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Critically analyse the importance of effective communication skills in relation to the practice of Human Resource Management.

In a workplace increasingly swirling with change, where the people part of the equation is increasingly critical to organizational success, getting communication right could be the defining factor in gaining competitive advantage. The importance of human capital: the idea that people are increasingly the only asset that differentiates one organization from another; puts human resource management (HRM) squarely at the forefront of the rapid change toward an information based economy. People need to know what’s in it for them and HR program components hold the answers. The best designed benefits package or most elegant compensation design will fail if no one fully understands and appreciates it. Thus, no other function could benefit from effective communication skills more than human resources.

Broadly speaking, effective communication is “leader-driven and attempts to help people understand the market forces that shape the actions and strategy of the business.” (D’Aprix, 1996) This means that communication planning should incorporate how to drive employee behaviour to fulfil business outcomes, not simply the tactics and channels used to disperse information to a workforce. The result for business, and hence HRM, has been the challenge of getting the right people in the right place doing the right work in the right way. It may sound simple but is complicated by the simultaneous demographic changes challenging the working world. The population is aging with more employees wanting to stay put for longer at one end of the spectrum, while at the other end younger workers are moving more often. However, 75 percent of the jobs available are in the information, technology and service sectors, areas which traditionally skew toward younger applicants. Amid this change, HR and other managers are faced with rallying their people around a set of common goals aimed at winning in the marketplace, and building such affiliation by negotiation among various employee groups is no easy task.

Indeed, effective negotiation skills involve not only getting your message across to another person, but learning how to read what the other person is saying to you. This means not only listening to other people’s words, but also learning to interpret their body language. It also means learning to communicate without pre-empting other people or making them defensive. (Griffin, 1998) Studies on audiences’ reactions to speeches show that a speaker’s persuasive powers come from not just what is said but the way the speaker looks and sounds. Since the nonverbal cues you project are as powerful as the verbal ones, first, determine what it is you want the person you’re communicating with to do, then select an appropriate combination of words and body language to convey your message in order to communicate effectively and influence them in negotiations. The ultimate goal is to include others in the communication process without coming across as threatening, in order to minimise conflict and stress, which are both increasingly critical problems in the modern workplace (Sanchez and Dempsey, 2002)

Management style is the key to effective communication skills, and thus managers need to establish a style that makes them feel comfortable, in order to avoid stress for both themselves and their staff. For example, some managers may be comfortable getting personal with employees; while others may not and thus should not. Whatever s