I had an upcoming trade show and somehow I got sucked into “booth duty” — standing for hours on a cement floor trying to interest walker bys in your product. With just four days left before the big show, I now realized that I had no material to hand out that would describe the product that I’m responsible for. I quickly pulled together a 1-page handout and then I ran smack dab into the company’s legal and layout teams. These two groups are never easy to work with nor do they move quickly (“you want it when?”); however, things were even worse because they were involved in a major company marketing material overhaul and had even less time than normal to deal with requests.
I tracked down a technical material expert, we’ll call her Carole, and asked for her help. She started by letting me know that what I wanted to accomplish in such a short time was probably impossible, but she was will to give it a try. She made edits to the handout herself in order to get it to flow through the legal department easier, set up calls with the legal team and she worked with the layout police. In the end, it was through her efforts that on Friday at 5:00 pm I got a final, approved copy that could be handed out at the show — an internal company record if ever there was one.
For most IT departments, the story would normally stop here. However, I was so impressed with Carole’s efforts when I so clearly did not deserve her attention that I sat down over the weekend and wrote a thank you email to her boss. I explained what the situation was, what Carole had done, and why it meant a lot to the company. Here’s the amazing part: her boss shot me back a thanks for thanking her note. Then I got a thank you from Carole who had been congratulated by her boss. Finally, I got a thank you note from Carole’s VP — clearly my original email had been forwarded up the chain of command. One simple thank you had accomplished a great deal.
So what’s to learn from all of this? Well first off, thank yous still count — none of us send enough of them and we all really should spend some time each day thanking those who help us to get our work done. Next, when you do send a thank you, be sure to include enough info so that the person who is receiving it can understand the whole story and realize what was done. Finally, when trying to keep an IT team or department motivated, sometimes the best strategy might be to get folks one the outside to send a note reminding everyone that they really are doing a good job!