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Don’t believe everything you Google

Don’t believe everything you Google

Don’t believe everything you Google: How to look beyond the Internet’s “magnetic pull” so your employees don’t replace you

*From Trends in 2020 Series*

Fake news on the Internet? Untrue stories that become facts overnight?

Such is the life of those of us working in 2017. Many of you responded in kind after last month’s article (“When the Internet has all the workplace answers”) and shared that you had experienced the Internet’s magnetic pull over employees and leaders alike. In fact, 100% said that they HAVE seen the Internet influence how their employees work with their leaders in the workplace.

100% you say? So… basically, that means that it is rare to find someone who’s ever taking the boss at face value. They are going to Google to confirm if what you said is not fake news.

Ouch. On average, nearly every employee AND leader responded that they go to the Internet weekly if not daily to get their own answers to a work problem, issues, comparison or result.

Here’s where I get scared. The “Internet” (aka, all of the millions of sites out there) gets it wrong. A lot. A study found that, even for something as serious as infant safetythe related websites had inaccurate information nearly 40% of the time.

Ouch squared. So – people are going to the Internet – almost daily – to figure out if you, as the leader, are correct – and a large part of the time, there’s a good chance information they receive is portrayed incorrectly, or is flat-out wrong? One fire chief, who must make life and death decisions daily pointed out his view that the Internet often shows a sanitized and glamorized view of his work environment as a firefighter (Chicago Fire, anyone?). The real environment is very different from the texts and blogs as they individually promote their particular belief structure and point of view.

The Internet is here to stay and the role it plays will only increase.

So…how can you lead with a foot on both sides of the aisle?

1.      Mentoring is key. “You have to be more cognizant of the different generations in the workplace. Encourage more mentoring” The more that the individual prefers the Internet environment to traditional leadership, the more you have the ability to teach them the benefits of using both at the same time.

2.      Get to the point. “It’s important to be succinct and have links/resources at hand.” Be short and sweet. Like it or not, attention spans have shortened in the last 10 years. Think about what you really need to say ahead of time- and keep it less than 5 minutes.

3.      Find out yourself. You don’t have to have all the answers – especially if it’s new to you. “If I need to give answers to a given issue that I do not immediately know the answer to, I will research it online”. Just because you’re a leader (with 1 month or 30 years) of experience, you don’t have to know everything. It’s ok to check your facts (and do it in more than one place, to confirm you’re right!)

4.      Embrace the “new normal”. The Internet, iPhone, and laptop have become disruptive technologies of the last 20 years. “Our grandparents had the same issues with radios vs. newspapers. These technologies replaced getting information from 3rd – hand news at the barbershop.” This technology will move forward, and as a leader, you have the chance to embrace it now and be part of the best practices solution to drive your organization forward.

5.      Internet = information. Employees & leaders go to the Internet for information – fact, fiction, fun or otherwise. “Understand that ‘information’ is a tool and as all tools, it can be crafted to create OR destroy. As a leader, you need to create an atmosphere where the Internet is NOT the only source of information for your organization.”

The bottom line…… Based on the amount of information available on the Internet, and the fact that most employees reference it daily to help do their work, in the next 10 years, businesses will need fewer managers overall.

Many managers, as “vehicles of information” for their organization, simply won’t be needed because they’ll be a redundant source or tool for employees to receive their guidance.

Agree? Not agree? Either way…. are you ready?

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