Yesterday, while traveling, I received this email from my 20 year old son Parker . . .
Just something funny I wanted to say
I am currently working on printing cds with your face on them. After the first one I noticed what I believed to be a small blue smudge on your shirt and I thought it was something wrong with the printer. So I ran the printer in brush cleaning mode to fix it. I printed again and that smudge was still there, so I replaced one of the ink cartridges and ran the brush cleaning again. I printed a third time and still the small smudge was there, I then looked a little closer and realize[d] what I thought was a blue smudge was actually the Polo logo on your shirt.
Love you Dad
First, some context : Parker, in his last week before returning for his junior year of college, is doing some projects for our company, including burning and printing a short run of CDs for shipment.
When I received the email, it made me smile, which I think was Parker’s intention. And after I read it, I realized there was a huge coaching lesson in his words. Actually, the lesson is less in his words than in the multiple ways his message could be interpreted by others (i.e. a manager or supervisor).
Option 1: The employee is reaching out to build a relationship by sharing the story – and is comfortable enough to share some missteps.
Option 2: The employee can be lauded for noticing something on the picture and taking the time to make sure all was well, before potentially causing re-work and poor quality product.
Option 3: The employee, after noticing the potential problem, investigated further before cleaning and reprinting – that work wasn’t necessary in the end and was a waste of time. It would have been better for the person to look more carefully (which they eventually did) before doing the extra work.
There is at least some truth in each statement, and they aren’t mutually exclusive. Yet, as a leader and coach, the option that you notice and on which you choose to focus will have everything to do with the coaching or feedback you give to the employee, won’t it?
Same behavior, same productivity, and same results; different feedback. And the difference in the feedback is all about you as the coach and what you see.
So the questions worth considering today are:
What do you see?
And what feedback would you give?