Tuesday, March 31, 2009

“M” is Fore Motivation: How Cultivating Marketing Talent is Like Training Golfers

I am not a human resources professional. I am a marketing and account management professional with experience in managing and being managed, as well as a recreational golfer. As I researched this post on attracting and retaining marketing talent, a number of golf-related analogies came to mind.

1) An excellent drive off the tee is great. But the short game is equally as important as the long. Seek marketers who will have a strong big-picture view and will be able to contribute to strategy, but also the ability to focus and execute on these good ideas. The best talents will help your business thrive today and continue to break new ground tomorrow.

2) Each golf student requires coaching in different areas in order to improve his/her game. Therefore, lessons are typically tailored to the individual, course, and handicap. Apply situational leadership, selecting your leadership style to suit each situation and employee.

3) Coaches at a tournament know to be silent while golfers tee off. At this point, it is up to the golfer to apply what s/he has learned. Do not micromanage. It is damaging to both the manager and the employee, and is a leading cause of attrition among talented employees. There are a number of books, articles and blog posts dedicated to this topic. Instead, focus proactively on the hiring and onboarding process to ensure that you attract and cultivate key talent.

4) Following a lesson, the golf instructor will often ask the student to watch his/her practice round on DVD. Usually, the student can point out his/her errors and make the necessary correction, asking questions of the instructor when needed. Involve employees as you deliver feedback and allow them to be part of the solution. Provide facts and examples rather than generalizations, and keep your mind open to alternate points of view.

5) After a successful putt, onlookers clap for a job well done. Don’t forget to praise excellent performance.

If this all seems like common sense to you, congratulations. Not only are you on track for successful management of marketing talent; you also have potential as a weekend golf coach. Enjoy the round.

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