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#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?
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    My sister and I were talking about this just a few days ago - She is stickler. If my sister says she is going to do something, be sure it will be done. I've been spoiled with her in that way.
    I realized that while I do everything I can to keep my word to other people - even if it means backing out of something, keeping my word to myself somehow does not seem as important to me. It's part everything Im trying to tackle in my journey. If you are competent with other people, it's difficult for them to understand you being unable to be competent for yourself. Sometimes, they wont believe that they could help you.
    4125 days ago
  • TEDYBEAR2838
    You are definitely right and I agree with you. A man's word does not mean today what it used to in olden times.! I believe I am a person of my word. I sure try to always be.

    emoticon from the one and only emoticon
    4125 days ago
    Sadly, this Country is full of don't care attitudes. What ever happened to taking pride in our work? Especially when dealing with people.....
    4125 days ago
    If my clients called to see if I could take a transcription job and I didn't return their call for two days, guess what? Another typist would be stuffing my dollars into her pocket! The problem is that it's so hard to switch companies for most things and flat out impossible for others (i.e., a rude or incompetent person at a utility or government office). There's very little competition and that's a bad thing. Good blog, and so true, Lou. Thanks.
    4125 days ago
    I agree with you. It is frustrating to have to deal with people who do not follow through with what they say. What is even more frustrating for me, is being the "middle man", so to speak; the one who has to field calls, relay messages, and deal with the irate people who insist on satisfaction. Then I realize, I have done the best I could do; I followed through with what I said I would do. I can not be responsible for someone else's lack of keeping their word.
    4125 days ago
    I love this blog! I always say - My word is my bond. Everyone one in my life who knows me, truly knows me, know that what I say I mean. I dont say anything I dont mean and I never make a promise. Promises get broken. I make bonds. I make commitments. When I say I will do something it is done.

    Todays world is I'll get to you when it becomes important for me to get to you. It drives me crazy. I have left many businesses due to lack of follow through. Some have cared, most have not.

    4125 days ago
  • no profile photo CD5178852
    Many of us are competent to do our job, be it run our family or work outside of the home. What I am finding over and over, is that companies are laying off staff to save costs and now one employee is trying to do what used to take 3 people to accomplish. I've been 'down sized' twice in 2 years and the senior workers have had to scurry around like chickens with their heads cut off.

    But you are correct that folks should not assume to know what you want, they should never ignore your message to call back and they should contact us whenever situations change to relieve the customer's disappointment.

    I am usually competent. I try not to guarantee anything that I have no control over. I try my best to deliver what is asked of me.
    4125 days ago
  • no profile photo CD4114015
    Most assuredly! I have been a stickler for my word...it is the only real thing in this world that I have that is really MINE to give...my word. I retired from a VERY big company, and if I gave my word that I would do something I either DID it or called back to explain what was going on and WHY I had not completed the task.

    Lou, I can relate to everything you said here and have been in the exact position you spoke of. I also know how frustrating it is to be the person waiting for the call back. I am sorry you had to go through it. It seems in today's world not many really care if their word is good or not. Shame.
    4125 days ago
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