Dinesh Divekar
Business Mentor, Consultant And Trainer
Sridharan Mahadevan
Senior Director - Manthras Consultants
Soft Skill Trainer / Hr Consultant - India
Fund Manager
+4 Others

Hi All,
I am working as a Sr. HR of a service based company. In our organisation all are employees are either Btech. or MCA but the major issue we face is their communication problem in English. Most of the time they are suppose to deal with the customer but due to the lack of communication skills (in Listening/understanding/writing/speaking) they won't be able to express what they really want to deliver.
I need a help of Seniors on an urgent basis and want to know a step by step process so that I will be able to help our employees to improve their communication skills in "English".
16th September 2014 From India, Delhi
I suggest a one day basic communication training program to be followed up by two days advanced communication training program after 1st and 2nd months. If you are interested, please advise your contact number, to enable us to follow up with you.
16th September 2014 From India, Mumbai
Thanks Sridharan, But the management want it to be absolutely internal. So, I need the step by step process which I can apply over the employees and help them to improve their english.
16th September 2014 From India, Delhi
Hi Akansha
This is a very relevant concern for any service industry. However there can not be any quick fix solution- you need to have a fair idea of the employees current level of proficiency, conduct training sessions with enough role plays and practice sessions, have scripts for professional interfaces with the customers which need to be shared with the employees etc ...and above all... the employees need to feel enthusiastic and motivated about learning to change . For that there needs to be ample information sharing / training on organizational vision/ mission and how the employees play an important role in shaping the same.
Please feel free to discuss further.

16th September 2014 From India, New Delhi
Dear Akansha,

I have little different take. If communication in English was so important then why tests on English were not conducted at the time of recruitment? Why Group Discussion (GD) round was not conducted while selecting these job candidates? Who is responsible for this inappropriate selection?

Secondly, if all these employees are Engineering graduates, then they are associated with English since their Class I or in simple words for more than 17-18 years. What they did not learn in those many years will they learn now or will you able to teach them now? There is no evidence to prove that by teaching someone, one has acquired mastery over English. It is quite long drawn process and that too one should have inner urge for it and it cannot be thrust because of organisational requirement.

If customer satisfaction depends on the knowledge of English then is customer satisfaction impacting because of their poor command over English and if yes, then what is the cost of customer dissatisfaction?

Employees are the brand ambassadors of the company. Do these newly recruited staffs project wrong image of the company amongst the customers? If yes, then what is the cost of poor brand image?

By the way, has anyone given feedback to these employees on improvement of their English? Why not to give them target and tell them to improve their English at least now? Are they not responsible for their personal development? Is it that they will develop only if their organisation develops them?

My questions may appear very down to earth but I request you to ponder over these questions.


Dinesh Divekar
16th September 2014 From India, Bangalore
I absolutely agree with Divekar, Why was The Language issue not taken into consideration in the first place? If communication in English was so important then why tests on English were not conducted at the time of recruitment? Why Group Discussion (GD) round was not conducted while selecting these job candidates? Who is responsible for this fiasco?
The intervention is likely to be a long drawn out process and for improvement to be reflected, the training should be linked to their performance metrics KRA's
Unless they realise the management is serious they are likely to take it lightly. You would only wind up wasting time, energy, effort and resource.
17th September 2014 From India, New Delhi
See, learning English cannot be pushed down the throat once the students become employees. It cannot just happen. English learning, per se, should start from a tender age. At the age of 20s and 30s, we start thinking in our mother tongue and try to respond in English, which will be a total fiasco. If at all an employee wants to learn English, out of his own volition, then he can stand on his head and learn it. Whatever efforts you take, at this point of time, it will just be an exercise in futility.

I started reading English stories from the age of 10, which my father encouraged. Once a student becomes an employee, with other work pressure and commitments, he or she may not be able to focus his or her mind. Learning English is a different take.

