Did You Know: Golf is a Lot Like Employee Engagement? (Part 1)

This weekend, I spent time watching the U.S. Open Golf Tournament. It featured 86 of the best golfers in the world playing a challenging course under somewhat adverse conditions. As I was watching, it brought to mind several parallels between golf and employee engagement or labor-management cooperation.

Prepared for the Unexpected –  The tournament was plagued with bad weather during 3 of the 4 days.  Golfers had to make adjustments, some as simple as wearing a second glove, to more significant changes in club and shot selection. They were prepared to play, even under poor conditions.

Labor-Management and employee engagement teams must also be prepared for changing conditions and unexpected events. Changes in leadership on either side, upswings or downturns in the business, or unexpected problems must not be allowed to derail the process. Teams need to realize their conditions will not always be perfect and be ready to deal with them. Clearly defined operating procedures that are planned in advance will help with this. Still, the golfer’s shots or the team efforts may not go as expected, so we need to:

Know What to do When Things Go Wrong – The most meticulously planned shot can still end up in the bunker. Golfers are prepared for how to handle bad positions, and do not let them destroy their game. They are recognized as part of playing golf. They learn from their experiences to better their games in the future.

Teams may also see their efforts go awry. Perhaps the solution they developed does not work as anticipated. They need to be prepared for this by recognizing the need to carefully diagnose the problems on which they work to determine the root causes, then work carefully to examine multiple options for resolving them. Golfers and teams develop these skills through:

Practice – Professional golfers continuously practice and work on their games. They strive to develop their swing to produce a consistent, repeatable outcome. They learn when and how to best play any situation before it happens.

Teams also need to develop their skills. They can do this through training to help them learn the tools of effective problem solving, communications, and how to work together. They then need to use these tools under all circumstances to produce the same type of consistent, repeatable outcomes. To accomplish this, both golfers and teams should:

Use A Coach – Professional golfers hire swing coaches and others to help them improve their game. Teams can also benefit from coaching to help keep them on track and teach them new skills as they are needed. They still need to remember:

You May Hit from Either Side of the Ball – While most golfers are right-handed, Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, and others play left-handed. They avoided the suggestion that they are doing it wrong and have gone on to great success.

In labor-management teams, we need to remember there are good people on both sides of the table. They have good ideas and are dedicated to the success of the organization. We need to listen to them and work together to be successful.


Those are just a few of the ways playing golf is like being part of a labor-management or employee engagement team. In an upcoming blog we will consider some additional similarities. In the meantime, remember that while CALMC might not be able to help with your golf game, we can work with you to develop or improve on your teamwork and engagement strategies.

About CALMC Blog

Columbus Area Labor-Management Committee is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to involving employers and employees to preserve jobs, resolve workplace issues, and promote labor-management cooperation. Visit our website at http://calmc.org
This entry was posted in Change Management, Employee Engagement, Employee Involvement, Labor-Management Committees, Labor-Management Cooperation, Managing Change, Problem Solving, Teamwork and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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