Stumped and… Getting past it
When we’re struggling to diagnose an electrical issue, reading a schematic can be pretty intimidating, But, if we think in simpler terms, unraveling it’s code can be a little bit easier. Remember a schematic isn’t a map of the actual wiring, it’s an illustration of how a circuit is connected and how it’s “parts” interact with one another.
With that in mind, one way to simplify reading one is to think of electricity as water in a system of interconnected pipes. If you can imagine the flow of that “water” when you look at the schematic, understanding its paths – and therefore which part might have gone kaput is a lot easier.
Take a relay that delivers 220 Volt power to a tank heater. If we can confirm that control power is flowing to its’ magnetic coils (that close its contacts), we pretty much know that ought to work. If it doesn’t click – or it does and then it’s contacts reopen, it’s bad.
But if its’ contacts are closing (and staying closed) and we can measure 220 Volts both flowing into it and from it, the problem is downstream from it. In all likelihood the heater element’s the culprit. If we test the resistance on it and it’s sky high, it’s bad. Problem solved!
In the end, diagnosing every electrical problem we’ll encounter won’t be in the cards for most of us, but with a bit of systematic thinking and maybe a simpler approach to doing that, we’ll be a lot more successful doing it that we might have ever thought.
Praising the good… Correcting the bad
Praise and criticism are both tricky. Praise, if it’s offered at the right time and when it’s deserved can be downright uplifting. Criticism, done at the right time in the right way, can be a strong force in improving performance. Praise that’s either underserved or just clumsily delivered can be ineffective. But in the case of criticism, delivered the wrong way can be totally counterproductive.
There’s an old saying that’s truly worth remembering: “Praise in public, criticize in private”. And even though we all intuitively understand that simple rule, it amazing how, in the heat of a frustrating moment, we can so easily forget to follow it.
The other rule is to sandwich criticism with praise. It’s amazing how much more receptive we can be to constructive criticism when it’s applied with a bit of praise and packaged as a benefit to us. Take this example of an associate who tends to be a little harsh with customers: “You’re probably the most talented technician I’ve worked with and our customers really appreciate that fact, but you can be a little abrupt at times. If you’d soften up a bit in dealing with them, I’d bet it would make your job a lot more enjoyable”.
No matter the situation, these two aspects of managing people are ones that need to be mastered. Assuming they are, the job gets both easier and, in the end, more rewarding.
Next up: When the sandwich doesn’t work