No Group Hugs Required

By Pamela A. Scott

Recently our kids, 20 and 22, ran their first half-marathon, a great accomplishment for anyone, but especially so for these two non-runners. They set their goal. They trained. They even cleaned up their eating habits. And they crossed the finish line.

“One thing that really helped was all the people cheering us along the way,” my son said. “All that encouragement really helped us keep going.”

So easy to give. Too seldom done.

This past week one client was bemoaning how seldom people in his company give “atta-boys” to staff. He included himself in that group—giving praise and positive feedback doesn’t come naturally to him.

Nor is it natural for lots of folks in this business.

We all like to be told we are doing a good job So, why don’t we say “well done,” “good job,” “thanks for your efforts” more often? It just takes a minute and costs nothing.


A speaker from Vistage, an international CEO organization, shared this great exercise to help CEOs and others remember to give praise daily. I wish I could remember his name, so I could give him credit.

10 Pennies Exercise

Start out each morning with 10 pennies in your left pocket. The goal is to move the 10 pennies to your right pocket by the end of the day. You move a penny each time you praise someone. That’s all there is to it.

It sounds so simple, but everyone I know who has tried the exercise struggled with it. I’ve had a few clients try it with just five pennies and still not succeed.

Here are a few phrases to help you move those pennies.

“I appreciate your work on ….”

“You handled that situation well.”

“Good job on the . . .”

“Thanks for your hard work.”

“The client likes working with you.”

Or simply, “Thank you.”


A few folks out there will respond to this with “Why do I need to tell them they’ve done a good job? That’s what I pay them for.” That’s true, but get over it.

Human beings like to be valued for their contributions. Particularly in this tight labor market, you need to tell them you appreciate them. Just give ‘em an “atta-boy” and move a penny.

No group hugs required.

© Pamela A. Scott, Armstrong Scott Inc.

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