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Issue 368 - Constant Feedback Creates Constant Improvement (Don Shula Part Four)

Woodens Wisdom
Wooden's Wisdom - Volume 9 Issue 368
Craig Impelman Speaking |  Championship Coaches |  Champion's Leadership Library Login



Don Shula led the Miami Dolphins to two Super Bowl victories and the only perfect season in the history of the National Football League. He led his teams to six Super Bowls. He had only two losing seasons in his 33-year career as a head coach in the NFL (1963-1995) Shula holds the NFL record for most career wins as a head coach with 347.
Shula's results were consistent because he gave his players constant feedback focused on their performance and unaltered by his mood. In his book with Ken Blanchard: The Little Book of Coaching, Shula discusses his definition of consistency:
"Most people have the wrong idea about consistency. They think it means behaving the same way all the time. If you praise people and are nice to them when they're performing well and also when they are behaving poorly, that's inconsistent. Your players need to be able to count on your consistency. What we're talking about here is a specific kind of consistency—a consistency in responding to people's performance.
In the typical organization, the most frequent response people get to their performance is no response. A no-response consequence occurs when nothing is said or done following the action. Good actions that receive no recognition at all are apt to be discarded eventually; bad actions will continue unchanged. Good coaching means being present, on the spot, constantly giving appropriate feedback on your players' performance.
My philosophy is that there are no minor mistakes. Mistakes cannot be tolerated, they should be redirected. When redirection occurs, performance is stopped, and people's efforts are rechanneled to do correctly what they were doing incorrectly. If people are redirected to do something correctly, they are apt to continue doing it correctly. Redirection can be a powerful way to get people to refocus their behavior. Redirecting is the way to correct a mistake when an individual or team has not yet learned to do what you want you want them to do. If people make a mistake while they are learning and you yell at them or punish them, you'll only increase their anxiety and motivate them to avoid the punisher—you."
Recognizing good performance is an important part of my coaching. I like to recognize our players in front of their peers. My coaches and I will stop and give a player a pat on the back or recognize a great team effort on the spot, but we'll usually repeat the feedback at a team meeting to give our players full recognition. I believe in spreading praising's out so that every contributor receives attention. Good coaching doesn't mean telling everyone they're doing great. You want to support people when they're first learning, then gradually get more choosy about when you give them praise. I try to fit my feedback to a player's personality. Consistency is key, but within this philosophy, you have to use different approaches."
Coach Shula's players always knew what he thought about their performance. Do yours?

Yours in Coaching,
Craig Impelman




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Application Exercise



Tied Down

They tie you down,' a woman said,
Whose cheeks should have been flaming red
With shame to speak of children so.
'When babies come you cannot go
In search of pleasure with your friends,
And all your happy wandering ends.
The things you like you cannot do,
For babies make a slave of you.'

I looked at her and said: ''Tis true
That children make a slave of you,
And tie you down with many a knot,
But have you never thought to what
It is of happiness and pride
That little babies have you tied?
Do you not miss the greater joys
That come with little girls and boys?

'They tie you down to laughter rare,
To hours of smiles and hours of care,
To nights of watching and to fears;
Sometimes they tie you down to tears
And then repay you with a smile,
And make your trouble all worth while.
They tie you fast to chubby feet,
And cheeks of pink and kisses sweet.

'They fasten you with cords of love
To God divine, who reigns above.
They tie you, whereso'er you roam,
Unto the little place called home;
And over sea or railroad track
They tug at you to bring you back.
The happiest people in the town
Are those the babies have tied down.

'Oh, go your selfish way and free,
But hampered I would rather be,
Yes rather than a kingly crown
I would be, what you term, tied down;
Tied down to dancing eyes and charms,
Held fast by chubby, dimpled arms,
The fettered slave of girl and boy,
And win from them earth's finest joy.'

Edgar Allen Guest (1881-1959)






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