IABC CHICAGO 2002: Corporate leaders stress value of employeecomms

CHICAGO: Hewlett-Packard has found a direct link between employee performance and effective manager communication.

CHICAGO: Hewlett-Packard has found a direct link between employee performance and effective manager communication.

The better direct managers communicate with employees, the higher employees rated in internal performance reviews, said Brad Whitworth, manager of external communications for HP's computing systems group.

The most satisfied corporate employees also rate their manager's communication effectiveness the highest, he found.

As a result of his research, completed in March, Whitworth said corporate internal communications people must do better at preparing managers throughout a company to carry out their internal communications role.

"We really haven't told the immediate managers that part of their job is information, Whitworth told a session of the annual IABC international conference on June 9.

Too often, internal communications staffers think simply giving company managers prepared presentations answers their communications needs, but workers want more than a pre-packaged talk from their bosses.

"We're almost doing a disservice sometimes by handing someone a complete package in a box, Whitworth said.

Internal communications pros must better equip managers with communication skills, he added.

HP found that staffers turn to immediate managers for a wide variety of company information. In an internal HP survey, immediate managers ranked second to the company's employee portal as a source of information.

Employees also look to the mass media and stock analysts for information about their companies, blurring the distinction between internal and external audiences, Whitworth said.

"We're playing more in a fishbowl where it's all center stage, he explained.

"We need to work more holistically than ever before, because that's how employees are getting information."

HP has begun coordinating presentations by various managers to analysts so the company can present a consistent message, Whitworth pointed out.

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