“Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing.” Rollo May
We are communicating-for better or worse-exponentially more than ever before. Whether we communicate through text message, social media, Email or SnapChat, the ability to leverage a wide array of communication tools purposefully and effectively is increasingly more important in the workplace. The data collected from regional employers was telling: They ranked communication as one of the top 4 work skills and described it as deficient in the existing work force!
We broadly define communication as,
- the use of effective interpersonal skills during conversations and discussions to build positive relationships;
- delivering clear, concise and accurate ideas through spoken and written words using appropriate technologies and formats; and,
- listening to decipher meaning including knowledge, values, attitudes and intentions.
The link between communication and collaboration is evident. How does one collaborate if they do not possess effective communication skills? Thomas Friedman, in his book The World Is Flat, reveals the essence of a “flat” world where traditional hierarchies are replaced by global partnerships and collaboration. These global partnerships redefine the workplace and the skills necessary to succeed. Regional employers said the ability to work with others was essential and sorely lacking in today’s workforce.
So, what do we mean by collaboration? Students skilled in collaboration can,
- demonstrate the ability to work effectively and respectfully across diverse teams;
- exercise flexibility and willingness to be helpful in making necessary compromises to accomplish a goal;
- assume shared responsibility for collaborative work, and value the individual contributions made by each team member; and,
- work productively in teams for sustained periods of time to develop high quality products.
Why are communication and collaboration so important? The McKinsey Global Institute published a study finding that increasing communication and collaboration through internal and external social technology platforms could potentially add over 1 trillion dollars of value by increasing the productivity of high-skill knowledge workers. Student who can effectively communicate and collaborate will be highly valuable in the workplace of the 21st century.