Check the Connection First

Check the Connection First 150 150 Jason Lauritsen

For the past week or so, I thought my iPod was broken.  I mainly use it at the gym, so when it wouldn’t turn on the other day when I got to the gym, I just assumed the battery needed charging.

When I got it home and plugged it into my laptop, the iPod didn’t come on as it should have to show that it was charging.  After cussing a bit, I started trouble shooting.  I first assumed that maybe there was something wrong with the USB port on my laptop.  So, I tried the other three USB ports and none of them worked. I concluded it wasn’t the USB ports that were the issue.

 I then assumed that the iPod itself was broken.  I went out and searched the help forums for any clues to what might be wrong.  No help to be found there.  I was becoming increasingly frustrated as I considered that prospects of heading off to the Apple Store to talk to a Genius (not because the experience would be bad, I just didn’t want to make time to do it).

I didn’t end up going to the Apple Store.  But, if I had, here’s how the conversation would have probably gone:

Genius: Hi, how can I help you?
Me: My iPod doesn’t seem to be working.  When I plug it in, it won’t take a charge or connect to my laptop.
Genius: Huh, let me give it a look. (pause as she plugs it in to a cord on her end)  Well, it seems to be working when I plug it in here.
Me: Of course it does.
Genius: Maybe it’s your cord that is the problem.  Have you tried replacing it?
Me: Ugh.  I am such a moron.  Thanks for your help.

When my iPod wasn’t working, I assumed it was either the laptop or the iPod device that was broken.  I never considered that possibility that it was a faulty connection between the two that was causing the problems.  Ultimately, I figured it out, but it took me a week or so before I had that breakthrough.

I think we have a tendency to do the same thing sometimes when we trouble shoot people issues.  If an employee isn’t performing, we assume immediately that either the employee or the supervisor is broken when perhaps what we should be looking for is a faulty connection.

  • Are the two communicating? 
  • Were expectations clear?
  • Was regular feedback happening?  
In most cases, people want to do good work.  We don’t show up to work each day looking to fail or disappoint.  Given the right opportunity and know how, both employees and supervisors are motivated to do good work.  
So, next time a relationship or performance situation isn’t working, consider whether the connection is solid before assuming the people are somehow broken.  If it’s not, start with establishing a sound connection.  Once the connection is solid, you’ll know if you have bigger problems to deal with.  

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