We all know that feedback is really important to successful team dynamics and performance.     However, it can be tough to hear, especially when it isn’t all positive.

I remember when working for a high-energy Colonel (F-15 pilot, go figure) in the Saudi Arabia Division of International Affairs at the Pentagon.   After being there for about 3 months, I was starting to catch my stride living in DC (and the crazy commute), with two babies in the house, and a fairly demanding & unforgiving customer in the Royal Saudi Air Force; then I got called into the Boss’ office…

His feedback went something like this:   “Lucky (my callsign), I like what you are doing, but you seem to be the last one here and the first to leave; Nuts (Major, F-15E WSO) over there, is outperforming you.   Oh yea, and I need to teach you how to make coffee.. ”

My carefully articulated response:  “Sir, I don’t drink coffee”

Gruffly, he says:   “I didn’t ask you if you drank coffee…”

I still remember him explaining to add 4 heaping scoops of Folgers, then watched him demonstrate  … 1,2,3,4 and 5.

Anyway, I got the message.   DC commute or not; I needed to keep working hard, beat him in and stay later; and always add the extra scoop to whatever I did.     Shortly thereafter, I was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel two years early, and started drinking coffee.

The link below is exactly what he did (in his Colonel way).   He communicated (using Fighter Pilot metaphor, sarcasm, & ridicule) that I am part of the team, that he has high expectations for my work, and I need to add the extra (scoop) to make coffee right.

Cheers – Pierre