How Do Your Employees Find Answers? If They Trust Google More Than Their Coworkers, You Have a Problem.

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Meet John. He recently started at your company.

He’s excited to work at a large organization with so many talented engineers, marketers and designers. But when assigned a project to design a new feature in his second month on the job, he realizes that he needs to talk to someone who understands the new-to-him coding language. He has no idea who to ask for help, so he starts Googling to find the answer.

No big deal, right?

That’s where you’re wrong.

The Problem with Google

In theory, there’s nothing wrong with turning to Google for answers. In fact, Googling something is almost always OK in your personal life, unless you’re trying to cheat at trivia.

But in the workplace, Google is rarely the best source. While it’s certainly an easy way to find information, the results are never specific to your organizational context. Whether it’s industry, culture, size, or any other number of factors, no two companies are the same. The only people who can answer your questions with your unique context in mind are your colleagues.

Let’s take John, for example. If he doesn’t understand something about organizational protocol, or why the design team has made specific decisions in the past, Google isn’t going to be his best friend. Google isn’t going to give him the context he needs to solve problems at your organization.

The real issue, though, is the reason John turns to Google to begin with. It’s not just that he needs help understanding a topic — it’s that he doesn’t know who to ask.

Tapping into the Brain Trust

Anytime someone turns to Google for a workplace issue, they’re ignoring a resource many times more powerful: the people they work with.

Organizational success is built on a few factors: investment, product quality, market share. But at the bottom of the pyramid, supporting all of these, is your people. They have vast stores of knowledge waiting to be accessed.

Most importantly, your people can share that valuable context. Sure, Google can give you best practices, but what worked for a company with amazing brand awareness probably won’t work for a similar size organization that most people have never heard of.

Online platforms can allow you to learn what your best friend from fourth grade is up to or to meet the love of your life just by swiping right.

Getting an answer for a work problem should be that easy, and certainly easier within a large organization that has more brains to tap into.

And on a practical note? “Time is money” is a cliche because it’s true. Every second someone spends scouring search results for the answer to a question — instead of seeking out better answers from their coworkers — is a second wasted for a business. It’s lost money.

Honey, I Shrank My Organization!

Large organizations can feel like behemoths. Sometimes it’s difficult to have the necessary communication, even within your own department.

That’s why the world’s most agile, innovative, and successful companies are creating environments that are as human and connected as any on the planet. Basically, they feel small.

For those of you old enough (or who had parents with good taste), think what happened in Wayne Szalinski’s lab in “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.”

So often we think of technology as distancing. We see studies that say social media makes us lonely.

But you can bring your organization closer together, just by empowering all of your people to quickly find the colleagues who can help them. This applies whether they’re building amazing project teams or just getting their coding questions answered.

Whichever the case, Google just doesn’t cut it.