Trophies For Everyone and Saying Good Job: The Difference Between a Head Pat and Coaching…

It’s always a little surprising when you’re out in the world and find out many people have a fundamental issue with saying “good job.”

For some on the far end of the “I’m tired of sucking up to these damn millennials who got a trophy for using toilet paper in an anatomically correct way, ” saying “good job” is as hard for them as it was for Hancock.  Check out the video below (email subscribers click through for video) for a taste:

We get it right? Do your job. Don’t expect praise for doing your job. That’s what boomers and Gen X always heard growing up.

But having a blind spot to saying “good job” can rob you of an opportunity to be an effective coach for the people who report to you. Don’t say “good job” because you think someone needs to hear it, say “good job” so you can get more of the good performance you see.

Reasons to say “good job,” followed by specifics of what you really liked about what someone did:

1.  To get more of the same thing. Keep doing what your doing.

2.  Ramp it up and give me more of that. In fact, stop doing some of the things you’re doing and give me more of this thing…

3. Expand It. Good job. You can make it even better by adding this: <insert coaching>

4.  Franchise It. Good job. I like what you’re doing so much hear I need to you to tell others about it and train them how to do it.

Saying good job as a head pat sucks. No one has time for that. But, you have to see the opportunity to coach for more performance when you say good job, and like Jason Bateman in the clip above, teach people how to say it.

G.. G… G… ooooood. J… J… ob.

FOT Background Check

Kris Dunn
 Kris Dunn is Chief Human Resources Officer at Kinetix and a blogger at The HR Capitalist and the Founder and Executive Editor of Fistful of Talent. That makes him a career VP of HR, a blogger, a dad and a hoops junkie, the order of which changes based on his mood. Tweet him @kris_dunn. Oh, and in case you hadn't heard the good word, he's also jumped into the RPO game as part owner of a rising shop out of ATL, Kinetix. Not your mama's recruiting process outsourcing, that's for sure... check 'em out.


  1. Logan says:

    A bit of a tangent….but

    I never understand the criticism directed at millennials and younger generations for ‘getting a trophy’ for everything. They aren’t giving themselves trophies…they are receiving them from adults.

    I know it’s a metaphor (maybe). But people in a society that try to absolve themselves of the characteristics of that society are silly, especially when they are criticizing a younger generation that they raised.

    If you don’t like the way your kid acts, then change the way you reward/punish…don’t blame the generation and assign ambiguous blame to ‘society’, ‘kids these days’, technology (which you invented) or something in the water.

    If you think ‘kids these days’ are entitled, it’s probably your fault. Lest you be the parent with a child that’s not entitled…which millions of parents will likely claim.

    So in short…either own it or stop complaining about it.

  2. Kris Dunn
    Kris Dunn says:

    Hi Logan –

    Hope you know that I was reporting conventional wisdom on that generation. I think it’s so prevalent that we don’t say “good job” when we should – an overcorrection if you will.

    BTW – get off my lawn. ha.


  3. Logan says:

    Hi Kris,

    Definitely. That’s why I started with the note that I was going off on a tangent, referring to “I’m tired of sucking up to these damn millennials who got a trophy for using toilet paper in an anatomically correct way.”

    I think saying ‘good job’ is a great simple form of conditioning. I tell my dog ‘good boy’ when he pees on your lawn so he doesn’t pee on my carpet 😉


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