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  • Writer's pictureBill Holmes

You don’t know what “good” looks like until you see it! Part 1

management, project, program, portfolio
Providing candid feedback is an important part of any job!

“Mediocrity will never do. You are capable of something better.” Gordon B. Hinckley

“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.” Martin Luther King Jr.

I was hired by my current employer 29 years ago this month. I was hired as a field technician, and when I accepted the job I had no idea what it actually entailed. Even though the job paid significantly less than what I was already earning, I felt it had excellent upside potential.

When you are hired by my organization, you are a “probationary” employee for the first year with very limited job protection. On January 11, 1991, I drove to Atlanta where I spent two weeks being introduced to my new job. After that I was sent to 3 months of training in Winston Salem, North Carolina. After completing all the training, I returned to Augusta Georgia to begin my new career.

I was assigned two “coaches” who had the responsibility to convert my classroom knowledge into action on the job. They were also supposed to provide me with direction and feedback. Six months into the job we sat down for my mid-year review. I wasn’t worried about it as I had only had positive feedback and felt I was at least as competent as my newly hired peers.

The local manager was an intimidating man from east Texas. He always wore cowboy boots and could often be seen sitting in his office with his boots on the desk reviewing paperwork. On this particular day he was sitting at the opposite end of the table from me, and my two coaches were on either side. They began by telling me I was coming along, but that there were some things I needed to focus on. I would later come to call this an “I’m OK, you’re OK” review…

I have seen this same review conducted many times at many levels over the course of my career.

As they were speaking, I noticed that the manager was getting angrier by the minute. Eventually he stood up and slammed his hand on the table. He pointed at me and said “I have no idea what these two are talking about! Your work is awful! If it looks like this in 6 months, you are gone!”. He then walked out of the room slamming the door behind him.

I was stunned! I looked at my two coaches for guidance. The both looked intently at the papers in front of them and one of them finally said, “Well, you heard him!”. And they both got up and walked out!

I sat there for a few minutes gathering my thoughts. I was simultaneously horrified at receiving such negative feedback (I had quit my other job for this!) and angry that I was hearing this for the first time.

I decided that I needed to address the issue head on. As a side note, that has proven to be a good tactic for both my personal and professional life.

I took a couple of deep breaths and walked into the managers office to discuss his feedback.

To be continued…


I just found out I am going to be a grandfather! Where did the time go?? It seems like just yesterday I was starting my first semester of college, and now my daughter is married, working on her master’s degree and having a baby! I am simultaneously worried that I don’t know how to be a good grandfather and excited to give it a try! Wish me luck!


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