I did a Diploma in Russian language, while I was in Central Govt in Delhi, in early 70s, because I had the urge to learn that language to change my career to become a translator or interpreter, as opportunities were limited then.

As my learned professionals opined above, at the time of recruitment itself, your company should have focussed on students or candidates from metro cities and elite colleges. Now it is too late, I feel !
17th September 2014 From India
Dear Mr. Divekar,
If you have employees without english communication skills who have joined much before you take up the role of HR , you have no one to blame ...In these cases all you can do is try and train them to communicate in a better way and keep working on upgrading their skills.
18th September 2014 From India, Mumbai

It is not a question of blame. In my earlier post I never blamed anyone. My focus was on loss of business due to poor recruitment. If you feel that these staffs are worth retaining you are free to do so. Nevertheless, what are the cost implications of their retention? Please calculate cost of customer dissatisfaction and cost of loss of brand image. Add up to this one more cost i.e. cost of training. Find out what benefits you would accrue and when you would accrue. Do the Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA). Take decision based on the benefits.

Secondly, would you mind to give me example this formula of English training that has worked anywhere? Did the training improve customer satisfaction? Has it improved the brand image that took beating because of the low-quality manpower?

For every person there is a job and for every job there is a person goes the adage. Unfortunately management thinkers do not understand this simple rule of life. There are asses in this world and so are horses. Both animals are important their own way. However, one makes ass of himself or herself if he or she hires asses and and thinks by training it can be converted them into horses. Let us not utilise enterprise's precious resources that defy the basic law of nature!


Dinesh Divekar
18th September 2014 From India, Bangalore
Dear Mr.Divekar,
I did not say that you have blamed anyone! I think you misunderstood.
When you commented on hiring mistakes ( without english test/GD etc), i just wanted to point out that if we have people who have been recruited before our time, you cant blame anyone for the hiring mistakes but still we have these set of employees for whom knowing verbal & written english is very important to carry out their functions effectively. So although it is tough the only alternative left is train them in better communication skills. The fact is that horses are required and so are the asses. You cannot deny their importance. So if management does decide to spend money on upgrading their skills to some extent and make them into better performers whats the harm is trying? If they improve by some percentage , its a huge step forward!
Hope you appreciate the point of view
18th September 2014 From India, Mumbai
Dear Vineeta,
I feel that we should stop debating on Akansha's post. Lot of members have given their views since she uploaded her post. However, thereafter she is cool and comfortable. We have given our opinions/view. Possibly these could contradict completely. It is Akansha's problem and let her solve the way deems fit. Nevertheless, her post has brought out two important points. One is the cost of poor recruitment and another is cost of training when training efforts are directed for unproductive purposes.
Dinesh Divekar
18th September 2014 From India, Bangalore
I think if an employee is efficient in his or her work we shouldn't curse them for their communication skills
we should praise them for their work and courage them or should provide them a platform in which they can improve their skills.
And definitely they will improve it along with time u.c !
18th September 2014 From India, New Delhi
Dear Babita, What if part of the Job Role calls for intense communication in English through various means such as E-mail, Formal Snail Mail, Spoken ?
18th September 2014 From India
There Is No Such Thing As Communication Skill

Just as we cannot objectively measure greatness of love, we cannot objectively measure effectiveness of communication either. Nobody can be a great lover to everyone, and nobody can be a great communicator to everyone. On a résumé or a help wanted ad, it is useless to list “communication skills”. Everyone is a good communicator to the people they surround themselves with. Nobody thinks they lack “communication skills”. In fact, if someone claims he has “great communication skills”, it is a pretty good sign that he has a poor understanding of what communication is. If you need someone to manage communication, you should look for someone who understands the fundamentally nebulous nature of communication, not someone who thinks he knows what he is doing. (This is true for user-experience designers too.)

