Go Deep, Be
Courageous, Emerge a Winner!
Serving the Business and Professional
Community since 1983!
N. Elizabeth Fried, Ph.D.
Coaching Corner: Now in Session
May 1, 2012: Providing Positive Feedback
I was coaching Alex, president of a $100 million dollar
consumer products company. I typically develop a customized 360
feedback assessment for all executive coaching clients. I also have them
complete a behavioral styles and values survey. These
assessments form a baseline for creating their development plan.
Alex engaged me because he was struggling with his ability to lead
the company in the direction necessary to excel in their market.
He tended to be very demanding of himself, yet his
360 feedback assessment revealed
that he was "too nice" to other members of the team who were not carrying
their weight. He also didn't regularly let those who were doing a good
job know that they were doing well or give them much feedback at all for that
matter. Alex admitted he had difficulty
confronting poor performance, but thought he had been doing a good job of
regularly providing positive feedback.
First we addressed providing positive feedback. I
asked him how often he thought he gave positive feedback. "Several times
a day...whenever I see it," he assured me.
"Let's test that," I responded. "I'd like to request
that you take 5 pennies and put them in your left pocket. Each time, you
recognize an employee for doing something right and offer them positive
feedback, you will transfer that penny to the other pocket. At the end
of the day, see if you have been able to transfer all the coins. Are you
willing to do that?"
Alex smiled and said, "Sure."
This may seem like a silly exercise, but Alex found it
quite revealing. When I asked him how it went, he said, "I guess I
thought I was doing it more than I really was. What was really happening
is that I was thinking it in my head, but it never came out of my
mouth. This became clear at 3 PM one afternoon as I stuck my hand in my pocket
and I still had all 5 pennies left. I realized that I can get so focused
on the activities of the day, that I sometimes forget the people involved.
This exercise has made me very aware of the need to be more conscious of
I smiled and said, "It's a good reminder. How long do you
think you need to keep the pennies in your pocket?"
"For as long as it takes until this becomes so natural, I
don't even have to think about it," he said with a twinkle in his eye.
Alex is not unusual. We often think we are doing
things, but we just aren't. The first step is awareness. Try this
penny exercise and see how you are doing.
In our next issue, we'll discover how Alex dealt with
providing constructive feedback.
For additional one to two-minute sessions on other topics, go to the
Coaching Corner Archive.