These days, we live at electronic-lightning speed. Communication is done on the fly. Messages come and go. Time is scant. Things are read in a cursory manner. Many times, not all of the message is read, words are skipped over or not heard (or ignored). Worse yet is when the entire message is read but completely misinterpreted. The result in any of these cases is either protracted dialogue that many times ends in dissatisfaction for all and the one who didn't listen or misread blaming the other for being the "D" word -- difficult.
Some of the reasons for these misinterpretations and communication barriers are because of the reasons just cited -- lack of time causing oversights and incomplete responses. Sometimes the cause is poorly formed queries. No matter what the case, good executive material is that person who takes the time to hear the correct message and respond with the necessary and correct information that will achieve the desired goal.
To that end, as you're interviewing candidates, it will do you a good service to sprinkle your screening process and the interview with a few exchanges that disclose how well the candidate listens, interprets information and responds. Even more useful is to learn from the candidate and from their past work experiences how well they communicated with others.
If you already have a manager in place but the communications with that person seem to routinely or more than usually require a lot of exchanges and their messages are routinely cryptic, it's more than a good idea to work with them a bit to make certain their communication skills are as good as they can be. Sometimes just a little coaching will resolve the matter. (CAVEAT: Make sure it's the other one who's misinterpreting and giving incomplete answers and not you.)
There are some ways to accomplish this within your organization. Training or supplemental training, after the fact, is one of them. It's one thing to have your manager give a lot of information to the staff and then sit back and wait for results while barking orders and demands. It's quite another to communicate to the staff so that they understand what it is they are being asked to do and then following through.
According to Kathleen Hessert, President of Prosavvy Affiliate (a communications coaching and training consultancy), "Power isn't information, it's a person's ability to communicate that information so it will be understood and remembered." (Prosavvy Affiliate, About Us) The focus of Prosavvy (also known as Communication Concepts) is basically the public relations track of communications. However, two specialties they offer that are business mission critical neeeds, are Crisis and Leadership Communications.
Also imperative to bridging the communication barrier is team building, as well as managerial focus on leadership communication and motivation (compared with coercion and overseer. In this regard, Communication Concepts encourages learning ways to champion ideas that inspire in order to open doors of success.
Before you launch into this coaching regimen, however and as suggested at the beginning of this article, it would be in your best interests to assess your candidate's or your manager's reading and comprehension skills, their language skills, and their listening skills. This person is communicating not only with you and the rest of your staff, they are most likely also doing so with your clients and customers. To the extent that person is sending out similar cryptic messages that miss the point or do not answer the specific issues your audience has requested, your image will sag and your audience will turn to your competitor for better service.