It’s astounding how often it happens.
You’re in a conversation with a sales person, service representative, or an associate of an organization and you ask a question or make a passing comment about something that’s happened within their company — something interesting that made the headlines or the evening news — and they look at you as confused as a Kardashian at a garage sale.
Yes, the communication within the company is so badly fractured that employees are the last to find out what’s happening within their own organization.
In today’s workplace, employee ignorance is anything but bliss. Keeping employees in the dark is actually a sure-fire way to disengage your people and create an atmosphere of doubt and mistrust.
There are three specific types of information that are controlled by management and that have to potential to flow through to employees at any level: What employees need to know, what employees should know, and what employees want to know.
1. What employees need to know
Employees must have some information in order to do their jobs effectively (e.g., job training, safety precautions, mandated company rules and policies, and minimum performance expectations).
In many cases, employers are legally bound to disclose this information, but even when they’re not it would be extremely foolish for management to withhold from employees anything that fits in this category.
2. What employees should know
Employees should have a basic working knowledge of the company that employs them. This knowledge includes the company’s history, ownership structure, management hierarchy, basic product/service lines, and major competitors, as well as the company’s mission, goals, core values, and competitive advantages in the marketplace.
In addition, employees should know anything that Wall Street knows about the company, as well as anything that is being reported about the company by the media.
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Most importantly, this information should be made available to employees before it is released to the general public.
3. What employees want to know
In the employee version of a utopian universe, employees would be privy to everything their CEO knows about their company.
Naturally, this is not possible — or even plausible. Nor would it be wise for any company to share all of its information with every employee.
But suffice it to say, engaged employees know what’s really happening, not only within their industry, but also regarding all of the developments, changes, and updates that are taking place within their company — especially those that can have any impact at all on their jobs and their future.
This was excerpted from Eric Chester’s new book, On Fire at Work: How Great Companies Ignite Passion in Their People Without Burning Them Out, available Oct. 20, 2015.