How’s Your Motor Running

by | Oct 27, 2009 | Consulting, Leadership

In the working dynamics of an internal combustion engine, three components are necessary. FUEL, SPARK, and AIR. Take any one of these three components out and the engine will not even start, let alone run smoothly.

Let’s see if we can apply these dynamics to working business relationships.

1. Fuel.

Just like fuel is the combustible ingredient that provides energy for the process of motion, so communication is required for the creating and sustaining the motion of business. Within communication lies the properties necessary for the ignition of any plan and the creative potential for any idea to be carried out to its completion. An adequate and on-going supply of communication is as critical to the business process as much as an adequate and on-going supply of fuel is necessary to have in the gas tank. Limit that supply and everything stops. “High octane” communication can ensure that expectations discussed are clear, efficient, and useable. It’s always worth the extra expense of high octane fuel to make a motor run smoothly.
2. Spark.

When expectations are clear and the tank is full of “high octane” directives, you need to provide a flash of inspiration. A spark of creativity. Not just an initial spark, but a synchronized firing of good ideas and thinking outside the box. From concept through problem-solving, the spark of sharp minds working together can make the difference between a smooth-running project and a bunch of tire-kickers standing around looking under the hood at a disabled motor with no clue what the problem is. So whether you have a 4-cyclinder compact or a V-8 turbo, the spark plugs need to fire cleanly. And you’ll know when they don’t. It’s called hesitation and loss of power.

3. Air.

High octane fuel and clean spark plugs alone will not make a motor run. The third component is a proper mix of air to the fuel. Air, in the human dynamics of working relationships its called encouragement. We are not machines, we function with a built-in need for someone to say, “Good job!” or “I really appreciate the effort you put into this.” But it’s a mix of air that makes it work. Enough air to keep the inspiration high. But not so much as to foster an overly emotional staff. That being said, if there is a mixture deficiency in many business dynamics today it would be in the supply of enough encouragement.

One last point to make on the similarities between engine and business dynamics: In the engine, when the combustion process is working properly, an acceptable level of heat is exchanged. This is normal and necessary. But like everything else, it needs to be monitored. So it is with human business dynamics. In the journey of human beings working in stressful situations and under tight deadlines, it can get heated.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. But as someone managing the process, you’ll need to keep an eye on the temperature gauge. (Note: Don’t use an “idiot light.” They only tell you the obvious. A gauge will show you in advance if things are getting too hot.)

If you feel you might need to give the human dynamic engine in your organization a tune-up, we can help with some fantastic programs. Our Core Collection of personal assessments and workshops can help you with interpersonal communications, team dynamics, work expectations, time management, and even coping with stress.