Another basis for judging people

This roof repair project of ours has benefited us in at least two ways. It’s been a learning experience and, at the same time, it has validated our past experience. It has served to remind us that we need to be open to new ideas, but we need to test them against what we’ve learned previously.

New problems may require new solutions, but certain basic actions are the best guarantee of success in any endeavor. You can accurately judge the worth of a person or organization, even yourself, by how well these three things are done:

1. Promising only what you intend to deliver
2. Keeping your word once given
3. Following through so as to meet expectations

We instinctively and accurately judge a person by how well they do these three things, whether they are a child or an adult. We trust people who do these things. People who don’t do these things are untrustworthy, no matter who they are, how educated they are, or how important they may be.

Whenever I have found a person or organization that does not do all three of these things consistently, I have found irrational behavior, an underlying confusion, a string of broken promises, and some level of criminal activity. The results of associating with them has been uniformly unsuccessful.

Sometimes, you will find a family or business which exhibits this irritating behavior although the person you deal with seems to be personally honest and straightforward. This can drive you crazy because you trust them, but their performance never meet your expectations.

If you investigate, you will usually find someone in that group has something to hide. They are a secret drinker, or drug user, or have something else going on that they are ashamed of.

In my previous dealings with this roofing contractor, he had proved himself to be very helpful and reliable. He is a sincere, outgoing person who is eager to please.

This time, he had an older relative working for him who said very little and who never seemed to be doing any work on the roof. This was a bad indication, as this person supposedly had expertise necessary for this project.

On this project, there were too many expectations that were not being met and non-essential activities were being performed instead. None of these were major errors, but I found myself having to check up on the work more and more in order to understand what was going on.

I would let the contractor know that he was not meeting expectations and get his agreement to get things in order. He would take care of the things I brought up, but other unexpected things would occur.

I had resolved to address more issues with the contractor on Saturday morning. As I reviewed the tasks with him, he sighed and said he understood, but that he needed to get the kitchen finished immediately because his brother was leaving early that day.

I got the impression that the departure was a result of a decision he had made and didn’t press him further. I wanted to wait and see what would happen as a result of this change.

To preserve domestic tranquility, I took Gretchen out to breakfast and we enjoyed a leisurely discussion of what we had observed and what it could mean in terms of completing the project. We had both noticed some deficiencies in the brother’s performance and felt he would not be missed.

When we returned from breakfast, we found our kitchen ceiling had already been installed with new recessed lights. The contractor had taken his brother to the airport and we were finally making progress!

Later in the day, we noticed a significant improvement in activity level of the project. The contractor and his remaining worker were putting shingles on the roof at a great rate and they were animated and cheerful as never before. Elimination of the unwilling or incompetent worker had improved the productivity and morale of the rest of the group.

At the end of the day, it was evident that we will complete this project as intended. The work being done is better and the contractor seems more confident and competent than before. Getting rid of an employee that he could not adequately manage improved his perfomance and his certainty. When the time is appropriate, I am sure he will discuss his decision.

Meanwhile, I will continue to monitor the project. I feel more confidence in the outcome now.

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