Identification and Instruction of Important Business Communication Skills

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Abstract

Nowadays the gap between academia and business organizations leads to a disagreement between faculty and business specialists on whether or not recent graduates have adequate communication skills. The professional environment raises a lot of concern among new graduates as the skills and knowledge of an academic subject have become insufficient for the business world. It is vital for students to achieve the ability to communicate efficiently, think critically and go beyond general assumptions, reflecting and questioning about their previous performance. Such behavior is desired by CEOs and managers and definitely it will enhance the postgraduates’ prospects of employment.

Introduction

The aim of this report is to analyse the value of business communication skills necessary for business graduates in order to boost their job prospects. By exploring this subject in greater depth, this thesis will emphasize the general communication skills and evaluate the main categories of business communication skills providing reliable evidence of how these abilities can be used in the business environment. Finally, this paper will contain eligible recommendations to undergraduate students at Westminster Business School on how they can improve their professional competences whilst they are following various academic modules.

The information was collected by using both primary and secondary sources in order to create an accurate and eligible piece of work that students can use it for their professional development. The “Identification and Instruction of Important Business Communication Skills for Graduate Business Education” Journal written by David Conrad and Robert Newberry serves as a fundamental paper for the main thoughts covered in this report subsequently developed by using various academic reports, up to date figures and statistics and well-written theoretical communication books.

General communication skills

This section will focus on what the communication process implies, identifying the most important general communication skills that each student must possess: writing, reading, listening and presentation skills. In order to understand their vital importance for the new business graduates willing to increase their career opportunities, the chart below highlights the ranking of the most required skills by the business world. Among the 20 most common skills required by employers and identified by International Data Corporation (IDC), communication skills were desired by 40 percent of all positions, especially by the highest paid ones.

[1]

The first general communication skills evaluated in this paper is reading. In order to be active, competent readers both students and graduates should pay attention to the quantity of information they cover (how many aspects) and to the amount of details they consider is necessary to assimilate. This will enhance their understanding and the ability to manage different proprieties at the same time. Furthermore, excellent writing skills will help students to clarify their thoughts and develop a well-structured approach in order to easily communicate a message. Detaining unsatisfactory qualifications, alumni will not be capable to obtain higher level paid positions.

Listening is defined by Julian Treasure the chair of the Sound Agency as a mental process of extraction the meaning of what we hear. A successful and confident graduate should perceive conscious listening as the key to understanding. Avoiding the lure to jump into a situation when the problems were not explored and stepping back by listening and analysing the unknown represent the key of successful communication. Also, gaining effective communication and presentation skills can represent an important advantage over the competition increasing students’ chances of finding a job. Employees are looking for qualified people as excellent presentation skills improve credibility with customers, clients or stakeholders.

Business communication skills

While the previous unit identified the general communication competences, this section will analyse in more details the business communication skills necessary for the new graduates. The total communication of a business nature includes “all messages, oral or written, published or broadcast, both internal and external, of strictly economic organisations” (p.344)[2]. Business communication skills are very important because of their purposive roles which help transferring the most deep and rational activities into concrete practice. A key point in valuable communication theory is the ability to strike a balance between internal (within an organisation) and external communication (outside factors that affect the organisation) which it leads to the first type of business communication skills evaluated in this report.

Organisational communications skills serve as threads loosen between the company’s micro and macro environments permitting a good correlation among workers and organisation’s behaviour. Hence, this category includes many skills such as negotiating, initiating, analysing and interpreting the information, presentation abilities or open conversations. Furthermore, each organisation behaves as a mechanism which it needs a good connection between its pieces. An efficient communication can improve companies’ performance as people can share information, learn from each other and tackle problems from different angles especially when they do not have access to specific data or equipment.

Research has shown the synergy between effective communications and well-structured teams as one the key-note aspect which increase financial performances within organisations. The company outcomes do not derive from the work of two employees, but it reaches its goals by developing interactive communication among its staff. The micro-processes developed at the group level have a strong correlation with the organisation outcomes. Studies reveal that methods such as planning, decision-making, coordinating and communicating and information sharing have a great impact on team cohesiveness which undoubtedly it nurtures corporation’s performance. As communication enables action and task coordination via group activities it represents a skill desired by employers in order to boost their company profits.

