Two Proven Approaches to Catching People Doing Things Right

Chris Edmonds is the founder and CEO of the Purposeful Culture Group, which he launched after a 15-year career leading and managing teams.

During a session with a culture change client, the organization’s president had an epiphany: “For 30 years I thought my job was to manage processes and results. This culture change journey has helped me redefine my job – to manage people’s energy.” To deliver results, no matter the human costs, focuses on what people are doing wrong. Instead, leaders need to manage by catching people doing things right.


  • A supervisor transformed his team from the worst performing to the best by clarifying performance expectations, monitoring performance daily, and frequently praising workers. Then, while driving to work, he would decide what he was going to look for – clean and safe workspaces, or efficiency, etc. When he saw this demonstrated, he’d offer the team member/group pizza, ice cream, or movie tickets – a “spontaneous” action that served to improve performance and commitment of all.

“…leaders need to manage by catching people doing things right.”


  • Jerry Nutter was the CEO of a large full-facility YMCA. Staff were doing great things daily that he’d miss if he was tied to his desk. So, he’d put six pennies in a pocket and tour the facility, looking for people doing things right. When he found one, he’d pull them aside and praise them. As he left, he’d take a penny from one pocket and move it to the other side, continuing until he’d delivered six praisings. Jerry’s staff genuinely felt trusted, respected, and honored.


Your staff do a great number of things right every day. Stop and notice! You will enjoy better performance and better relationships when you catch people doing things right.

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