Archive for May 15th, 2009

Should We Expect Colleagues to Demonstrate Competence?

Someone new registered for the forum a couple weeks ago.

She met all the minimum criteria and was approved to complete her profile.

Her username had to be changed since she did not follow the registration directions for that (obviously rushing through too fast to actually read them or just didn’t care to honor our request).

When she sent her email to us that she had placed the membership seal on her site, the link she provided showed that she had not in fact actually done that. What she did was place our logo on her site. This was the second step where she didn’t follow directions.

My administrator gave her the standard reply in those situations (“that is not an approved use of our logo and must be taken off the site; please refer back to the instructions for placing the approved membership seal code on your site and let us know when you have made this correction… “).

When she emailed us back that she had made the correction, her profile was double-checked to make sure all steps had been followed (standard procedure).

Unfortunately, she had yet again failed to follow just about every instruction, wasting everyone’s time and attention in the process.

Here’s the message I sent her:


“My administrator has passed this onto me to handle. I’m afraid you have failed to follow several of the instructions. We’ll give you one more try to get things right (you’ll need to go in and read the instructions thoroughly this time). We won’t be able to approve your membership if you are unable to do so. We need members to demonstrate a professional level of competence, qualification, which includes the ability to pay attention and follow directions. That may sound harsh, but as a professional organization, we uphold a promise to clients that we takes very seriously: the the administrative support experts in our group are the best of the best. Not following directions, repeatedly, does not convey to us that level of competence.”

Now, to her credit, this person did not get hysterical like so many do, blaming us for their own failings. She did, however, reply that while she appreciated the chance for “one more try,” it wouldn’t be necessary.

This is a very tame example. You wouldn’t believe some of the ugly hate mail I get when people are not approved.

In this case, we didn’t even “reject” her. We were willing to give her another opportunity to take things a little more seriously, not rush through the instructions, and show us — demonstrate — that she is a competent professional who is able to handle the demands of taking care of clients to a professional standard.

Here’s my frustration in these instances:

We don’t know these folks from Adam or Eve. It’s their job to show us (demonstrate) that they are skilled, competent, qualified professionals.

Would you go to a job interview on your worst behavior, wearing your sloppiest clothes, talking like a street thug?

Would you expect to get the job if you filled out forms incorrectly or didn’t pass any tests you had to undergo?

Of course not.

So why are these people so insulted when the first face they present to us isn’t one that inspires the greatest of confidence?

This society where everyone thinks they are entitled to be catered to and coddled and have everything handed over to them baffles me.

It’s not our job to give them the benefit of the doubt.

If they can’t follow the simplest of instructions here, what on earth are clients going to get?

We can’t represent those who don’t take this seriously or who otherwise don’t demonstrate a level of professional skill and competence.

Our word has to mean something when we tell clients that they are going to connect them with skilled individuals from our group.

We also have an obligation to our members to uphold our standards of excellence and qualification to ensure their reputations as well. You are judged by the company you keep.

If a client has a bad experience with someone who touts our name on her site, our other members may suffer from that association.

The client may think if that’s the level of competence in one, the apple may not fall far from the tree, so to speak. They might not want to hire anyone else from our group after that.

And frankly, no one (not clients, myself, my administrators nor members and colleagues) wants to deal with someone who is a pain in the ass because they consistently don’t pay attention or have to be constantly asked to please follow directions.

We welcome all administrative experts who are in business to provide ongoing administrative support, but they have to step up to the plate and put their best professional foot forward.

So what do you think? Is that too much to ask?

What happens if there are no standards of excellence or at least a minimal display of the most basic ability?

Do you think clients want to partner with anyone who is difficult, defensive and frustrating to work with this respect (because they don’t read thoroughly, need to have requests repeated over and over to them, and don’t follow specifications or directions according to the client’s wishes)?