Leadership skills are vital abilities within an establishment as they combine efficiently the decision-making process and the relationships among co-workers, building a healthy background for the firm to reach its full potential. An organisation has to strike a balance between the team roles, so leadership skills can create group synergy and bonds, serving as an incentive for workers to be more enthusiastic, optimist and courageous to involve in challenging activities. On this category, the persuasive trait of communication can be included as a manager should be able to convince people about certain ideas and practices. Possessing the ability to persuade an audience implies rational arguments in order to endorse your statements and good rhetoric knowledge can also emphasize the style you present your thoughts. (Gallagher[DF1])

Margaret Thatcher is an outstanding personality who remarked and distinguished herself among the best leaders of the world, possessing extraordinary communication and governance skills. She succeeded in reaching her goals due to her amazing motivation and power to deliver her message to people deftly demonstrated along her career as a Prime Minister. One of her business trait that should serve as a holistic lesson for new graduates was to develop a coherent long-term business plan listening to people around her in order to nurture British economy.

The third category analysed in this report is interpersonal communication skills. As human beings we feel the need to empathise with other people, sharing information, common interests or simply creating a social relationship. These abilities involve emotional intelligence which it can be useful not only at a group level, but personally as we develop intrapersonal skills. Thus, these skills have the power to bring together both our social and personal states in order to efficiently perform inside of the organisation. They demonstrate self-control, respect and active listening, all of these generating a sense of belonging to the team.

Another reliable example of how communication skills can be used inside the business environment is represented by the positive impact they have on human relations. A new graduate must be in possession of excellent communication skills because he has to be capable of naturally forming good relations with his employers and co-workers. The phenomenon of “informal organisation” has been analysed inside of the business world revealing how individuals themselves represent a remarkable incentive for others motivating them to work as hard as they can. Hence, communication not only encourage mutual respect and trust among people, but it enables them to be self-aware of their strengths and weaknesses. (LAMBERTON)

Recommendations

Following up the research conducted by Jacqueline Lynch, Principal Lecturer Marketing at University of Westminster, some of the experiment’ respondents[3] asserted that the capacity to use good communication skills represents the key to encouraging new graduates to reach their full potential. Thus, one recommendation is that the conventional approach used in the academic environment by focusing on theoretical aspects and the actual process of teaching should be enhanced. It is absolutely necessary to combine communication with the ability to streamline a task through our own judgment. Hence, different modules such as rhetoric, oratory or communication skills should be followed by students in the business school curriculum.

Anthony Salcito, vice president of Worldwide Public Sector Education at Microsoft affirmed that even though soft skills are fundamental for students who pursue a job, they are still superficially evaluated in school. Fortunately, Westminster Business School offers the students a lot of academic support in order to enrich their communication skills whilst they are following different modules. Communication & Body Language Seminars, Leadership Workshops or the possibility to choose Academic English as an optional module are just some few examples of how students can use efficiently these educational tools. [4]

In conclusion, communication skills are of utmost significance for managers and they represent a great value for employers. Both the academia and business organisation are responsible to identify and analyse the problems encountered by new business graduates when they are being required to possess excellent communication skills. The gap and deficiencies between these two establishments must be reduced by introducing specific modules who examine soft skills in greater depth. The teaching process should not only contain a theoretical approach, but it should nurture innovative opportunities for students to imply their notions in real life.


[1] IDC Study: Top Skills Comparison - High-Growth/High-Wage Positions Versus All Occupations (* Indicates Communication, Integration, or Presentation skill; Source: IDC, based on Wanted Analytics and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Data, October 2013) - https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/news/press/2013/oct13/10-15skillspr.aspx

[2] A Theory of Business Communication

[3] The study was led in “three large companies, one medium sized company, one smaller market research agency and a market research recruitment consultancy. The data was collected using eleven semi-structured depth interviews with key informants (e.g. Human Resource managers/directors and Head of Departments) as it was assumed that they would have critical knowledge and comprehension of the key issues and understand the needs of other departments in the company where graduates would be employed.” (Lynch, 2007, p4)

[4] http://blog.westminster.ac.uk/careers


[DF1]Margret Thatcher

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