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Installments: The 13 mental lapses

June 9/16, 2014; Volume 27/Number 29

By David Stafford

Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 11.44.18 AMBoth independent installers and employees of flooring contractors risk losing a job because of personal conduct rather than technical expertise (or lack therof). Here are 13 examples from my own experience:

Walking off the job without telling anyone when job conditions are different than you expected. “This was supposed to be with moderate furniture and now I see we also have rubber-backed take-up in about half the area. Let’s just go have a beer.”

Being late. “Yeah, I know the job was scheduled to begin at 8 a.m., but I needed to have breakfast first and then make a pit stop. Besides, I can still get the job finished by the end of the day.”

Whining about job conditions or the product to be installed. “Why aren’t you giving me an empty glue down job instead of this strip and pad? You know I don’t like these, and besides, this carpet is awfully stiff and would be hard to stretch. I’ll probably have to get that power stretcher back from my cousin to do the job.

Repeated failure to show up for work, citing personal or family problems. “Well, I had to go to my grandmother’s funeral this past Saturday … No, that was my mother-in-law’s grandmother’s funeral last month.”

Using profane language to explain to the client why a job was not finished on schedule. “That @#%!@# manager, Joe, didn’t show up to let us in early, and other trades were in the way.”

Lapses in personal hygiene and appearance. “Well, since this was an unoccupied building, I didn’t take time to shave or take a shower and just wore shorts.” Unfortunately, the architect, project manager, owner and flooring company president were all walking the space in preparation for final acceptance of the job.

Smoking in occupied areas in a smoke-free building. “It was too much trouble to go outside for a Marlboro … No, I didn’t realize those fire alarms could be set off so easily.”

Failure to wear safety items such as hard hats and safety shoes on certain construction projects. “These shoes are uncomfortable and there’s no one around, so I’ll just switch to my Nikes.”

Failure to follow installation standards, such as seam sealer at all carpet seams. “That must be some really alkaline concrete to eat up all my seal sealer that quickly. That was cheap carpet anyway, and it’ll probably fall apart before you have trouble with my seams.”

Taking “shots” at getting extra money for work that was not done or exaggerating the amount of work that was necessary. “When we took the carpet up we had to spend eight hours patching.” (However, only three bags of patching compound were used on the job.)

Delays in providing pertinent job information. “I’ll just turn this next week when I get back from the beach.”

Using drugs while on the job. “It makes the day more harmonious, and since I’m relaxed I can make seams and kick carpet more quickly.”

Fighting with team members while on the job. “Yeah, I needed 30 stitches to close up that cut on my jaw. Tim called me an S.O.B. and I took a swipe at him with my carpet knife. I guess I forgot to duck.”

Lapses in judgment will happen and most clients (and employers) will understand as long as a pattern of behavior does not emerge. Real professionals don’t necessarily have the most technical skill or the lowest price; rather, they have a high standard of personal conduct and make fewer mental mistakes.