Workers Dealing With Customers Say They’re Not Getting Enough Guidance From Management

The more we see big businesses floundering around, flopping all over themselves in the race to replace CEOs and try to figure out why customers aren’t streaming in the doors, the more we wonder how they could all be getting it so wrong. A new survey of “non-desk” workers could provide part of the answer, as those employees say they’re not getting enough information from the bigwigs in charge.

According to the survey by communications firm Tribe Inc., which looked at U.S. companies with more than 1,000 employees, 84% of respondents said they weren’t informed by management, and 75% said their bosses aren’t telling them about policy changes or goals. And that kind of communication is important, say workers, as 74% said “consistent” messages from senior management are important, according to the poll.

Why aren’t non-desk workers picking up what bosses are putting down? It could boil down to communication — 83% aren’t on their companies’ email systems, while a further 73% say they just rely on immediate supervisors to stay connected.

“Counting on people’s immediate bosses to keep them up to date sounds fine in theory, but it doesn’t work,” Elizabeth Baskin, CEO of Tribe tells Fortune. “For one thing, some supervisors are better communicators than others, so important messages can get lost in translation. There’s also a frequent problem with inconsistency in timing. Some employees get the word about big changes before others do, simply because some bosses haven’t told their people yet.”

Baskin took it upon herself to delve into the lack of communication after working with big corporations that would tell her to just talk to the people at headquarters, instead of getting in on the ground level to make changes.

“That creates a huge gap,” she observes. “To customers, front-line employees are the face of the company. You can spend millions building a brand through advertising and marketing, but a few bad customer experiences are enough to blow it — especially if they go viral.”

We’ve heard the end of that particularly story line a time or two, enough to suggest that yeah, there should be a closer connection between what say, the boss at JCPenney is trying to do and how the employee in a JCPenney store is going about his or her daily interactions with customers. Otherwise you just get a big ‘ol mess.

Note to executives: Your employees are in the dark [Fortune]