Being an excellent communicator goes beyond the fluency or mastery of languages. The ability to make yourself understood (via writing or speech) is certainly a basic skill, however, how often does your intended audience truly grasp the meaning? Part of that is that every listener is different, has a different frame of reference for “hearing” what you are trying to communicate, and part of it is because there is no connection. How often do you communicate something and then consciously ask for feedback or spend time with the audience to observe if they have understood your intent? When you do, it creates a communications-connection. Not doing so is a like settling for one-way communication. We miss the opportunity to connect and truly understand our key stakeholders or customers, partly because we are all busy, partly because we rush our communications, and if we are honest, partly because we just want others to do what we tell them to do.
Communications with client companies as well as with candidates is critical to my business as a recruiter. My success rate depends on a combination of different factors: first and foremost, my understanding of what the company needs, what the hiring manager is looking for. Armed with the above, I can engage my extended professional network in the markets to locate relevant candidates. The third step is approaching and offering something valuable enough that potential candidates buying will spend their busy day listening to my sales pitch about the company and the opportunity, so I can create an opportunity for the company to meet the candidate. The ultimate decision comes down to the chemistry between the interviewer and interviewee, but the chances of that can be improved if I have a shared understanding of what is being asked for.
The first challenge I face is getting a common understanding or the full extent of the company requirements AND hopes for the candidate. There in the job title but in 90% of the cases, these don’t fully express the company cultural or managerial assumptions and desires that would make for an outstanding match. This almost always means the actual expectations for a successful candidate are not entirely clear so they can’t be communicated to a potential candidate.
Sometimes managers from the “old schools” think that it gives them the upper hand to control the information, or to be a little less than clear so that the interviewer can surprise the candidate with some of the key facts and keep them thinking they do not have the inside line on getting the job. Sometimes the company or hiring manger want to try to sell the candidate on the job before disclosing all that will be required because they think they can negotiate a quality candidate at a lower salary, for example. But can you imagine how this is experienced by a qualified candidate? No surprise, many of these times these first meetings don’t work out very well. The likelihood of finding a match falls dramatically if there is not open trust building communications and feedback at each level of discussion.
Prior any true communications taking place, connections between two parties are absolutely essential. I call this the communication-connection. When parties trust that both parties are seeking a positive result and can do so via open and frank dialogues, a solution will emerge. Sadly, hiring managers are too busy and that is part of why they need to make a new hire. That means they unwittingly rush the requirements part of the hiring process or rely on standard requirements, thinking they will clarify and define these as they meet candidates. The problem is the candidates they didn’t get to meet because their job description was thin, or the standard screening criteria was overly restrictive or too general.
Hiring is one of manager’s most important responsibilities and yet their managers offer little resources and time to make it a key performance objective. To be truly effective at consistently making good hiring decisions, a manager has to take time to reflect on what kind of potential they are looking for as well as what skills they need, especially these days when technology is constantly upgrading. My experience shows me that understanding all your own implicit requirements and expectation is a bit of challenging task in itself. It involves frank conversations about what you are most comfortable with managing and how that aligns with the needs of the people that are the new hire’s stakeholders and customers. Without clearing the “backlog” of “how we have always done it” thoughts, it will remain a challenge to find the best solution.
In my line of work, just like a police detective, it takes experience and skills to dig for information. I also understand that this approach of mine might not click with everyone within my community or customer base because I ask so many questions. I am very careful to avoid as many assumptions as I can but unless, I can understand on a deeper level what someone is looking for, I will miss the insight into the intangible qualities that a manager might appreciate.
One thing I am sure of, it does not matter what I am trying to say when a communications connection is non-existent, the words simply hit a dead-end which actually ends up taking more management time. Can you imagine that you are trying to sell an opportunity to your preferred candidate when there isn’t a basic level of trust and understanding already in place? Can you imagine your customer buying from you if they don’t believe you understand them and their needs?
Today, being “a better communicator” is a prerequisite in all job descriptions regardless of seniority. How exemplary are your communication skills? Do you try to convince or do you focus on a communications connection? Connecting and communicating may often be used synonymously but the truth is, while we can all communicate (mostly via verbal and visual communications); it does not necessarily mean that we are connecting successfully (that requires both intellectual and emotional connections). Perhaps it is a chance for you to become the Chief Connections Officer in your job, instead of merely a communicator?