According to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), most employers seeking MBAs and other business school graduates consider communication and teamwork skills essential for candidates. GMAC’s 2017 Corporate Recruiters Survey Report indicates that employers in the United States, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region rank these attributes even higher than technical or managerial aptitude when it comes to the skills they look for in a new hire.
Many employers also report having difficulty finding talent with the ability to grow and change with business needs, which is driving a renewed emphasis on soft skills. This element of communication and teamwork emphasizes employee engagement, getting along with all types of people, and fitting in with the workplace culture.
Communication Opens Doors
The job interview has traditionally been the first true test of one’s ability to communicate clearly, and some employers are now integrating more situational material and exercises to evaluate each candidate’s soft skills more closely before hire.
Scenario-based questions that require critical thinking, problem-solving and thoughtful responses are common for positions that involve managing people or working with the public, but employees at all levels are expected to have the following skills:
There are many good reasons that employers seek candidates who can communicate with others in a clear and professional manner. Mastery of grammar, spelling and punctuation is fundamental to making a good impression, and the ability to write well and speak persuasively is considered a significant attribute in most career fields. Presentation skills are now critical for both internal and external communications, and the ability to listen is key to every aspect of job performance.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
GMAC indicates that the need for better teamwork skills among new graduates has risen steadily since 2014, as business operations also increase in speed and global reach. Here are the most sought-after teamwork skills in new graduate hires today.
- Adaptability (up 5.3 percent)
- Cross-cultural sensitivity (up 5.6 percent)
- Respect for the opinions of others (up 6.5 percent)
- Ability to follow a leader (up 8.4 percent)
Employers expect to see these attributes in all MBA grads, but especially those aspiring to mid- and senior-level management. Leading a team requires each of these four critical skill areas, especially when it comes to translating company or agency mission and objectives to results.
Cultural competency in particular is fundamental for those who aspire to work in international finance or other areas of global business. Respect for the values and traditions of others is just as important in the American workplace, where it is key to managing and working well with a team.
People Skills Are Business Skills
The GMAC report also indicates that employers from a wide range of career fields prioritize soft skills when looking at potential job candidates. Survey respondents from various industries were asked to create a top-10 skill set for new hires from a list of 25 common attributes of MBAs and other business-school graduates, and the vast majority chose communication and teamwork-related skills over technical or managerial capabilities.
Here are the number of teamwork and communication-related skills employers ranked among their top choices by field:
- Nonprofit and government: 9 out of the top 10
- Consulting, technology, healthcare and pharmaceutical: 8 out of top 10
- Products and services, finance and accounting, energy and utilities: 6 out of the top 10
- Manufacturing: 5 out of the top 10
In the end, communication and teamwork are integrated skill sets. The ability to write, speak and listen are part of a good presentation, a great meeting with a client, or a solid team effort to complete any project. Cultural competency, valuing others’ opinions, and following leadership are part of working together to achieve common goals, whether business is local or global. MBA grads who possess these abilities are ready to excel personally and professionally, and make a significant contribution to the success of their workplace.
Learn more about Northwest Missouri State University’s online MBA programs.