These days, information awaits us almost everywhere. Merely by typing a name, phrase, or word into any cell phone’s search engine, one can find out a plethora of information about that person, corporation, town, entity, etc. A couple of years ago, I had a “creepy feeling” about one of Magnus’ vendors. I typed his name into my iPhone and, lo and behold, immediately discovered he is a registered sex offender who served a prison sentence in a state penitentiary! It seems I was right to have a creepy feeling about this creep. As another example, my dear friend, Charlie, and I love today’s rock and roll music. We frequently share new songs and new bands with one another. Charlie recently asked me about a new band that is being featured on our favorite satellite radio channel (Octane, Channel 37 on Siruis/XM) and because I didn’t know the answer to his question, I typed the band’s name into my phone and soon learned everything I needed to know about this band. For many years, Magnus has proudly employed members of the Millennial generation. Our intelligent employees, like many of their generation, are accustomed to having access to information at all times. If we are discussing a topic about which we need information, our employees quickly pick up their ever present cell phone and look up the information. There is no longer any delay, no reason to guess, and no reason to be wrong; just look it up! The days of “I’ll have to get back to you on that” are becoming fewer and farther between. Information is knowledge and knowledge is powerful indeed. So, next time you are in doubt, look it up (or ask a Millennial or someone even younger to look it up for you)!
Before there were millennials, I sometimes turned to my younger brother, Stephen, and asked him questions to look up somewhere. If the subject was of interest to him, on sharks or alligators and rock & roll, for example, he’d be my information source. That was after my days with an outdated World Book Encyclopedia at home and it only lasted as long as I could keep his interest. In our business world, we emphasize to staff, “don’t answer a question to which you do not know the answer just for the sake of answering.” We’ve been told “yes,” “no,” or whatever the person thought we wanted to hear when the real answer is “I don’t know” more than a few times. Today there is no reason not to know the answer, or to be able to look for the answer somewhere. If the result is not clear, additional steps may be required, but to get to an accurate answer, there are many sources. But, then 2 additional factors have come into play when dealing with employees – getting them to fully answer the question – to get beyond the surface. For example, I recently asked that someone research the jury size in a venue. The answer was that, per the website of the Court in question, it was 6 to 12. Well, that isn’t enough information and more research is warranted. The other additional factor is ensuring that sources used for the information are reliable. While some sources may be “good enough” for things of lesser importance, finding an authoritative source is required. Especially when others are depending on an accurate answer, an incomplete answer from a questionable source can be worse than no answer at all. We can all hope that these things are taught in colleges or earlier. But, as an employer, I can attest that some people we have hired missed that day in school. These folks usually don’t last long. Better to come to me, or Melissa, with a dictionary or source material in hand to show, “to prove” what one has found, than to take a shortcut!