The Difference Between Coaching Rookies and Veterans

By Liz Wiseman

Originally Published March 2nd, 2015 on the Harvard Business Review.

"After years of playing at the top of his game, Tiger Woods hit a rough patch, struggling to win major tournaments. In February 2015, he pulled out of the Honda Classic, declaring his play "not tournament-ready.” Paul Azinger, ESPN sports analyst, claimed that Woods had become mechanical and “over-engineered himself out of being great.” The commentators suggested that Woods didn’t need learning; he needed un-learning.

Depending on where a professional athlete is in his career — a rookie new to the game, a star at the peak of his career, or a seasoned player, like Woods, who is struggling to get back on track — he requires very different coaching. The same is true in business.

Experienced professionals have deep knowledge, credibility, and confidence. But their knowledge can interfere with their learning. They can miss important shifts in the market simply because the telltale signs don’t fit nicely within their models. Having seen the patterns, they can easily overlook errors or dismiss aberrant results. They also receive little feedback because they’re performing relatively well and others assume they’ll figure out how to improve the less-than-effective portions of their work on their own."

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