How I Train Chief Reminding Officers: Part I

Paul Stansik
4 min readAug 2, 2021


How feedback, recognition, and repetition can help you raise the bar and make things stick with your team.

Photo by Marcel Eberle on Unsplash

NOTE: This article is part of my series on the “Chief Reminding Officer,” a concept inspired by Pat Lencioni’s ideas in The Advantage. Part I of my series covers the role and mindset of the Chief Reminding Officer (CRO). This post introduces the training I use to help executives becomes CROs.

When you join a leadership team, part of your job gets easier. Your new gig comes with perks, including an official pardon from cold-calling prospects, writing code, and double-checking excel formulas. Congratulations. You now work on the business instead of in the business.

But don’t get too excited. Excelling at your job is now a lot harder. Your grade is now based on someone else’s homework. Yes, you get to build the plan. That’s the cool part. But making the plan happen — and the frustrating, tedious, cat-herding labor it requires — also falls on you. For most, this requires a new set of muscles. You’ve spent your career doing the work. Now, for the first time, you’re directing it. Funny. No one tells you more responsibility comes with less control.

There’s another career path out there that follows a similar arc: Professional sports. Many great athletes turn to coaching after their playing days are over. But many fail as coaches for a simple reason: The game is different when you’re standing on the sidelines. Literally banished from the field of play, coaches have only a limited set of tools to influence their team’s performance. But they don’t let this hold them back. Great coaches lead by influencing their team, keeping them focused, and yes, reminding them — over and over — of what it takes to win.

When I work with executives on building their Chief Reminding Officer toolkit, I start by asking them to think like coaches. We talk about the techniques and skills that all great coaches use. Then we focus on clarifying and practicing three coaching disciplines:

  • Feedback — Directing people to “do this, not that”
  • Recognition — Praising the right behaviors
  • Repetition — Sharing memorable cues that spur action

After working on these three tactics, people leave with a visceral, concrete understanding of what effective, focused coaching feels like. You can’t coach everything, I tell them. You have to pick your spots. Together we clarify and prioritize a short, powerful list of coaching opportunities and messages they can focus on.

Here’s the framework that forms the backbone of my training.

The framework is simple. That’s why it works. As author George Bernard Shaw said, “The biggest problem in communication is the illusion it’s taken place.” By clarifying and practicing these three techniques, we give executives a short, manage-able list they can use informally and “in the moment” with their teams. Communicating in this way — informally and spontaneously — is unnatural for many leaders. Formal opportunities — your town hall, your all-hands, or the employee newsletter — can seem more important because they’re more visible, and executives are often front-and-center. But these formal broadcasts only happen so often. The informal stuff — the little unscheduled opportunities to communicate with our team — is way more powerful. Taking advantage of coaching, recognizing, and reminding in the moment can make a huge difference in helping an idea, a behavior, or a strategy stick. When someone you’re connected with — someone you work with or for everyday — coaches you, praises you, or starts to repeat something, you take notice. Huh, you think. That seems important.

But there’s a problem. Informal communication is hard. Partly because it’s so easy to forget about. As the saying goes, “the unsure mind always says no.” If you’re not sure exactly what to say or how to say it, it’s easy for managers to let these little openings pass by. The hallway conversation, the 5 minutes at the start of a team meeting, or the million other moments scattered around your workday: These are all opportunities to coach, recognize and reinforce what matters with your team. Picking your spots in advance — and keeping the list short — is how you minimize uncertainty and improve the odds you’ll actually “go there” when the situation presents itself.

The three Chief Reminding Officer techniques I teach — feedback, recognition, and repetition — are related, but each has their own nuance. Each works best in a specific type of situation, and each requires a specific supporting technique to deliver it effectively. In the “Chief Reminding Officer” series of posts that I’ll release in the coming weeks, I’ll go deep on each of these three disciplines and how to deliver them. I’ll share the curriculum I use to help executives build coaching skills. And I’ll teach you how to think — and lead — like a Chief Reminding Officer.

→ Click here to read Part II



Paul Stansik

Partner at ParkerGale Capital. Lives in Chicago. Writes about sales, marketing, growth, and how to be a better leader. Views my own. Not investment advice.