Information, please: What's happening in your business organization is a vital piece of information that every employee needs to know. But in too many...

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Information, please: What’s happening in your business organization is a vital piece of information that every employee needs to know.

But in too many cases, even the tiniest bit of inside information isn’t something workers ever learn about from their managers.

In fact, “Employees are more likely to hear about changes to their workplace discussed around the water cooler than straight from their bosses,” according to a recent study of 16,000 workers at 104 U.S. companies by International Survey Research (ISR), a Chicago-based global research and consulting firm specializing in surveys.

An astonishing 63 percent of those surveyed say they “usually hear about important business matters first through rumor.”

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Despite all the management courses supervisors are supposed to take, despite the number of MBA graduates entering supervisory ranks, communication with direct reports is generally abysmally low. According to ISR, 68 percent of government employees report they learn important information from gossiping with colleagues.

And 65 percent of high-tech employees and 46 percent of financial-services workers say they get “substantial” information from informal sources, such as rumors, gossip and that popular water cooler.

“Good leaders are good communicators, and this research shows that managers in the U.S. have a lot to learn,” said Adam Zuckerman, ISR executive director.

Either that or add more water coolers.

Don’t delay: Procrastination is the thief of time, and when you keep putting off work you need to do, it can hurt not only your company but also your career.

“Procrastination can lead to disappointing customers, missing deadlines and hurting one’s reputation,” according to Diane Decker of Quality Transitions in Mount Prospect, Ill.

Writing in her newsletter, Transition Times, the workplace consultant gives advice on how to handle one of the most common reasons for delay in completing an assignment: how to get yourself to do routine or boring work you really don’t like doing.

First of all, Decker suggests, you might be able to get someone else to do parts of it, someone who likes doing that kind of work. But that’s often difficult to do. Or you could “schedule to complete the task at the beginning of the day to get it out of the way.”

If you can’t do that, “Complete the work at a time when you tend to be less productive anyway, such as before or after lunch or toward the end of the day,” the consultant suggests.

And plan to incorporate these suggestions immediately into your work schedule.

Selling yourself: “As an interviewee [for a job)], you are primarily a seller,” observes H. Anthony Medley, author of “Sweaty Palms: The Neglected Art of Being Interviewed” (Warner, $13.95).

“The product you are selling is yourself, and the assets of the product are your experience, skills and personality. You communicate your experience and skills in your résumé, but your personality comes across in the interview.”

He says, “it is your goal to arouse the interest of the interviewer in you. If you wait expectantly for questions and dutifully answer them, you have done nothing to distinguish yourself from the hundreds of others whom the interviewer will encounter.”

E-mail questions to Carol Kleiman at Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.