This might seem like a strange blog post coming from a Communications professional. Afterall, one of the many benefits of a degree in Communications was the lack of finance and math it required. Nevertheless, in a recent interview with Yahoo Finance editor-in-chief Andy Serwer, Buffett made a very important financial recommendation that caught my attention in a BIG WAY:
“By far the best investment you can make is in yourself, investing in developing your communication skills — both in writing and in-person — can increase your value by at least fifty percent.”
This advice was music to my ears! Let’s face it, communication is at the heart of everything we do and it takes up more working hours than any other activity, so mastering the skill is both critical to individual and organizational development. Whether it be an important phone call, a job interview, a team meeting, or a difficult conversation, there are some fundamental communication strategies and skills that are essential for all individuals and leaders to understand, and those strategies work in ANY given situation. Strategies like understanding your overall communication goal and the audience you are speaking to. Having the ability to deliver your message in a clear, concise and focused manner. Being able to understand how to warm the room so your audience is open and ready to hear your message. Understanding how to transition between the key points of your message and, most importantly strategies to arrive at the ultimate goal of that particular communication experience.
Unlike other skills that organizations may choose to invest in, communication is a skill we can truly measure and tie to overall organizational performance. Peter Drucker once famously said, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” Thanks to research, such as the following from Towers Watson, we can indeed measure the ROI on communication skills:
- Businesses with highly effective communicators have a 47 percent higher total return to shareholders compared to companies with the least effective communicators
- Businesses with strong communication practices are 3.5 times more likely to significantly outperform industry peers than businesses with less effective practices.
In addition, a recent article posted in SHRM magazine, David Grossman reported in “The Cost of Poor Communications” that a survey of 400 companies with 100,000 employees each cited an average loss per company of $62.4 million per year because of inadequate communication. And, what about sales? It doesn’t matter how incredible your product or service is, in the end, it is only as good as your sales teams’ ability to communicate it. Customer relationships are built on trust and that trust starts with the foundation of effective communication.
There is simply no question that developing communication skills will yield positive results for individuals and employers alike.