Most of us learned to communicate intuitively, just as we learned to walk intuitively. If asked to explain how we do what we do, we have a hard time articulating it. Most people have no theoretical understanding of how we communicate. It’s very much like songwriting. You don’t need to study music theories to write great songs. Some of the best songwriters never studied theories. But there are certain things in life that we cannot achieve without theories, like writing a symphony. Theories allow us to expand our possibilities beyond our own intuitions and talents.

Theory is a method of generalization. Without a theory, we can apply our knowledge or skills only to specific things. A particular skill may work for a particular task very well, but it may not work for a different task, and you wouldn’t know why it doesn’t work, because you don’t know why it worked for the original task. For you to be able to apply that skill for other tasks, you would need to understand the general principle of your skill, why and how it is working for the original task. To go beyond the specific application of your skill, it is not enough to master the skill; you need to step outside of yourself and analyze how you are doing what you are doing. Self-proclaimed “great communicators” haven’t realized the need to do this, and the mastery of communication within their own bubbles have them convinced of their own greatness.

Those who have never theoretically studied communication (i.e. who can communicate only intuitively) tend to take their own knowledge or point of view for granted, because they have no objective understanding of their own mental processes. This makes them poor instructors/teachers. When someone is trying to explain to you how to get to his house. He might say, “When you get out of the subway, walk towards the church,” overlooking the fact that the church is visible only if you exited the station in a specific way. It doesn’t occur to him to instruct you which way you need to turn after you exit the turnstile because he himself always turn the right way without thinking about it.

If you do not regularly evaluate your own mental processes, your natural tendency is to assume that the behaviors that worked well for you in the past are universally right behaviors for everyone. Say, you spoke to a girl at a bar in a certain way and were able to get her phone number. You would then assume that you discovered a right way to talk to all girls. You might even try to teach other men how to talk to girls.

Communication takes at least two to tango, and the specific combination of players determines the effective way to communicate. It is not possible to establish a standard of effectiveness for communication because everything is a variable and the possible permutations are infinite. Nobody is a master of communication to everyone, although it is possible for someone to be a master of communication to a specific type of people. Even if you are good at picking up fashion models at nightclubs, it does not necessarily mean that you could seduce a bookworm at a library. When trying to figure out the best way to communicate, you have to first evaluate who is talking and who is listening, before you begin to think about how or what to communicate.

Writing teachers often tell you to “know your audience”. This is true but it is equally important to know yourself. There are two aspects to knowing yourself: Who you think you are, and what other people think you are. They could be quite different. For instance, when you are speaking in front of an Iranian audience, whether you are another Iranian or an American would significantly influence the outcome. You may think you know yourself very well but that wouldn’t help you in this situation. You yourself might not consider your own nationality as an important aspect of yourself but the audience might not see it that way.

When I first came to the US in the 80s, the relationship between Japan and the US was contentious because of what was happening in the automotive industry at the time. My mere presence in the same room could influence the way other people talked about cars in general. This certainly complicated my communication. My association with Japan would color the way they perceived me and what I said, and it wasn’t possible to simply ignore it.

This too can fall under the same category of knowing your audience but it’s an aspect that is easy for us to overlook because when someone tells you to “know” something, your tendency is to observe that object or subject in a scientific manner where you do not take into account how the observer influences the observed.

For your communication to be effective, you need to take into account who your audience is and who they think you are, and employ a “tone” that would allow you to achieve the desired effect. By “desired effect”, I do not simply mean the smoothest way to communicate. Depending on the situation, your objective might be to annoy or anger your audience. This is an important point to keep in mind because we tend to assume that giving the audience what they want is the ultimate objective of communication in general, but this isn’t always true. Photographers sometimes treat their subjects rudely as soon as they arrive at their studios, in order to capture angry expressions. Effectiveness of communication is measured by how closely you matched your own desired effect, not by any sort of universal standard.

