Are you like an encyclopedia?

You may think I am asking if you have a lot of knowledge.


I’m asking if the information you have (or delivery of information) is like an encyclopedia?

Why?  Because while encyclopedias were once the bees knees, they are now information dinosaurs.  And if you are like an encyclopedia, you could be a dinosaur, too.

Having not thought about encyclopedias for years and years, I thought about them the other day when looking for a store that had recently opened near my house.  I pulled up the trusty-dusty Google Maps, and there is was.  The store had only been open a few months, and my go-to map was already updated with the information.

And honestly, this is what I expected.  With the frequency that software, computers, and phones update, there is no reason for it not to be there.

Would I find this sort of updated information in an encyclopedia? Again, nope.

For the information that we used to have to gather, encyclopedias were the “technology” of the day.  They contained as accurate of information as they could about things that happened in the past, but were not very good for doing research about more recent events. And, the only way to “digest” the information was to read it.

So I’ll ask you again… are you like an encyclopedia?  Is your information out-of-date and do you rely on only when method to deliver it?

Before you answer, think about these few questions:

  • Do you frequently use one of these phrases – “When I was young”, or “Back in my day”?  (By the way, these phrases are not reserved for old fuddy-duddies. I recently overheard a pair of 20-somethings lamenting the fact that their late teens counterparts didn’t possess the life experience that they did.)
  • Have you changed the way you communicate information in the last year, or ever?
  • Are you having a hard time getting through to your employees?

The last question is really a bi-product of the first two.  Getting stuck in the past and refusing to alter our communication methods with the changing times and technology, you will be viewed as a dinosaur.  And unfortunately, unless you are a 6 year-old having a birthday party or paleontologist, dinosaurs just aren’t as relevant as they used to be.

And here’s the kicker… when asked what employees need and want from their supervisor in order to do their jobs, one of the most common answers is information.

And not just any ol’ information.  Timely, accurate and relevant are pretty important pieces of that puzzle.  They WANT that information to feel part of the team, and they NEED that information to do the job you’ve hired them to do!

I can’t tell you how many companies I’ve worked for where the marketing team put out a great promotion, but the operations team didn’t know anything about it, or it wasn’t communicated to the people on the front lines.  Then, when a guest shows up wanting to take advantage of that promotion, the employee looks clueless.  That look of cluelessness turns into a hassle for the guest and frustration for the employee.  We all know what that frustration can lead to… #noburnout

If only they would have had the information…

As a leader, you probably have the information (if you aren’t a dinosaur) and you likely have the ability to disseminate it to the people who really need it (again, barring the dinosaur designation).  There could be a legitimate concern of information overload, if it’s the wrong information.  I would be much more concerned with information UNDERLOAD with the right information.

And for a little information inspiration… Newman.

Thanks for reading!


About the author:  One of the first pieces of feedback Matt got on his book, The Myth of Employee Burnout was, “there is too much information”.  After rewriting it, the second bit of feedback was that there was “something missing”.  After a third crack at it, it seems to be just right. Just like that third bowl of porridge.