalkMeUp is innovative, one-of-a-kind software that profoundly addresses communication shortcomings by leveraging AI for instant measurement, analysis, reporting, tracking, scaling, and more. TalkMeUp gives you the feedback you need to communicate better — all in real-time. As you practice more with TalkMeUp and do things differently, this practice becomes who you are. To me, that’s the best feature. You can practice with TalkMeUp repeatedly and track your progress. 

As you begin to see changes in how you communicate, and TalkMeUp backs those thoughts up with accurate data, others will see you as a leader who speaks passionately and confidently in any setting.

Interested in seeing how TalkMeUp can help you improve your communication skills? Try TalkMeUp for free with no obligation.

About the Author
Ron Placone, Ph.D., is an Associate Teaching Professor of Business Management Communication and the Former Faculty Lead and Interim Executive Director for the Accelerate Leadership Center at the Tepper School of Business. Ron teaches a range of communication courses and leadership programs for Tepper students. Ron’s research interests include civility in discourse and fostering individual and team creativity. Previously at Carnegie Mellon, Ron was the Assistant Vice President for Learning & Development. Before joining Carnegie Mellon in 1999, Ron was Vice President and Director of Organizational Development and Communications for Mellon Network Services. Ron has been a consultant, leadership, and communication coach for numerous executives and corporate and not-for-profit organizations. He has consulted in health care, financial services, education, technology, and energy sectors. Ron has a Ph.D. in Rhetoric-English from Carnegie Mellon University.