To be an effective communicator, you need to behave like a chameleon. In the West, behaving like a chameleon has negative connotations, but in Japan, it is expected of everyone. If you were to observe one Japanese person in Japan throughout the day, you would notice significant shifts in the way he acts. Even the language itself changes depending on whom they are talking to. Just by reading a few lines of written dialogue, you could guess whether this person was talking to someone older or younger, man or woman, at work or at home, etc.. The mutable nature of self is so deeply assumed in Japanese culture that it reflects in their language.

As this blog article concisely explains, “voice reflects the nature of the author, while tone reflects the nature of the intended audience.” This is an important distinction to keep in mind for all forms of communication, not just writing. Even in speaking, it is more effective to change your tone depending on who you are talking to. This does not necessarily mean that you are trying to pretend to be someone you are not. What should come through, despite your shifting tones, is your “voice” which still allows the audience to recognize you. But “voice” is not something you consciously craft. As your creative expressions mature over time, your voice would naturally emerge, almost unintentionally. In this sense, there is no need for you to be concerned about your own voice. It is for your audience to perceive, not for you to control or manipulate.

Most people do not need to communicate with people outside of their own worlds. If you are a scientist, you would most likely be surrounded by other scientists. If you are a banker, by other bankers. A lawyer, by other lawyers. In these situations, relying on intuition is sufficient to become successful, just as great songwriters do not need to understand general theory of music. But to pursue communication as a profession, we cannot simply rely on our own intuitions. We must study a variety of theories, such as cultural anthropology, linguistics, psychology, semiotics, sociology, etc.. And, I believe, the broader you study, the better. After all, communication is a form of translation. It is about connecting the dots. We can let the specialists fill in each dot. Our job as a professional communicator is to recognize which dots need to be connected. For that, we need to see the world holistically.

Also, we as professional communicators do not necessarily have to be good speakers, writers, or visual artists ourselves, just as great composers do not have to be good violinists, trumpeters, or percussionists. Our key competency is our theoretical understanding of communication, and our ability to generalize what we learned. But let’s not delude ourselves; communication is something we will never fully understand no matter how much we theorize. Communication is not a skill, just as love is not a skill. We can only aim to increase the probability of success through our theories; failures will always be unavoidable. It is not possible to come up with a universally right way to communicate. Every instance will have different variables and permutations of players. Every need to communicate will require a different solution. Our job is to increase the odds of success, not to pretend as though we know the right answer.
18th September 2014 From India, Ahmedabad
Kindly see the Toastmaster international web. page. Kindly prepare a toastmaster club in your Organisation. Conduct the club activities with all formalities. you will get result positively.Many of the leading Organisation is doing so. Sitansu, Bbsr.(Odisha)
19th September 2014 From India, Delhi
While posting your requirement, under a subject which is not at all relevant, you can at least mention clearly the place of posting, salary offered etc. so that you get proper response.
Best wishes
2nd October 2014 From India
Yes Dear! that's very important aspect in any company especially we are into business world of computer by which English is a primary language.. Here in our company we have this English Examination before hiring employees. We also have JIB Academy, it's an English Proficiency School we have here, it's a sister company of our Call Center Company,Six Eleven Global Services. Whoever fails to be hired at our Contact Center, he/she will be recommended to take the English Proficiency School!
2nd October 2014 From Philippines
Hello Akansha,
Any language can be mastered if we take interest & put our efforts. Simple have short sessions twice a week & give home works. Make them to write SHORT essays. Dont give long ones then they will lack the interest to do it.
Make it compulsory for employees to speak in English. Find common mistakes they make & start focusing on it & fixing it one at a time. Don't try to correct too many things at a time & dont focus too much on grammar initially. Many people have problem with tenses for eg:
After you see improvement start focusing on MTI.
Things to consider
Rate of speech
Clarity of speech
Let me know if this helps & when you see some improvement & I shall give the next tips. Practice & Encouragement will show gradual improvements. Definitely one can improve their English skills if you know how to guide them with patience & motivation.
You can reach me at or 9980 636 121 / 990 255 4115
Gautham Shashangan
4th October 2014 From India, Bangalore
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