Leaking Toilets, Leaking Talent

Frantic email from a tenant telling me the toilet was leaking, creating mold, malaise, and mess.

I was not happy. Concern for my customer’s comfort and safety demanded that I stop everything to attend to the issue. My mind raced around things I’d rather be doing and the Not at all what I wanted, and no doubt at least a $200 maintenance call that could become far more expensive and disruptive to my tenant’s peace.

My mood changed from sunny to sour far faster than I would like to admit. Does an emotional crisis from a sudden leak ever knock you off your sunny perch? Of course it does, that’s how our brains work. Perfectly designed to react to a perceived threat, the brain jumps to the worst conclusions until we train it otherwise, which I continue to practice.

“Condensation,” the word appeared like a happy horse galloping to the rescue. I called a couple plumber friends and they concurred. Seasonally warm water in the tank combined with cold a/c outside the tank creates condensation as it also does in winter when cold water interacts with hot air (and our political class should be dripping wet about now). The water droplets form just like they do on a cold beverage on a hot day, drip down the side, and look like a leak. The mold is not mold at all but algae formed from dust mixing with condensation. Harmless. Nothing at all to worry about once explained.

How many business owners fret similarly over talent leaking out of their companies? There’s a leak! I see moldy attitudes! This could destroy us!

Sometimes that talent leak is as normal as condensation if – HUGE IF – your company is developing talent and creating a culture with staying power. You know where this is going now, right?

If you do what it takes to engage and develop your people, the leak will be minor, seasonal, and relatively harmless. Yes, you may need to adjust something to lessen possible damage. But how can you know? If you ignore it, or misdiagnose the problem, will it not spread and cause a ton of damage to morale, productivity, and revenue?

The vast majority of business owners ignore talent leaks to their company’s peril. Their customers suffer and suffering customers are experts at finding a new place with less suffering, wouldn’t you agree?

How about a conversation about talent leaks? In that regard, I’m your plumber, and I will understand if you’re a tad reluctant to shake hands.