Thursday, March 8, 2012

The value in delivering good news

Yesterday started out pretty lousy. My kids were all bent of shape because the cable box wasn’t working and they couldn’t watch their morning cartoons with their breakfast. (Thinking back to when I was 3 and 5, I would have been out of whack too.) So I spent more than an hour on the phone with AT&T’s customer service, which is not how I intended to spend my morning. Needless to say, I was in a pretty sour mood when I got to the office.

That sour mood lasted until the mail came at 11:30. Yesterday’s mail included an opinion and order granting summary judgment in my client’s favor in a discrimination and retaliation case. Sadly, the opportunities to deliver really good news to a client are seldom. Hearing the elation in my client’s voice when I told him that he had been vindicated in his decision to terminate an employee is what makes this job worthwhile.

I am not telling this story to toot my own horn. I’m always proud of the work I do for clients, and whether a court grants or denies a summary judgment motion is out of my control. Instead, I tell this story to focus on the part we can control—the ability to deliver really good news.

Think about the last time you pulled an employee aside to offer praise. I bet it’s been a little while. It’s not your fault. We’re all busy, and just don’t think about communications with employees unless it’s performance-related. We get bogged down in the bad and ignore the good.

Today, I want you to take a minute to offer a deserving employee some good news. Whether it’s a pat on the back for a job well done, or some praise for going the extra mile on a project, or something else entirely, take a minute to brighten someone’s day. Then, report back on the value you found in the experience.