As a software architect and leader of the evolution of my area of expertise, communication skills are extremely important, probably as important as the technical knowledge. The technical decisions my team makes and the changes we suggest need to be properly explained and contextualised so that everybody can fully understand why, how and what we want to evolve. It is then key for me to understand if my communication skills are effective and when there is the need to improve them. In order to evaluate my ability to communicate I need to always be aware and open to listen to many types of feedback that I receive on a daily basis.
The most common examples are the presentations: in my role it is very common to introduce new concepts, techniques or tools with a presentation. In these situations, it is important to use a precise vocabulary, be able to explain complex concepts in a precise and concise manner. A key part of any presentation is related to the questions it may raise. While it is true that an exhaustive report should not leave grey areas to be explored, at the same time, an effective presentation manages to channel the questions on the most interesting topics and open a debate. This is the moment where I can evaluate my communication skills. If there are no questions or no comments after a presentation most likely the communication was not effective, and I have to invest some time to understand how to improve it.
Another precious moment to collect feedback is the 1:1 meeting I have every quarter with my manager. In this meeting together we reviewed my previous quarter and set the goal for the upcoming one. During the review I have the opportunity to get an honest evaluation of my ability to do assigned tasks including the ones that require good communication skills. To fully benefit from this event, I have to be ready to listen actively, write down suggestions and allocate some time after it to process and review the received information.
Another of the recurring tasks I am asked to perform is mentoring. Nowadays this is a consolidated practice whose great effectiveness is recognized for the transfer of knowledge and working methods, but also of company values, and therefore to better promote the integration of junior figures into the corporate culture. Mentoring is based on the emotional and empathic involvement of the actors. When effectively executed a synergy or a relationship of trust is established. It can be easily measured after the sessions by noticing the interaction I have with the mentee (person trained or counselled by a mentor) and how quickly he develops the skills required to perform his job.