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What leaders DO: communicate

by Miki Saxon

The old adage “praise in public and criticize in private” should be the guiding light for bosses looking to provide a year-end wrap-up of how the company (or any organization) did along with a rallying cry for the coming year.I’d like to share a superb example of this in the form of an email sent by the CEO of a small company with which I work that’s coming off a bit of a rocky year. Only the names (company and people) were changed for confidentiality.

From: Chuck Lorkin
Date: December 28, 2007 11:23:08 AM PST
To: All@QuikTap.com
Subject: What to expect in 2008

Hello Team QuikTap,

I am very proud of the effort you have all put in to ensure us moving forward during the past year. Every area of the company has experienced major improvements, but what stands out most are the accomplishments of the product development team (especially Jim with help from Geoff & Roger) in launching QuikTap Query Version 5. Through their work we have become one of the top three vendors in our market in look & feel and we are #1 in ease-of-use coupled with breadth of functionality and transaction processing power.

Several of you are asking how QuikTap will do in the worsening general economic climate. We are well positioned due to several factors, most of them resulting from our strategic decision to build the business without significant outside investment:

– QuikTap has a very low cost base and higher productivity per dollar than comparable software firms. Part of this is due to making our operations very efficient during our lean years of low sales.

– QuikTap’s products are positioned to have high functionality at a relatively low price – we are more affordable than our competitors. In an environment where corporations are spending less on IT, they will be more inclined to purchase software that delivers 80% of the functionality at 20% of the cost.

– QuikTap has a more efficient marketing infrastructure than our competitors. Each dollar used on marketing has a significantly higher return. According to our calculations, we have an advantage to our competitors of a factor of 10.

During this quarter we have augmented the sales team by hiring a Sales Manager (Sharon) and a new rep (Jerry). As a result, we expect 2008 to be a much stronger year in sales – both have previous experience with product marketing and sales of information capture products. Another noteworthy point, from a sales perspective, is that QuikTap is the best branded company in its field on the Internet. Craig has done exceptional work with online marketing, thinking innovatively and getting us to a first page position for all important search terms and with respect to social networking. This is bringing in leads and creates relationships that were previously outside our reach.

We also have an inchoate business development effort led by Tom who is collaborating with retailers and software vendors to increase our visibility and create partnerships.

Support response times are lower and greater satisfaction from customers is making it significantly easier for the sales team to interact with customers. The people in support keep on churning out solutions for our customers, in effect creating the basis for the company to leverage upon.

In 2008 I expect that the platform we have built during the past 18 months will begin to generate significant revenues. Having good marketing and sales teams, commencing business development and having good products to leverage in the market will move us into a leading position in our industry.

I am grateful that I have the opportunity to work with the team we have now and look forward to QuikTap growing by leaps and bounds in 2008.


How do you wrap up the year in your organization?

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4 Responses to “What leaders DO: communicate”
  1. MichaelNo Gravatar Says:

    I very much value the reiteration of the value of praising in public and holding the criticism for communication in private. I have a little reservation about it and it is that others may share a perception that an individual is not “pulling his or her weight”! It may be a case of inappropriate behaviour or some other manifestation that other colleagues are aware of and expect to see addressed. Addressing the matter in private can continue to cause annoyance and frustration amongst fellow exployees, unless, of course there is an immediate turnaround and clear evidence of corrected behaviour patterns on behalf of the errant one.
    Again, addressing inappropriate of inefficient behaviour in the group setting can be ineffective as those most conscientious feel they are being included in negative criticism and their preparedness to be efficient is not appreciated.

    I very much liked the positive content of the address to the troops and the personalisation of the very positive comments of increased commitment and productivity. I intend to take a lesson from it and put it into effect.

    I would be happy to have similar articles in my Blog: http://LeadorBeLed.blogspot.com
    Best wishes for the New Year.


  2. Miki SaxonNo Gravatar Says:

    There are no secrets in the workplace. People know when someone is “called on the carpet” just as they know when the manager ignores the problem.

    The cautionary point here it that the value of this kind of a wrap is in direct proportion to how strongly the manager holds his people’s trust and if he’s know for walking his talk. If it’s only done annually as some kind of rah-rah rally-the-troops effort it will be recognized as such and dismissed. People aren’t stupid (much as some leaders would like to believe otherwise).

  3. MichaelNo Gravatar Says:

    Thank you for the comment. Right on the button in my view, but thanks for sharing it. Communicaing, the good and the bad, the positive and negative of the working environment and within it, is the real strength of a vibrant organisation. A strong organisation can take it and make of it what it is worth. Well done.

  4. Miki SaxonNo Gravatar Says:


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