Many years ago I was just about to leave work for some much needed holidays when my boss called me and said he wanted to see me. In the words of Homer Simpson, “Doh!” I felt like a bank robber who had almost made his escape when the town Sheriff suddenly appears behind him and says, “Not so fast there.”

After finishing up everything I had to do, I made my way to see him. What ended up happening surprised me. My boss didn’t have any criticism for me or even a “good-point, bad-point” performance review, he simply wanted to meet with me before I went out of town to tell me I was doing a good job. He mentioned a few specific things he was pleased about and encouraged me to have a great vacation.

While the talk was very short it had a big impact on me. It changed the way I felt about leaving. Don’t get me wrong, I still looked forward to the holiday, but now it was less about escaping from work. It also made me feel good as I left because I was reminded that my efforts were making a difference.

Leadership Challenge
Take a minute with each one of your direct reports before they leave for holidays and do what my boss did for me; instead of giving them the generic “have a great holiday,” tell them something they’re doing well and what kind of difference their work is making. It will send them away on a high note.