Courtesy, professionalism wins in the end.
“We had not been paid for a project we’d completed. When you include the change orders, the job was in excess of one million dollars. Our substantial completion date had been changed, pushed back twice, and required two change orders for the contract extension. We had been waiting for over two months for the final approval of several hundred thousand dollars in change orders. We, of course, had already incurred all the equipment use, permitting, labor, and material costs.
“I was frustrated, feeling the pressure to close out the job. Our relationship with this million-dollar client was at the point where it might begin to deteriorate when we finally received the approved change order. “When I reviewed the change order approval email for accuracy, there was a big mistake. I noticed documentation and emails from another contractor embedded in the change order. Rather than replying to everyone on the email and identifying the client’s mistake in a public forum, I responded to just the project manager to have him review the document and correct it for accuracy. The issue was addressed at their end, and they resent the revised change order. They apologized for the oversite and thanked me for being thorough.
“The lesson I learned from this experience is the importance of being accurate, and that it’s just as important to be professional in my deportment, even if I might have justification for trying to get even.
“The action I call you to take is always remember to praise in public, and when needed, correct in private. Never put critical feedback in a public email.
“The benefit you will gain is people will respect you for your professionalism and your willingness to exhibit discretion.”
Remarkable story! Don’t overlook the context. Emily had the “right” to be a little upset with the client who was behind – way behind – on their remittances. In her position she is responsible to her owner to receive timely payment for work performed. She could’ve been snooty and let everyone on the email chain see the mistake within the email. Instead, she took the high road, she led from high ideals (Leadership Principle #1). This makes her a winner. She didn’t look like a snot-nosed beginner. Today, be sure you are leading from high ideals. You will be respected and admired.
Emails have a second life.
Be sure yours are ones you can be proud of.