#137: How Competent Are You?
Friday, November 13, 2009
The Oxford dictionary defines "professional" as: worthy of or appropriate to a professional person; competent.
I'd like to focus on the competent portion of the definition and ask not only are you competent, but can you be counted on, is your word your bond?
Two weeks ago I called our local Safety Council for handouts for presentations on highway safety I'll be making on November 17th to high school students. The call to the Council's Director of Marketing and Public Relations has not been returned. Today I left a second voice mail for his assistant. Never got a return call but did get an email stating that she had forwarded my request to MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving). I replied to her that I had already contacted MADD, but wondered if the Council had separate brochures.
All of this because (1) the Director did not return a call (we know each other), (2) his assistant did not return calls and (3) she presumed to know what I wanted without checking with me first.
Competent? Hardly. Their lack of professionalism cost me three telephone calls and an email when one returned call would have resolved the matter.
Then I called another business on a different matter and got the often used voice mail message: "I am either on the phone or away from my desk..." WHO CARES? Why not tell callers you might be in the bathroom or at lunch or on a day off? What is important is that you can't accept the call at that moment, so why not say that?
Or the people who toss you randomly through telephone transfers. I hate when I call and tell the person who answers what my name is and why I'm calling and ask if they can help me only to be told, "Just a moment" and then have the call picked up by someone who answers with, "Hello?" "Hello," I reply. "May I help you?" the other person asks. "No, I'm waiting for the first person I spoke to." "Oh, she transferred you to me." "Great, can you help me?" "What are you calling about?" "Didn't she tell you when she transferred the call?"
You get the picture. Wasted time, incompetence.
How about business's representatives who ask you to verify (to confirm-- Oxford) information such as your address or date of birth. I tell them, "Sure, I'll verify it. What do you have?" "No, I need you to confirm..." What they SHOULD be asking is your address and your date of birth if they want to confirm you are the account holder. Someone was an incompetent trainer.
How about when someone says, "I'll get back to you (this afternoon) (tomorrow) and days later you call back because you never received the promised call-back?
Or a cleaner or other business promises to have something for you on a certain day but when you go to pick it up, it isn't ready and they didn't have the professional courtesy to call and save you a trip.
It used to be that a person's word was their bond and if, for some reason, they could not fulfill what they had promised, they contacted you and explained the situation.
I think of the first of the Boy Scout's traits: "A Scout is trustworthy."
Is it a lack of competent, professional training or is it more a widespread attitude of "I don't care about you?"
I could continue venting for pages but I don't want to abuse your time. I'll end by asking, "Are you competent? Can your word be counted on?"
If not, why not?