Practice pays off.
Rory McIlroy's ride to immortality publicly entered a new phase
this week with the official announcement of his sponsorship deal
with Nike, reportedly worth over £20 million, whose equipment
and apparel he will exhibit beside Tiger Woods, Nike's first
To get as good as he clearly is McIlroys commitment to the game
began as a toddler. He was supported by his father and mother who
took on a third job as a cleaner to enable her son to get the
training as a junior which has now fabulously paid off. Applied
practice has made perfect, or at least close to it.
Practicing anything skill based, like golf, without training is
naïve. The fact that so many commercial managers are practicing the
skill of negotiation without training is alarming, and potentially
Here are three reasons why.
Practicing without training ingrains bad
habits. My children learned to ski at early ages. I had no
formal lessons till I was 48. They learned the fundamentals early
and well. I did not. They didn't pick up any bad habits. I did.
Instructors pushed them to move to more difficult slopes while
maintaining good form. I took my bad form from slope to slope. As
you would suppose, they are much better skiers than I am. While
they were taught correctly, I learned my skills willy-nilly. Worse,
I practiced my questionable skills over and over, ingraining them
Practice makes perfect only if done
correctly. Practicing for hours doesn't automatically
create skills. Say, for example, that, as a golfer, you go to the
driving range and practice by hitting hundreds of balls. You may
leave feeling you've done something to help you improve, but
possibly you will only have practiced whatever swing you came with
- good or bad. How about when you go to the range you take a more
deliberate approach. You draw a circle 20 feet in diameter, move
back a bit, and proceed to hit balls until 80% land in the circle.
Then you move farther back, take a different club, and do the same
thing. That is deliberate, focused, and productive practice.
Perfect practice makes perfect performance.
Practice with an expert who can inform best
procedure. All your staff are of course, negotiating from
the first day on the job. And from that day habits are being
formed. Attitudes are being created. Management practices begin to
coalesce. Would it not be in the organisation's and the
individuals' best interests to begin that process the moment
they're selected for a position? Who in your company can provide
that best practice?
Put the building blocks in play early, and they can certainly
pay in the long run.