Would you try a Cherimoya or stick with a Mango?

cherimoya“Yuck” was all I heard when I said to a colleague the other day, “Let’s get some cherimoya*” as we were at Longos getting lunch.

She continued “I would rather get a mango.”

“So you’re not going to try anything new?” I asked.

“Oh dear, no, why? I enjoy mangoes.. though there may be times when I get a tart one, I’d still go with something I know. That’s when you dip it in Stevia.” <it was my turn to say ‘yuck’.>

At that moment, I remembered a recent experience with a contractor, let’s call him Eric A. He was going to replace my fridge, toilet, dishwasher, and stove at my home.  He promised to come by one Sunday with every equipment along with a couple of his guys to help with the installation. He asked for a deposit which I gladly provided thinking he’d do a great job. On that Sunday, he texted me saying that he’d be late since one of his guys was running late. That was fine, I thought. Then he came by exactly at that later time he promised but sans help nor equipment saying he didn’t get the equipment because it was not up to par to what he expected so he unilaterally instead decided to come in at 2pm the next day. He didn’t come in that 2nd day. He did this again three times later. I’m now tied to the advance I gave and I had two choices:

  1. Just get my money back and find another contractor to do the work
  2. Agree to the fourth time delay though grudgingly because I really don’t have time to look for another contractor

Mango with section on a white backgroundA bit more background: He was the one who took care of installing my wooden floors, washer and dryer, replaced some walls, painted the whole place at a previous engagement, and at that time, it took 8 weeks longer than expected for him to get the work done. There was a lot of work needed to be done and I was away from home so it didn’t really bother me that month.. at that time.

PLUS at each encounter that he informed me of a delay, he seemed to have a credible reason for being late or not completing what he promised. Lack of wood at Home Depot, wrong appliance choice, wrong paint colour, etc. I wanted to provide leeway as the work that was done, when it was done, was actually quite good. So quality persuaded me from pulling the plug halfway through the work.

Months passed and now I needed to get this new work done. In hindsight, I would have had more choices and shouldn’t have called him for assistance in the first place but I also knew that getting a new contractor means going  through the process of interviewing, checking references, getting samples of work done, etc. and this time around I was busier than last time and didn’t have a couple of hours (sometimes days) available ..so I went with whom I know though I tried to be ready for a potential deflation of expectation due to anticipated delays. I wasn’t ready for it after all.

Getting that tart taste in my mouth is not fun and though one would try to stick it in Stevia, as my friend suggested, I was still having a bad aftertaste.  I know you’ve had a similar experience as well. So what would you have done? Find another contractor? Go through the long process just to get to trust someone? Has trust been lost with this one that I should have pulled him from the work and wait until I get to having more time and find another contractor and start building trust with that one?

Similarly, this is one the challenges of leaders. As a leader, when do you try a cherimoya instead of just the mangoes.

*related terms "sweet sop," "sugar apple," or "atis" to my Filipino friends

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