How Communication Skills Coaches Help Employees Become Better Communicators

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Of all the ways one can improve their communication skills, working with a coach might be the most powerful. Communication skills are highly complex, involving many elements, and mastering each aspect of effective communication in the workplace is a challenge. When the wrong word or tone can create problems in the workplace, poor communication is the bane of the business world – but it can be improved. Especially with remote and hybrid teams on the rise and new channels of communication being used, it’s vital for employees to communicate clearly and effectively.

The process of strengthening communication skills requires analyzing the problem, formulating a goal, and practicing the weak parts of one’s communication skills. Becoming a master communicator won’t happen overnight, and many organizations turn to coaching as a means to improve employee communication skills.

Why Coaching?

Coaches work closely with employees, guiding them towards finding the optimal path forward. Coaching is a powerful way to target the specific areas of communication an employee is struggling with, whether they need help in email writing, speaking to upper management, or upper management speaking to individual contributors, understanding how to communicate differently in different situations, learning how to present in front of people – and the many other ways people struggle with communication.

In addition, a ‘clean coach’ will not harbor any biases regarding how they believe communication should work; instead, a coach will ask the employee what they think and direct them accordingly. A good coach is empathetic and will put themselves in their participant’s shoes to understand the employee and their communication issues. One-on-one coaching helps focus on specific outcomes, and with each session, the coach and participant will better understand each other, and the coach can offer more effective feedback.

For organizations that don’t succeed in optimizing communications, there might be trouble ahead: A survey of 400 companies with 100,000 employees each found an average loss of $62.4 million annually per company due to inadequate communication. For smaller companies of 100 employees, bad communication costs each organization an average of $420,000 per year.

On the other hand, organizations that enable productive change and communication programs are 3.5 times more likely to outperform their peers and McKinsey reports that improved communication and collaboration through social technologies could raise the productivity of workers by 20-25%.

The Advantages of Coaching for Communicating

A productive coach acts in a number of ways to reduce barriers to effective communication.

Achieving Goals

Communication coaches understand that a path to success is needed to achieve the best results. The convoluted nature of communications might prevent an employee from realizing that making incremental improvements is the only way to reach the vague goal of “better communication”. It is the cooperative role of the coach and the employee to:

  • Analyze the employee’s weaknesses
  • Set reasonable targets
  • Make sure that the employee is routinely applying the associated communications activity

To break down this potentially arduous task, coaches use a number of goal-setting models. These include GROW, SMART, and PDCA. The role of the coach is to explain the model to the employee, but let the employee fill in the blanks.

In addition, goal-setting is not an open-ended process. Goals should include defined milestones, feedback sessions, and a schedule for meeting the end point of the engagement. Coaches should also ensure that goals are periodically revised to reflect the employee’s progress and next steps.

Direct Support and Attention

A landmark study by the Association for Training and Development discovered that “having a specific accountability appointment with someone you’ve committed to” causes the probability of achieving a goal to reach 95%. Simply having a goal results in a 10% success rate, but with a coach ‘in your corner’, you are reluctant to disappoint somebody else.

Objectivity and Advice

A clean coach will engage his or her participants without bias. This is important on a macro level so that they will not have any preconceived notions as to how the employee should communicate within the organization.

This is also important on a micro level. Specialized communication coaches are experts at spotting all the ticks that accompany the individuals’ speech and understand why a certain employee hates writing up their daily report, for example.

This objectivity enables another vital coaching advantage. With a detached view of an employee’s communication challenges, the coach can provide neutral feedback and advice as they guide their charge towards more effective communication techniques and strategies.

Connecting Companies with Communications Coaches 

One of the many L&D capabilities that GrowthSpace can leverage is a worldwide network of communication coaches. Organizations in search of the best possible coaching professionals will find the perfect match for each employee, based on the coach’s expertise and background as well as the employee’s challenge and needs.

And, while they’re at it, L&D practitioners can rely on GrowthSpace to deliver customized communication programs for an entire organization. With a technology-based approach to soft skills training and top-tier experts in all types of professional development,  GrowthSpace empowers the first truly scalable system for L&D.

This article is part three of a 4-part series on the top soft skills employees need in 2022.