The Attitude Variable – an Unexpected Deal-Cincher

Photo by Shelley Ginger, used under Creative Commons License

Attitude is one of those things that’s often underrated because it’s not easily measured.  You know it when you see it in people (or experience it) and it affects your world–as well as their own.

Most people would be banging their heads against the walls by now, but I’m staying rather upbeat, watching this experiment in human dynamics play out as I take bids on multiple home repair jobs.  The unexpected variable in this experiment is attitude, not expertise,  money, or any form of a typical business deal.  This is something I learned at home this week, not in the 21 years I negotiated contracts for the Department of Defense where performance, schedule, cost, and past performance are the usual parameters and “attitude” doesn’t get to play at all.

Innately, I know that I don’t want anyone in my home-sweet-home who has a mean streak, is lazy, or snarls daily, whether they’re installing a lamp fixture or unclogging a toilet.  I keep a lovely and serene environment and I don’t want that spoiled by snarky people.  It’s my sanctuary, even if it does need a few things fixed up. And that’s where attitude comes into play–I want to keep my attitude upbeat and happy and that means dealing with people of like mind…or at least, like attitude.  From a spiritual standpoint, I want that kind of energy in my environment.

A little background: as many of my readers know, Hurricanes Dennis, Katrina, and finally Rita finished off my roof several years ago.  To add insult to injury, Home Depot’s roofers decimated my gardens by not following normal cleanup procedures (read that, they shoveled debris onto my gardens instead of onto a tarp and into a dumpster), parked a dumpster on my lawn and damaged the sprinklers, and did such a poor job in the first ELEVEN days that rain poured through my ceiling, down the walls, and caused plenty of damage inside my home.  I’ll go easy on my blood pressure and not post the photo of the tree branch that was shingled over….   I battled it out with them for 18 months (two springtimes) but they had about 35 more lawyers than I did and, just so I could get on with my life, I ended up settling for a pittance of what it cost to make the repairs inside the house.  During that time, I was advised not to do anything with the damaged gardens, interior, or sprinklers and while I waited month after month for them to send various people to  survey the damage.  Meanwhile, the gardens turned into a jungle I never got control over.

To finish all the repair and refurbishment projects that resulted from various hurricane-and-roofer-related damage, I needed an electrician, an exterior house painter, a tile layer, a carpenter, a lawn service, and a sprinkler repair man.  Yeah, like I’ve got time for that.  So for $15, I outsourced it to whose virtual assistants in India set up a series of appointments with local repairmen to provide me with quotes, made the initial contact, and explained what was needed.  The results were actually a little too much for me for about 48 hours because I had repairmen all over my property to assess the job but the wheels were in motion and my home was on its way to looking like the gardens on the 9 of Pentacles card!

And this is where the attitude variable came into the equation.

Several contenders quickly fell by the wayside because they refused to talk to someone with a foreign accent or flat-out lied and said they didn’t do the kind of work they had just advertised in that day’s newspaper.  Some made slurs in reference to my foreign assistants. Okay, off the list.  I don’t need their brand of energy on my property or in my home.

The next to fall out of the competition were the ones who lectured me or belittled me regarding the jungle in my back yard.  If I wanted to be lectured, I’d still be married to my ex, thank you.  After that, I crossed off the ones who acted as if being hired would be such an inconvenienceto them, at any price.  Nope, don’t need that either.

In the end, I have found the right people for the jobs.  They’re not necessarily the cheapest or have the longest history as a local company.  But the one thing they have in common is a great attitude–positive, helpful, understanding, uncomplaining, let’s-get-this-done, wonderful energy that will carry over into their work and into the product they leave behind.  I feel that I’m truly partnering with them to get the job done.

You know, I know how to conduct a source selection (competition) and have many, many times for the US Government for many millions of dollars, but I’ve never used attitude as part of the evaluation criteria.  Partly, I suppose, because it can’t be objectively measured.  But given my own whirlwind competition, it makes me wonder what would happen with all the Defense Department’s acquisitions if attitude played a bigger part in the selection.


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