By Corporate English Solutions

05 September 2022 - 13:17

Better communication skills

Reading time: 6 minutes

Wouldn’t it be great if you had clear guidance to help you write communication skills competencies? Wouldn’t it be great, too, if those competencies gave you quantifiable learning metrics? The ones your business stakeholders are pushing for. The wait is over. Follow this simple 4-step process to take the pain out of writing and evaluating communication skills competencies. 


We all know how tricky and time-consuming writing communication skills competencies can be. Take Sarah, for example, the L&D manager at Data Bright, a global technology company. Last week she spent hours of time she didn’t have, trying to write clear competency matrices. Deeply frustrating as she had committed to providing business managers with clear evaluation measures and ROI reports. Deeply embarrassing, too, as Sarah is a communication skills expert. But here she is, stretched to the maximum of her ability, struggling to define, make measurable and extract useable data for reporting on training ROI. 

Sound familiar? 

Sadly, the struggle doesn’t end there. 

By 2025 around 40% of skillsets will have changed according to LinkedIn. Not surprisingly, from 2020-21, the demand for communication skills increased by 17%. And now, with remote-first and hybrid working here to stay, communication skills training will continue to evolve. 

As L&D functions shift to a more facilitative role in organisational learning, it’s critical to check your teams have the necessary skills, according to the report, HR Re-imagined, by Capita. To keep afloat of this great employee upskilling, now really is the only time to upskill yourself. 

Happily, an effective and accessible solution is to hand. The British Council have designed this easy-to-follow 4-step process to help you write or refresh your competency matrices. Or evaluate those of your training vendors. 

Communication skills training never looked so measurable. 

 Ready to take the first step?

Step 1- Identify key business objectives and the communication skills that support them

We understand the pressure you and your L&D colleagues are under to bring quantifiable learning metrics from communication skills training to the C-suite. 

They approach it like technical skills, asking for ‘hard’ data to support business performance and growth. You remind them communication skills are soft. At times, it’s like you’re talking a different language.

It’s time to close this gap by bringing the two sides together. Literally. 

On the left side of your document, list the key business objectives. On the right, put down the broad communication skills which support those objectives. 

Here’s a worked example, Sarah from Data Bright came up with:

Business objective 1: Increased performance and productivity Broad communication skills (supporting objectives)

Achieved through decreased:  

  • number of requests for clarification
  • time wasted by miscommunication
  • deadlines and targets missed due to poor communication. 
  • Business writing
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Meeting skills 
  • Presentation skills 

Sarah listed other key business objectives such as improved brand image and reputation and increased employee engagement. In mapping communication skills against these business objectives, Sarah can build the business case for how essential they are. Skills such as public speaking, executive presence, EQ, email and report-writing, storytelling and conflict handling. All skills which need constant refreshing. 

The next step gets granular. 

Step 2- Break down broad competency areas

The effectiveness of your competency framework really is in the detail. 

You planned for the skills your workforce will need in the future. In your Training Needs Analysis, you used a strategic approach to evaluation and gathered information on stakeholders’ needs.

And now how to turn this data into a framework to assess skills levels during training evaluation? Simply by breaking down those broad communication skills intro micro skills. 

Ask yourself:

Specifically, what skills does an effective communicator need? 

Write down a list of micro skills next to each business objective. A further worked example from Data Bright:

Business objective 1: Increased performance and productivity Micro skills supporting objectives

 Broad communication skills

  • Business writing
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Meeting skills
  • Presentation skills 
  • Understand audience and their needs
  • Identify communication aims and objectives
  • Select relevant content
  • Structure communication coherently
  • Produce clear, concise messages
  • Use correct grammar and vocabulary
  • Take effective notes
  • Produce documents with high readability

By doing this step, Sarah was surprised at the range of communication skills, especially writing, that underpin business success

Strong writing is at the heart of the next step.

Step 3- Make competencies specific, clear, concise and measurable

The more specific, clear, concise and measurable you make the skills competencies, the easier they are to assess and use for training evaluation. 

The easier they are to assess, the easier it is for you to report the data to stakeholders. Win-win!

Follow these simple rules for impact.

  • Use specific terms.
  • Avoid jargon and technical language.
  • Use short sentences.
  • Limit to one micro skill per competency.

Read these bad and better examples with useful commentary to help you write effective communication skills competencies. 

Bad Better
  • Confidently structure documents


Confidence is subjective, open to interpretation when being assessed.

  • Structure documents logically
  • Understand the importance of clarity in business writing, avoiding jargon and technical terms and using specific words


Unconcise, takes too long to understand meaning, stakeholders will stop reading, not measurable (‘understand the importance of’), not related to using the skill and assesses more than one skill.

  • Write clearly to ensure documents are easy to understand 

Sarah noticed when she was precise with language, things became measurable.      

On to the final step.

Step 4- Include the impact of each micro skill in competencies

You’ve heard the constant C-suite call: Show us the business impact! 

Well, now it’s time to give them what they want. 

In this final step, extend your competency statement by adding the words: so that. This little linker brings the bigger picture and answers the why. It forces you to consider, and add, the business impact of each micro skill.

Here are Data Bright’s completed four steps:

Business Objective 1 Broad Communication Skill Micro skills Measurable So that...
Increased performance and productivity Business writing Structure communication coherently  Structure documents logically so messages are easy to follow and quick to read 
Produce clear, concise messages Write clearly to ensure documents are easy to understand and avoid time wasted on miscommunication

Put together like that, we hope you agree, makes writing communication skills competencies easier. 

Competencies Made Easy

No longer do you need to struggle or waste time writing vague and unhelpful competency matrices. Using these tips, you can easily define measures, enabling you to provide data to show business impact.

Sarah enjoyed this opportunity to upskill and model her effective writing skills. 

One thing we can now all agree on: L&D is a business-critical function. 

And you have the skills and tools to demonstrate that. 

Find out how we can partner with you to ensure your skills competency frameworks match your organisation’s objectives. Consultation, skills gap analysis, competency development and evaluation is at the heart of our training solutions. 

Find out more here >