Fable Friday: Sometimes a kick in the butt is the best way to coach!

I know a woman who used to have a single-digit golf handicap. She loved the game and worked very hard to improve, wanting to be the best she could.  She told me this story about working with a golf professional many years ago. The pro had emphasized in her stance as she addressed the ball, what is known as “the athlete’s position,” in which you are fairly upright, with your weight on the balls of your feet, ready to move forward.  No doubt you’ve been taught this posture in golf, tennis, baseball and other sports. It’s sometimes called the “ready position.”

Gregory at Medtronic 10-2010 CroppedBut for some reason just after addressing the ball, she had a bad habit of sticking her butt out behind her, which would not allow her to “coil” properly in the backswing.  Time after time he would remind her in the stance, “C’mon, tuck those hips back in. Get in the ready position.” She knew what to do but would keep on doing it incorrectly.

One day during the lesson she did it once again, and instead of saying anything, this time the pro walked around behind her and gently but firmly gave her a good kick in the butt, which knocked her off balance as she didn’t have a solid stance.

Now let’s pause here for a moment while I ask you, as I always do, was this good coaching or bad coaching? A male golf pro kicks his female client?  You may be thinking, “He could get fired, even sued! Suppose she complained and told others what he did? This could hurt his reputation, and affect his ability to get new clients.”

Well, I wondered this too, as it seemed like an extraordinary approach. I asked her, “What was your reaction? What did you think of him kicking you like that?”

The answer I expected is right there for you in the first two sentences of this post.  She was a single-digit handicap golfer and was passionate about trying to improve, so this radical step by the coach had just the effect that was intended.

She said, “I never stuck my butt out again. I think I had tuned out those reminders and he got me to see I couldn’t stay balanced unless I had the right stance. I thought it was a great lesson.”

What the coach understood was that the golfer was very serious about improving, so much so that desire to improve far exceeded any humiliation she might have felt from being kicked in the butt.

What does this suggest for you as a coach in managing your team?  Putting aside the butt kick as a physical act which you’d better not do, how do you know how tough you can be with one of your team members?  One salesperson needs some hand-holding.  Another needs to learn basic skills.  And yes, some top performers occasionally need a figurative “kick in the butt.”

In my newsletter on Tuesday I’m going to give you the first step in finding out what coaching approach you should take, beginning with one critical question. Do you know what that question is? If you’re not on my newsletter list, there’s a sign-up link on this page and can read it on Tuesday.  Meanwhile…

Think Like Your Customer

About Gregory LaMothe
I teach people how to sell things. I own the company ActionSystems. Visit my website at www.actionsystemstraining.com.

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