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How to Establish the Perfect Mix of Hugging and Prodding


How to Establish the Perfect Mix of Hugging and Prodding

Balancing and considering hugging versus prodding can be a valuable tool in your management efforts. Hugging and support are critical for involvement, confidence and the motivation to keep trying. Prodding and practice are necessary to set expectations, learn technical skills, expertise and experience. Balancing the two can be critical to success. But how do you establish the perfect mix of hugging and prodding?

This article suggests some ways to incorporate this concept.

Broadening our perspective and Avoiding Confirmation Bias  

  • Start out with Understanding the Culture and Participants. For example, I tend to be left brain and more technical. Others are more right brain and supportive. You need both. Organizations need hugs, along with the right tools. Great sports coaches understand this issue with motivational techniques accompanied by hard work.
  • Confirmation Bias and Alternative Approaches. Age, status, education, and reputation of the listener and communicator can all dramatically affect our perceptions. This is one example of what is referred to as, Confirmation Bias, where we are biased against alternative approaches. Currently, I am coaching high school students developing entrepreneurial programs. They are doing incredible work but are frequently caught up in their own world. For example, most of their target audiences are is in their own age categories and local, rather than more global. Try enlisting the help of cultural experts to ensure you are relating to every potential market.


  • I argue that Tom Peters,” Management by Walking Around” is about the best management tool around for mitigating the Hug or Prod dilemma. It creates a relaxed atmosphere, allows one to understand the context of an issue or background of the individual. A corollary of that tool is going to a subordinate’s office instead of demanding they come to yours, informal meetings with customers, informal lunches or social events, etc.
  • Ignoring Environmental Issues Can Ruin Office Culture. Hierarchical structures and formal office structures are archaic and have been proven to affect problem-solving. In contrast, companies like Google and Facebook have created more open, equal office spaces that encourage cooperation and collaboration, rather than intimidation.
  • Open Communication with Organizations and Individuals are Way More Effective. Practices like “need to know,” are simply obsolete. The more people know, the more effective they can be. The lower communication is down the line, the more effective it is. Google’s president gives examples and advocates discussing mistakes, as well as, successes in helping to “hug” staff towards innovation.

In summary, Support and hugging are essential to Innovation and success. We need the constant support to create the confidence necessary to succeed. We also need reality to provide the prodding through analysis, expertise and execution. The timing and nature of the mix can be difficult. In other words, be sure you consider how to balance hugging and prodding?

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