Fix Your Divots

20 06 2013

We’ve finally arrived at the true golf season, for those both serious and casual golf fans out there. The sun is shining, the grass is green, the weather’s warm and your favorite summertime drink probably tastes just a little better when enjoyed during a great round of golf (or for those of us who never shoot a great round, any round of golf will do). 

I’ve always enjoyed golf. Sadly I have neither the time nor innate talent to ever be very good at it, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying it nevertheless. And one of the things I like about it is the many lessons, both personal and professional, that can be learned on the course. We know many of the personal lessons: be honest, play the ball where it lies, keep your own score, be respectful, etc. Dozens of analogies and direct correlations can be found.

I’d like to focus on one professional area that I think needs more attention these days. 

When you come out to the course for an early morning tee time, you will usually find it in immaculate condition. The fairways are meticulously mowed, the greens are smooth and fast, the sand raked and ready to ensnare wayward shots. The only thing the course asks of you is that you leave it no worse when you are finished with your round. That means you replace divots you create. You fix ball marks on the green. You rake the bunkers if you go in there. 

Sadly, both on and off the course, many people simply don’t seem willing to be bothered by these details. They take the attitude that they paid their fee, they can do what they want. Let the next group worry about it.

This is precisely the same attitude I’ve seen many times in the corporate world as well. One of the most accurate Dilbertism I’ve seen is the Seagull Manager. That describes a manager who flies in, makes a huge mess of everything and then takes off again. With the changed face of loyalty that I wrote about in the last entry, organizations have become revolving doors to new groups of people, from staff up to executive leadership. And so they’ve become more vulnerable to the individual or group who doesn’t think it’s their responsibility or duty to leave the organization no worse than they found it.

It’s an unfortunate, but wholly correctable, phenomenon. Pretend you’re the owner (both at the course and at work) and ask yourself if you’d want someone like you to fix their divots before they leave. I bet the answer’s a resounding yes.

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