Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Being Beyond Yourself

I have released more than a few contractors working on houses who contend with me about my desires instead of giving me what I want. Just this morning I was at an inspection in which I hired a group of electricians that had done excellent work on other houses. The master electrician had been a city inspector for 35 years and had three journeymen working under him. They did the work on yesterday. I came back in the early evening, walked through all of the inspection violations, and paid them. (Included in the contract was a clause to correct the necessary re-inspection violations should there be any.)

This morning was the re-inspection. Instead of noting the changes and agreeing to correct them accordingly, my master electrician argued incessantly with the city inspector about codes in another city. He repeatedly made references to his many years of experience as an inspector himself, as the journeymen chimed in occasionally. Not being an electrician, I let them slug it out. Finally, I interjected saying that it did not matter what the codes were in another city; what mattered most is what this city inspector sited in this city at this house. The master continued to wrangle, now with me. I was becoming increasingly annoyed. All that mattered to me was compliance with the city inspection. I had tenants waiting to move in. I stood on the side of the inspector, as he was the one granting the license and I had worked with him on three other houses. I pulled my master electrician aside. He then conceded to what I was trying to accomplish.

When the inspector left, I assured my master electrician that while he may have had some very good points, what I would expect from him in moving forward was that he would not continue to make his points to the peril of others. I needed this house done like yesterday. I was also trying to make a point to his journeymen who were learning the trade from the master. What I wanted most was for the house to pass the inspection and get the tenants who had already signed the lease agreement the opportunity to move in. He was not concerned about this, though he should have been. While the electrician is truly a master, I probably will use him less, as I do not think I want to listen to him or have my plans obstructed. He missed the forest for the trees and did not pay much attention to my needs.


Catvibe said...

Yikes, say goodbye quick! Good story, I enjoyed reading it I'm sure a lot more than you enjoyed experiencing it. Thanks!

judith ellis said...

Funny, I did not get rid of him and I have no plans of doing so at this time. Generally, I have an incredible ability to hang in there with people until I can hang no more. (People have hung in there with me. For this, I am grateful.) I had worked with him three other times and he has always done excellent work and been very respectful. He's an old school kind of guy who felt particularly challenged for some reason.

Yesterday must have simply been a bad day. We all have them, though I hope to have less of them daily. This requires much conscious effort. I could have blown my top listening to him go back and forth and even with me. I must say that I have not always been so patient in the past, even though I have always tried to be thoughtful. Sometimes my top blowing was calculated; at other times it was just sheer anger at decisions that were made thoughtlessly. Time teaches, often through many years.

We are all under such stress at this particular time so my desire is to be even more patient. My partner and I could hire the most well known firm to do the work, and also incur the prices--my partner is well ready to do this. But I have decided not to do so as this is my decision in our partnership in order to build a loyal team and to give other opportunities that may not have such. (ALL of the houses that we have renovated have turned out brilliantly. They are all rented or under land contracts and we have saved tons.) I will, as I have said, undoubtedly use him less until I can actually sit down and talk with him. I was also concerned about the way he was teaching his journeymen.

Excellent work is not good enough; we lead by our total example.

Cynthia said...

This is a situation easy to imagine. The ego and the I knows
of some people, who should really
be more intune to what the
client wants.

judith ellis said...

Without doubt, Cynthia. It's a matter of realizing your role and thinking outside of yourself, even your knowledge--especially your knowledge. This I check myself on often in a effort to keep aligned.