Professional development and training blog of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)
July 15, 2009

Rethinking Employee Communication: Whose Information Do Employees Value Most?

Ever figure out whose information employees really apply to get their jobs done? Yes, some information comes from HR. Yes, some comes through internal communication. Yes, some comes from the boss. And some comes through professional development and training.

But what’s really interesting is the actual value of the information employees receive, from their perspective. In other words, what they will actually extract and use on the job. Here’s my metric of the value of the information employees get, by source, to help them get their work done each day.

5% CEO
6% Upper management
7% Middle management
8% District management
30% First-line supervisory management
20% IMIU

Total: 100%

The first-line supervisor has the highest impact. This is something most of us already know. Employees are most responsive, listen to, and care most about the person to whom they directly report.

I’m sure you’re wondering what TGNTM stands for. Translation: “The Guy or Girl Next To Me.”  Face it, employees avoid reading. They look to their neighbor to be told (by someone other than their supervisor) what really matters, or to get the questions “they would rather not ask their supervisor” answered. So, employees go to someone in the next cubicle or workbench — someone who reads more than they do — to find out what they need to do or know. A lot of information comes from this source.

IMIU stands for “I Made It Up” and it can represent a fairly significant amount of decision-making information each day. The lesson is that every employee (including the CEO) makes up a portion of their work every day. This happens due to lack of training, the usual habits of the organization, the assumption by supervisors and bosses that employees should know what to do on their own, or the remote location or isolation of employees. The amount of information we make up each day can be somewhat startling.

James E. Lukaszewski, ABC, APR, Fellow PRSA, CCEP, chairman and president, The Lukaszewski Group Inc.

James E. Lukaszewski, ABC, APR, Fellow PRSA, CCEP, chairman and president, The Lukaszewski Group Inc

By James E. Lukaszewski, ABC, APR, Fellow PRSA, chairman and president, The Lukaszewski Group Inc., is one of public relations most frequently quoted and prolific authors/crisis communication management consultants. His newest book, “Why Should the Boss Listen to You? The Seven Disciplines of the Trusted Strategic Advisor” (Jossey-Bass 2008), is available through Sign up for Jim’s free Executive Action eNewsletter at

Learn how to apply this interesting knowledge and explore a unique new model of employee participation as you rethink employee communications during Jim’s 90-minute teleseminar, “Re-Engineering Employee Communication:  A Strategic Analysis and Discussion.

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