Monday, June 17, 2024

About promises


Think about it for a minute. Who do you really trust? Maybe a friend or a colleague, your husband or wife, your boss, a worker? Any of these people maybe somebody you really trust, which means that you have confidence in that person. You are confident that that person will keep his or her promises and is capable of doing what you have agreed will be done. Then again, any of these persons maybe somebody you don’t trust, meaning you don’t have the confidence that this person will keep his or her promises or is capable of doing something you need that person to do for you. Trust is something which grows as promises are kept and the goods are delivered. On the other hand, trust can easily be violated and lost in the process. This is true in personal relationships, be it family, social or work relationships, and it is also true for companies, which have established a certain reputation in the market. Customers buy products of a certain brand because they are confident that what they get is good value for money and they trust that the services of that particular company are good. Many passengers have more confidence in some airlines than others, depending on the track records of those airlines.
Whether somebody performs satisfactory in your opinion or simply lets you down depends basically on two factors:
Is that person capable of doing what you expect him or her to do?
Is that person willing to do what you expect him or her to do?
Now, there are severable possible combinations of the “Can” and “Will” factors, which are matched in the table below:

  Will Will not
Can I II
Cannot III IV

Quadrant I = This person can and will do what is expected.
Quadrant II = This person can but doesn’t want to do what is expected.
Quadrant III = This person has the will but is not capable of doing what is expected.
Quadrant IV = This person cannot and will not do what is expected.
Reasons why a person is capable of doing something depend on certain factors like knowledge, skills, and experience. Things can be learnt. It is more complicated with the “will” factor though as this relates to motivation. Many theories have been developed about how to best motivate people to perform but I still haven’t found out how best to motivate workers in Ethiopia. That is a topic for another article, however.
Let us instead have a closer look at the kind of people we deal with everyday and see how they affect the extent of confidence we would have in them.
Quadrant I persons can easily be trusted. We know that they are capable, and we know or will soon find out that they will do their best to do the job. We can have full confidence in them and our confidence in them grows fast, keeping pace with their track record. The problem is they are not the majority of the people we deal with. Quadrant IV persons don’t give much of a problem either as we should know they cannot do the job and they don’t even want to do it. If hired, they will not last long before being found out.
The problems we face though are with the quadrant II and III persons. In quadrant II we deal with people who can do the job but will most likely not do it to the best of their ability or complete it if they even started it in the first place. They are a major source of stress and disappointment as we have to keep chasing them or as we find out that the results of what they are capable of turns out to be of low quality after all. These are the consultants that disappear after they delivered their draft report and received their second pay check out of three. These are also the experts, designers and technicians who take advantage of the ignorance of their client and get away with highly paid services that don’t meet required standards by far. They are opportunists and prey on the ignorant during times of scarcity. They cannot be trusted but the client only finds out when it is already too late, when the damage is done and when the payment is made. It is especially disappointing to meet quadrant II persons in certain professions where trust is so important exactly because the client depends on their expert knowledge and skills. Ethical conduct comes in here I suppose.
Finally, we have the Quadrant III people who are willing to work but don’t have the capacity to do the job well. No shortage of them at all and causing frustration all around as what they do is simply not good and a waste of money and time. What they make is not according to standard and more often than not the job needs to be done all over again. The vast numbers of quadrant III people that we come across in all sorts of work lead me to my continued appeal for the need for massive expansion of education and vocational training in this country. After all, things can be learnt.
And so, we cannot trust people blindly and always expect good results, much as we would want to. But trust grows quickly as promises are kept. Can you be trusted?

Ton Haverkort

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