How to deal with harmful energy suckers.

I’ve been having a problem with my battery lately. Not my internal human battery. The battery that powers my car. Several times over the past couple of months my car wouldn’t start and I had to jump it to get it going again (with jumper cables, not the Fosbury Flop.)

The Replacement

I decided to measure my car battery with a voltage meter. Sure enough, the voltage was way low, like Consuelo. So I replaced the battery. But two weeks later, with a brand new battery, I found the car dead again. Watt The Volt?

Spotting a Pattern

I began noticing a pattern. When the car wasn’t driven for a couple of days it would wind up dead. It was dead when we returned from a family weekend in Chicago. It was dead-dead when I got back from a 4-day business trip to Atlanta and Orlando. So it was time to take my car to the dealership to get to the bottom of the issue.

Diagnosing The Problem

When I made the phone call to set up an appointment, the service representative seemed to understand my problem better than he should have with the limited amount of information I gave him. When I brought the car in, the representative shared his diagnosis without ever looking at the car. He said:

‘I am 99.9% sure that you have a parasitic draw on your battery, caused by the Bluetooth control module. When that malfunctions it draws down the battery at an abnormally high rate while the car is off. The demand eventually drains the battery until you don’t even have enough power to unlock the doors.’ -Acura Dealership Dave

The test the technicians performed confirmed that we was right. Se we replaced the Bluetooth control module. And the problem disappeared.

Beware The Parasitic Draw!

Parasitic draws are not limited to car batteries. They can happen anywhere. In businesses, on teams, and in social groups. Malfunctioning human parasites draw down the energy of the group, depleting them of power, until they limp along severely compromised, or ruined.

Key Takeaway

Great organizations, teams and groups require energy to function properly. If anyone in the system is taking away energy, rather than contributing it, you have to remove them from the system. Do it as quickly as you diagnose it. There is no cure, other than a parasitectomy. Don’t waste your time trying to fix it. Removing the offender is the only way to return to full power and achieve your full potential. And you should never settle for anything less.

Advertisements

The first step to make your team work.

Organizations are messy. Because they are made of humans. And humans are unpredictable animals. If you work in a business that trades in creativity, like I do, you deal with even more interesting dynamics. One of the challenges of professional creativity is that it tries to combine professionalism with non-traditional thinking and behaviors.  These can make for strange bedfellows. (Why do we say bedfellows?  Why couldn’t it be umbrellafellows? Or picnicblanketfellows? Or pewfellows?)

Sometimes teamwork is magical.  Other times it is, well, not magical.

Because when humans are involved things go wrong. In fact, there are things that go wrong in organizations every day.  It is not the avoidance of mistakes that makes a company great. It is how we respond to those mistakes that determines the health and strength of the organization and its culture.

I have discovered a very simple guiding principle that helps organizations thrive, even when things go wrong. It’s The Assumption of Positive Intent. It requires that everyone on the team assumes that the actions, choices, statements and decisions of others were made with positive intentions.

It comes down to believing that your teammates are good people who mean well. Even when their intentions aren’t clearly understood.

At the advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry, the Assumption of Positive Intent is core to our culture. This simple assumption has a number of positive effects.  First, it makes us all see each other as good people. It makes me feel better to feel like I am surrounded by good people who want to do good things. High morals and ethical standards are important. We should believe in each other and support one another until we have irrefutable proof that we should not.

The next benefit of the Assumption of Positive Intent is that it encourages people to take action. Make a move, make an impact, make a difference. We’ll support you. We won’t crucify you if it doesn’t work out perfectly. Because we assume you want to make great things happen. Even if an attempt fails. So go ahead, introduce New Coke. Have Kendall Jenner hand a cop a Pepsi. Or stick your chocolate in my peanut butter.  One of those things will work.

The word assumption often has a negative connotation in business and other performance-oriented environments. Because it indicates that we make judgements or decide without knowing. We’ve all heard the saying that when you assume you makes an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me’.  While that is a clever word play, the statement fails to recognize an important reality.  When you assume positive intent, you give people the benefit of the doubt. You presume the good. You believe in the best or most optimistic scenario.  And when you believe in good, you believe in people. This builds a culture of trust.

A Simple 5-Step Formula.

When you encounter an action that you don’t understand try these 5 simple steps:

  1. Assume positive intent
  2. Talk about the issue with the person or people involved.
  3. Make it clear that you assume they meant well and seek a better understanding.
  4. Listen for understanding
  5. Play back what you heard.

I believe in people. I think we all want to be part of a great team  The best way to set our teams up for the greatest success it to minimize the stress on the relationships between teammates. If we assume positive intent at all times, we will get the best out of each other. We will enjoy the attempts. Even when they #fail.