Bill Wood, CIO of bookstore chain Barnes & Noble, has always incorporated a formal mentoring and coaching program into his leadership style. "As I was getting started as a manager, there were people who poured themselves into me and helped me grow as a leader," says Wood, who joined Barnes & Noble as CIO in December 2015. "As a result, I have always had a ‘pay-it-forward’ attitude."
Wood knows that employees who have received negative feedback in the past can be reluctant to engage in mentoring, so he works hard to embed coaching and mentoring into his organization’s culture at all levels. "Some people are not comfortable with feedback, because they come from cultures where you only hear from your boss when you’ve done something wrong," says Wood. "But that won’t work in a coaching culture. Team members need to adopt a mindset that coaching is good for everyone. We clearly define the distinction between coaching, which is constructive feedback to help the individual develop as an individual contributor or leader, and progressive counseling to address gaps in performance — and ask that everyone keep an open mind to both types of feedback."
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