Why you must burst the bigwig communication bubble

Workers and bosses often inhabit different worlds, which can lead to serious dysfunction. Execs should make sure employees are informed, empowered and heard.

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Executives and bigwigs tend to spend their days rubbing elbows, rarely deigning to mix with rank-and-file workers. Without a strong effort to create channels of communication between top management and employees, information will not flow freely. That’s a recipe for confusion, conflict and misunderstandings.

Leaders often assume employees know things, such as a company’s vision, mission, strategic plans and values. How can they know unless you communicate clearly and consistently?

Toward the end of the Great Recession, we conducted research on companywide communication. First, we spoke with leaders about their plans for managing and surviving amid the economic downturn.

Without exception, leaders said they had a clear vision. When we asked whether their employees understood this vision, they all said some variation of, “Yes, absolutely, we talk about it all the time.”

Then we asked the same questions to employees at those companies. What we heard was:

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