The hidden potential of year-end messages

As we approach the end of 2017, when leaders are pondering (or should be pondering) their year-end messages to their teams, let’s not miss an opportunity: the deep potential and power that’s waiting to be harnessed in those communications.

It’s easy (and no crime) to quickly write a brief note of thanks and email it out to the organization. But a great year-end communication can give employees exactly what they need—whether that’s a big thank-you for the year behind or an urgent energy-boost for the year ahead; whether it’s aligning to a new direction or reinforcing the current path with new insights.

(This applies whether you’re sending an email, posting a video, or standing on stage. It applies whether you’re reaching out to a hundred thousand employees or a half dozen.)

While delivering on the immediate need or opportunity, the strongest messages can also provide context to help employees better understand (and remember) the group’s priorities. How do goals 1, 2 and 3 fuel one another? How will Team A help Team B deliver more than either team ever dreamed? What was your biggest worry in the year behind and your greatest hope for the year ahead—and what can those insights teach us? What did Susan or Bob in customer support do last year (with little fanfare) that opened up a surprising new market for us in the year ahead?

There’s sometimes a stretch goal, too: to use the year-end (or new-year) message to establish a stronger messaging foundation—a powerful new story—that leaders can reinforce through the entire year ahead.

So whether you lead a global organization or manage a small team, consider the hidden power, the enormous potential, of your year-end message. Consider what your employees most need from you right now, or what you’re most asking of them in the year ahead. (For bonus insights, ask yourself what message you want to be able to write a year from now.) Then make the most of your year-end message. You’ll focus and energize your teams, remind them why all the hard work is worth it, and strengthen your business momentum.

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