Leadership: No Leaks, A Complete Sockeroo

Jan. 6, 2017

A recent trip to my local home improvement store reminded me of the value attained when organizations utilize professionals skilled in their trade to assist clients and customers solve their toughest challenges.

It is a beautiful Saturday morning. I have a long list of fun things to do, places to go and family time to enjoy when I noticed the tub faucet leaking. Drip, drip, drip. It was one of those moments when you want to look away and pretend it is not happening. Not today. An internal battle ensues. Do I let it go for a day or two and keep my wonderful plans or do I try to fix it quickly to save most of the day? Yes. No. No, yes. We’ve all been there.

When the battleground cleared and reality kicked in, I elected to fix the leak. After all, it is an inefficiency in the water supply system. The only issue is that I never have attempted to fix this particular type of faucet. Confident that I can fix anything, I disassembled the unit into no less than 10 parts, some small, some rather large. Off I go to the home improvement store to purchase new ones.

The Proposition

“Hello. Good day ma’am. Where can I find tub faucet parts,” I ask. “Aisle 10, sir.” The customer service representative replied.

Okay, let’s see. The parts are organized by brand. Got it. I see one of the parts and quickly grab it with one goal in mind: get in and get out as quickly as humanly possible. I found another part, and another and another. Got them. I was feeling good only with two parts to go.

I searched and searched and searched until an early career employee, Patrick, spotted me and offered his assistance. “Hello, sir. Can I help you find anything?” Patrick asked. 

“Good day, Patrick, and yes, thank you,” I replied. “I am looking for these two tub faucet parts (I handed the old ones to him) and cannot seem to locate them here in your display. Can you help me?”

“Sure thing. Let me see. Here’s one and…,” Patrick replied. Just as he was looking for the only part left to find, another, more experienced employee walked up to assist.

“Hello sir,” my name is Jaime. I see that you have a lot of new parts for your tub faucet there in your hands.”

“Yes,” I replied. Jaime looks at my prized finds and glances back at me and says: “May I ask you a question?”

“Absolutely,” I responded.

“What is the issue with your tub faucet?” Jaime asks.

“Well, it leaks,” I responded with a sigh. Meanwhile, Patrick still is busy looking for the one remaining part.

“Okay, does your faucet operate smoothly? I mean, are you able to turn it on and off without much trouble?” asks Jaime.

“Yes, the faucet handle operates freely,” I replied.

“Alright. Your problem is not going to be fixed by purchasing all of those parts,” Jaime proclaims.

Bewildered by Jaime’s observation, I said: “Really? Then what do I need?” You can see Patrick stop in his tracks when he was looking for the missing part. Both of us now intently are glancing at Jaime and awaiting his next words.

“What you need is this right here, and that’s all,” Jamie stated.

He handed me a small bag with a thin rubber washer within.

“Shine a flashlight through the hole, remove the old seal by gently pushing the tip of a sharp pencil into its center and carefully backing it out. Insert the new seal the same way, reassemble the faucet mechanism and you are good to go. Your faucet seal is bad, not the faucet mechanism.”

Confused by the simplicity of the fix and the time constraints I was under, I said: “Are you sure?”

Jaime replied, “That is your fix. Is there anything else I can do for you today?”

“No sir. Thank you Jaime and Patrick for your assistance. You both have no idea how much I appreciate your help.”

Before they both depart, Patrick says: “I’ve learned something today.”

All of the “extra” parts were returned to their place. I headed towards the cashier with that little tiny rubber washer and another internal battle. Should I go back and buy all of the parts just in case or do I take a leap of faith in Jaime and only by the new seal? It is that moment in time when you realize that this decision-making process is keeping you from moving in any direction. We’ve all been there.

Decision: trust Jaime’s experience. Off I go with one small bag in tow, a glimmer of optimism and a tinkle of pessimism.

The Test

I take my flashlight and shine it through the opening, just like Jaime said. There, to my surprise, is a deteriorated small rubber washer. I take a sharp pencil, push it through the center hole and pull it out carefully. Just like Jaime said.

I insert the new one on the pencil tip, reinstall it carefully and reassemble the faucet. Just like Jaime said.

Fingers are crossed as the water supply valve is opened. A leak at this point will mean a significant delay to the start of our planned family day. A walk from the main water supply valve to the upstairs bathroom seems like a long journey, one where you want to get there quickly but sometime tomorrow will work as well.

I stood by the doorway without looking in for just a second, took a deep breath, let out a sigh and seized that opportunity to glance at the faucet. No leak. Just like Jaime said.

Our family day is saved.

The Value of an Experienced Safety Professional

The value of experience and professionalism cannot be underestimated. This is true for any vocation including the safety profession. If you, as a leader, assign an inexperienced person to develop and administer your safety management system, the results will not be that same as if you assigned a safety professional.

All too often I see inexperienced resources allocated to solving safety challenges. I, a weekend warrior plumber, would have spent an entire day without success trying to fix a simple faucet leak without a professional’s help. The worst that can happen in this instance is that I lose a fun day with the family and continue to have the water leak.

When it comes to safety, the stakes are a lot higher. Your organization can waste valuable resources through the eyes of the inexperienced. The worst that can happen here can be life changing for your company and for your employee’s families.

Safety professionals understand the right questions to ask in solving organizational challenges by minimizing trial and error. We know and understand what seals are leaking and how to help you achieve mission assurance faster and better. Safety professionals eliminate inefficiencies, help drive predictable performance and save countless organizational resources by asking the right questions at the right time to drive desirable, predictable and sustainable outcomes.

When your safety management system is in need of repair, demonstrate exceptional leadership. Rely on safety professionals to guide you towards the right solutions.

No leaks, a complete sockeroo. Just like Jaime said.

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