You can change the course of someone’s life with well-timed, encouraging feedback.
Dan, Project Manager, for a large General Contractor in Salem, Oregon, told Session 3b of Turbo’s Leadership Development Lab (LDL):
“In the spring of 2010, my wife and I were at home in Canby, Oregon with our two sons eating dinner and discussing baseball tryouts from the week before. We had been involved with youth sports since our boys were old enough to play and I had assisted coaching at some level when time allowed.
“In years past we would receive a phone call from the coach to tell us what team our son had been selected to play on. When the call came, the head of the youth program told me there weren’t enough coaches for the teams at my oldest son, Cole’s, level, then he asked if I wanted to coach. At first I said “no, I am too busy to make that full time commitment.” He said if I didn’t, he was afraid there wouldn’t be any one to coach Cole’s team. I asked Matt, another dad, if we could split coaching duties and he agreed. As part of our responsibilities, we had to “draft” our team. One of the boys, Nick, we considered drafting was known to be a good baseball player, but had a little attitude problem. We decided to go ahead and select Nick for our team.
“As the season progressed there were a few problems, such as tardiness to practice, some attitude, and doing what he thought was best during games, not what was best for the team. Nick seemed to respond to the coaching that Matt and I provided, whether it was reprimanding him or complimenting him, he just liked the attention. I noticed during the season he didn’t have family show up very often to watch his games. I thought this might be the reason for his behavior. The more positive reinforcement Nick received, the harder he tried and the less he acted out.
“Although I only coached Nick for one year, I saw him often as he and my son played on the same teams through youth sports. He was respectful and always referred to me as “Coach Dan.” A few times in high school he texted me to see if I had watched him play football or had seen him at the last baseball game. Nick eventually quit playing baseball and focused on football and wrestling. I remember seeing Nick working out by himself, running stairs, and sprinting to prepare for the upcoming season. I told him how impressed I was with his work ethic and proud of the man he had become.
“At the awards ceremony during high school graduation, I was surprised to learn that Nick had received a wrestling scholarship at a local state college. As I walked out of the auditorium, I saw Nick in the parking lot, he made a point of walking over to shake my hand, give me a hug and ask if I saw that he won a scholarship. It made the little time that I had invested in youth coaching very rewarding. The lesson I learned from this experience is a little encouragement goes a long way. I can hit a “home run” with my team by providing coaching, encouragement, and praise.
“The action I call you to take is give the deserved attention, praise, coaching, and encouragement to those with attitude challenges on your team.
“The benefit you will gain is the joy and purpose that comes from building people and making them successful.”