The next time you’re driving down the highway, pay close attention to the row of power poles that line the road. Chances are that you will see a barrier midway up the pole — something that you probably never noticed before but once you see it, you’ll be attuned to them everywhere.

These metal or plastic rings are animal guards, designed to keep squirrels, cats and raccoons from climbing up the pole and causing damage to the electrical wires. Animals trigger over 10% of the power outages across the nation (who knew!?) and so animal mitigation is serious business in the utility industry.

Barriers must be far enough off the ground to keep the animals from jumping over them and long enough so the animals are unable to gain traction when they reach the deterrent, but just wrapping the pole is a simple yet effective way to keep the wires atop it safe.

If only organizations provided such clarity as to where the limits are!

Think of the kind of pole wrap you should deploy in your organization – a self-policing tool that establishes boundaries for employees. By clearly delineating where the parameters are, it allows employees autonomy in other areas and frees the supervisor from continual monitoring. Clarity also protects the employee from getting “zapped” through ignorance.

Squirrel barriers are important components of utility poles — a minor investment that can reduce actions with more serious consequences. Organizations would be well served to model this practice.

Thanks, Curt!

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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