So, tell me what your weaknesses are...

I would have no difficulty in naming a weakness at an interview.  You know the one – “tell me your strengths”, “tell me your weaknesses”.  We all scramble around attempting to turn our positive traits into self-deprecating weaknesses.

I don’t have to think too hard – my greatest weakness is the inability to wait!  I hate waiting.  Whether it be at the check-out in the supermarket (it’s why I shop on-line!) or waiting for a supplier to get back with a price for some work.

BUT!  And it is a huge but…if I am told how long I have to wait then I absolutely don’t have a problem at all.  It’s one of the reasons, here at Totem, we always aim to give a deadline and deliver before it’s reached.

A classic example, for me, would be – I contact a supplier, give them details of job I would like completing and they end by saying they will get back to me as soon as possible.  My ‘as soon as possible’ would be a call back or e-mail within an hour.  However, that isn’t everyone’s definition of ‘as soon as possible’.

Maybe there should be a specific time allotted on our clocks and watches that, instead of say ‘4:30 p.m.’, is ‘ASAP’.  This would narrow down the options of a reply time, we would then just have to negotiate a reply date!

When we communicate with our customers we always tell them when they can expect to receive the information that is the focus of the discussion.  So if we promise a report, proposal or meeting feedback by Tuesday close of play, we would endeavour to deliver it by no later than Tuesday lunch-time, if not Monday end of day.

I recently made a purchase on-line with a well-known department store which is ‘never knowingly undersold’ and I was advised my delivery would be in 3-5 days.  In my head, I made a mental note of 5 working days from then.  So imagine my delight when it arrived on day 2!

So back to the supplier who is coming back to me ‘ASAP’, by the time I heard from them again – over a week later – I had already sourced another provider and placed my order. 

By making me wait for an unspecified period of time that particular supplier lost my business and future recommendations. 

All this can be summed up quite neatly in the words of Business Guru Tom  Peters -  “Formula for success: Under promise and over deliver.”