Above leadership, above decision-making and creativity, above even job-related skills, employers believe in training their people to communicate effectively.

That’s the learning insight that emerges from the American Management Association’s latest survey of the training and development priorities of executives and managers at some 700 organizations.

Two thirds of the respondents said they included communications skills in their employee development programs, ahead of every other kind of training. Some 60% said they sponsored training in skills specific to employees’ individual roles in the organization, while 52% did leadership development training.

Other common training topics included interpersonal skills (48%), teamwork (43%), decision-making (40%), cultural sensitivity/diversity (32%), creative thinking (32%) and ethics (30%).

The starting point
Why does everybody want to train employees in communication? You probably have your own answer(s), but the leader of AMA Enterprise, which did the survey, puts it pretty succinctly.
“Being able to frame ideas and share them with colleagues in both writing and speaking is so fundamental that these are most often a starting point in professional growth and development,” says the AMA/E director, Jennifer Jones.

In other words, a high-level ability to communicate — which Jones defines broadly as listening, thinking, interpreting organizational concepts and being alert to nonverbal signals — is a sine qua non for other kinds of employee development. You may want to ponder that point next time you review your own training and development priorities.

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