Brad Feld

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Celebrate Your Victories

Apr 05, 2009
Category Management

Q109 is over.  The numbers are starting to roll in.  After all the gloom and doom at the end of 2008, I’m very pleased with the performance of most of the companies in our portfolio.  As I mentioned the other day, some struggled, but many met or exceeded their Q109 plans, and several of them destroyed them (sandbaggers, how I love thee.)

There is nothing easy about operating a young company in any environment.  It’s especially difficult in a downturn (or a recession, or whatever you want to call this.)  If you haven’t managed to turn off TV news, stop reading the newspaper, and are still listening to NPR instead of the XM Chill station in the morning, you are likely continuing to get whipped around emotionally.  So are the people in your company that are listening to all this crap every day.

So – do something that is always important to do, but even more so in a downturn.  Overcommunicate.  Especially your victories.  Celebrate them.  If you made your Q1 plan, make sure everyone in the company knows it.  While it was likely a team effort, there were probably a few people that clearly went above and beyond in the quarter.  Highlight them – not to the detriment of everyone else – but as a rallying cry for everyone for Q2.  Make sure everyone in your company (and your partners, and your customers, and anyone else that matters) knows what worked and – as importantly – why it worked.

There’s an old adage that contrasts positive and negative news.  The premise is that a unit of positive news is worth less than the cost of a unit of negative news.  For example, consider the performance of the DJIA every day at the close of the market.  Now, assign +1 of “emotion” to every day it is up and –5 of “emotion” to every day that it is down.  Over the approximately 250 days per year that the stock market is open, assume the DJIA is up 125 days (+125), down 125 days (-625), and ends the year flat.  Even though the DJIA is unchanged for the year, you have 500 units of negative “emotion”.  Sucks, doesn’t it.  Didn’t I say earlier you should stop watching TV news (that includes looking at the stock market.)

Now, apply this to your company.  Everyone is getting hit all over the place with negative sentiment.  When you have it, give them some positive. Remember that you need a lot more positive to counteract the negative.  This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be front and center with the negative – your team expects to hear the good and the bad.  Just don’t forget to celebrate the victories.