I work with contractors and consultants in nearly every aspect of my life. How is it that the idea of “workmanship,” or the pride of a job well done, can vary so greatly among the masses that work as independent contractors and consultants?
I’ve done a few remodels over the last few years, and find that guys that wield hammers can be just as professional as guys that swing keyboards (or calculators, or pica poles). Most often, the qualifier for being an independent is being capable enough to secure commitments (work), and then paddle like mad to deliver. If you do this well, your business grows. Do it poorly, you go back to working for someone else.
When I say “Pride of Workmanship,” I’m meaning that one has understood an assignment, applied their professional judgment to clarify and provide quality control, and taken responsibility for management of the best possible delivery of services.
Unfortunately, I’m seeing a number of snafus that give me pause in my various interactions. As the client, I’m finding that I have to go back and call my contractors (my employees in the effort) to the carpet for a half-assed effort.
- I asked for a bathroom remodel, but there is no way to access that shiny new toilet wedged between the tub, sink and wall;
- I asked for technical research, but the examples and conclusion don’t relate to our business, and lack citation;
- You told me it would be done a week ago, and I’ve still not heard from you.
We all make mistakes (we’ve readily admitted as much). But beyond the occasional oversight, what happened to pride in your work? When did logging the hours or a prescriptive execution of the request become good enough?
Take two minutes and think about this in your practice — I will, and as a consumer of contract services will be a whole lot more likely to refer you to others:
- Learn To Estimate Your Effort. Start tracking time for projects that you will continue to bid and deliver in the future. Good estimates make you look like an expert, and ensure that you don’t lose your shirt (or my confidence).
- Manage Your Calendar. I don’t need everything tomorrow, but I want realistic delivery dates 95% of the time. Managing your time helps manage my expectations.
- Know What You Don’t Know. If you are out of your depth, admit it and do the leg work to close the gap. Be a problem solver.
- Spell Check. Look at your work one last time before calling it complete. Double check your math, run the spell check, do a once over of the job site. Don’t overlook dumb mistakes that are easy to flag and address as the expert, even if they will take a little extra time to deliver.
- Think Principles, Not Prescriptive. Think about the intent of what you were asked to deliver, not just the specific language that was used. Most clients don’t have your expertise (hence, you were hired) and may not have a strong grasp of how best to tackle the problem. Be smart, and make sure that you are going to deliver on expectations and not just the work statement.
Be ready to be accountable for what you deliver. This task (however mundane) is part of your portfolio and how the client views your brand. Make this impression count, and give them a good reason to recommend you to others.