Assessment of communication skills in manager selection some evidence from Australia

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Assessment of communicationskills in manager selection: someevidence from AustraliaMary Bambacas and Margaret PatricksonInternational Graduate School of Business, University of South Australia,Adelaide, AustraliaAbstractPurpose– The purpose of this paper is to ascertain to what extent organisations specifically usecommunication skills as a key criterion in their selection and subsequent development of managerialstaff.Design/methodology/approach– The paper presents empirical findings from semi-structuredqualitative interviews conducted with senior HR managers in large to medium sized organisations inSouthern Australia.Findings– This study suggests that HR practitioners regard communication skills as subsumedunder a generic idea of leadership. There were no specific programs reported that explicitly targetedcommunication skills.Practicalimplications– Thefindingscontributetoknowledgeconcerningthenatureofcommunication skills for managerial staff such as, interpersonal, verbal, written and listeningskills. Further, time needs to be allocated to the audit of training in the development of communicationskills so that HR professionals are clear on the action that needs to be taken.Originality/value– The paper will be of value to researchers, HR practitioners and consultants inthe management development field. The paper’s main finding is that despite repeated claims thatcommunication skills are important for successful managerial performance, HR managers only assessthese informally during managerial selection and rarely target these skills in training staff formanagerial positions. It is recommended that HR staff need to review these practices towards a moretargeted communication skills appraisal that would measure the extent to which these skills arealready apparent at selection and develop further following additional training.KeywordsCommunication skills, Human resource management, Management skills,Management developpment, AustraliaPaper typeConceptual paperIntroductionAs articulated by Hattersley and McJannet (2005, p. 3) “the best idea in the world canfail if it’s not communicated effectively”. Communication skills are important tomanagers in the roles they execute. Mintzberg’s (1973) interpersonal, informational anddecisional roles are a good example. However, even though managerial tasks may havechanged the challenge with advances in technology, workforce diversity, globalisationand the emphasis of working in teams accentuates managers’ need to communicateeffectively (Linsteadet al., 2004).Research considering the effectiveness of communication between management andemployees (Hunt and Baruch, 2003) and its impact on commitment (Brunetto andFarr-Wharton,2004)suggeststhatitisthewaytheseHRMpracticesareThe current issue and full text archive of this journal is available atAssessment ofcommunicationskills109Received 15 November 2006Revised 15 July 2007Accepted 22 October 2007

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