CJN 277 – Public Relations
PR Writing Tools – Assignment #1 – E-mail
Directions: On the next page you will se an e-mail from Neal Patterson, CEO of Cerner Corporation. Cerner Corporation is a Kansas City based medical software company. Patterson is famous for this e-mail flaming managers for employee work habits, now a prominent example used when discussing e-mail netiquette. On the day that the email was posted to Yahoo!, the company’s stock price fell by over 22% from a high of $1.5 billion USD.
For this assignment, assume that you are Vice President in charge of Corporate Communication of Cerner and that you are the person to whom Patterson sometimes turns for advice. Imagine that this e-mail has NOT gone out yet, but that Neal Patterson has sent you a copy that he intends to send out, and has asked you for your opinion of the e-mail. It is your job as to respond in an e-mail to him. You know that Neal Patterson is angry and volatile right now, so you have to be tactful, but at the same time, you also realize that the company’s reputation and stability might be threatened if your CEO does indeed send this message out in its current form. Write a response to him in which you suggest improvements to this e-mail. You need to be specific, not vague, so that he takes your suggestions seriously.
I am looking for three primary items:
1. How well do you impart the importance to Neal of not sending out that email
2. Do you provide easy to follow and constructive comments on how to revise/rewrite the email
3. Can you provide a rationale for why you chose the approach you used in corresponding with Neal
This assignment is worth 10 points and should be completed by the date stipulated in the syllabus. This should be e-mailed to me with a subject line that reads: “Patterson email assignment.”
Subject: MANAGEMENT DIRECTIVE: Week #10_01: Fix it or changes will be made
To the KC_based managers:
I have gone over the top. I have been making this point for over one year.
We are getting less than 40 hours of work from a large number of our KC-based EMPLOYEES. The parking lot is sparsely used at 8AM; likewise at 5PM. As managers — you either do not know what your EMPLOYEES are doing; or YOU do not CARE. You have created expectations on the work effort which allowed this to happen inside Cerner, creating a very unhealthy environment. In either case, you have a problem and you will fix it or I will replace you.
NEVER in my career have I allowed a team which worked for me to think they had a 40 hour job. I have allowed YOU to create a culture which is permitting this. NO LONGER.
At the end of next week, I am plan to implement the following:
1. Closing of Associate Center to EMPLOYEES from 7:30AM to 6:30PM.
2. Implementing a hiring freeze for all KC based positions. It will require Cabinet approval to hire someone into a KC based team. I chair our Cabinet.
3. Implementing a time clock system, requiring EMPLOYEES to ‘punch in’ and ‘punch out’ to work. Any unapproved absences will be charged to the EMPLOYEES vacation.
4. We passed a Stock Purchase Program, allowing for the EMPLOYEE to purchase Cerner stock at a 15% discount, at Friday’s BOD meeting. Hell will freeze over before this CEO implements ANOTHER EMPLOYEE benefit in this Culture.
5. Implement a 5% reduction of staff in KC.
6. I am tabling the promotions until I am convinced that the ones being promoted are the solution, not the problem. If you are the problem, pack you bags.
I think this parental type action SUCKS. However, what you are doing, as managers, with this company makes me SICK. It makes sick to have to write this directive.
I know I am painting with a broad brush and the majority of the KC based associates are hard working, committed to Cerner success and committed to transforming health care. I know the parking lot is not a great measurement for ‘effort’. I know that ‘results’ is what counts, not ‘effort’. But I am through with the debate.
We have a big vision. It will require a big effort. Too many in KC are not making the effort.
I want to hear from you. If you think I am wrong with any of this, please state your case. If you have some ideas on how to fix this problem, let me hear those. I am very curious how you think we got here. If you know team members who are the problem, let me know. Please include (copy) Kynda in all of your replies.
I STRONGLY suggest that you call some 7AM, 6PM and Saturday AM team meetings with the
EMPLOYEES who work directly for you. Discuss this serious issue with your team. I suggest that you call your first meeting — tonight. Something is going to change.
I am giving you two weeks to fix this. My measurement will be the parking lot: it should be substantially full at 7:30 AM and 6:30 PM. The pizza man should show up at 7:30 PM to feed the starving teams working late. The lot should be half full on Saturday mornings. We have a lot of work to do. If you do not have enough to keep your teams busy, let me know immediately.
Folks this is a management problem, not an EMPLOYEE problem. Congratulations, you are management. You have the responsibility for our EMPLOYEES. I will hold you accountable. You have allowed this to get to this state. You have two weeks. Tick, tock.
Chairman & Chief Executive Officer
Cerner Corporation www.cerner.com
2800 Rockcreek Parkway; Kansas City, Missouri 64117
“We Make Health Care Smarter”