The 60-Second Consultant

By Timothy Bentley

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The Hidden Breaker

09 October 2019

by Timothy Bentley

We had a delightful cruise this summer among the glorious Thousand Islands. But one disastrous day our anchor refused to come out of the water. It was stuck in rocks 30 feet below. 

We tried to use its electric winch (the “windlass”) to raise it, but it wouldn’t budge. 

With growing anxiety, we made the boat circle the anchor, tugging at it from every direction – to the great amusement of our fellow boaters.  

Under all that strain, there was a second disaster: the windlass motor stopped working. I tried resetting the windlass breaker on our electrical panel, but it didn’t fix it.  

Eventually, to our great relief, the anchor broke free.  

I assumed the windlass was permanently broken, which led in the next hour to several more hair-raising adventures. And then….  

As we rocked in the waves, I discovered there was a second breaker for the windlass, cleverly hidden behind a cover. One simple click, and the windlass worked perfectly. We raised the anchor and headed happily toward town to buy groceries. 

Now I’m not claiming the manufacturers deliberately hid the second breaker when they built the boat. I’m just saying that sometimes we need to be a little suspicious when our first attempt to fix a problem doesn’t work. 

For instance, when a work crew seems demoralized, even after their disputed lunch breaks have been guaranteed. 

Or when peers continue to mutter about a member of their committee, even after you had a talk with the person, who agreed to be more respectful. 

Or when morale in a certain department continues to sink, even after their boss took that course in leadership. 

360-degree feedback is one way to find that hidden breaker that can make all the difference.  

It provides frank, anonymous information about what’s really going on. It can guide you as a leader, and encourage the person being assessed to make significant changes.  

It’s a great way to strengthen your organization and raise spirits. Before your people undergo any more hair-raising adventures.

Timothy Bentley is Chief Operating Officer of Panoramic Feedback.