The final round of the 92nd PGA Championship is being played as I begin to write this. Tiger Woods started the day tied for 31st place. Unless you've been living under a rock you probably know more than you want to know about Tiger's fall from grace. We all learned about Tiger's personal life, his wife, his two children, and a succession of other women. We've watched his performance on the golf course. Clearly, right now, he isn't the player he once was. Frankly, given what he has gone through I'd be amazed if he were. So what does all this have to do with corporate recruitment and the human resources space? It turns out that there are some lessons to learn here. Let's see what we can take away from Tiger's experience that may benefit us personally and the organizations where we work.
How things appear is not necessarily how they really are.
Things certainly looked great for Tiger. Beautiful wife and children, crazy amounts of income, playing a game he loves at the highest level, and everything that anyone could want. But behind all that was another life. Now consider the people you work with and especially consider the leaders of the organization. You think you know those people but do you really? Sometimes things are revealed about the people you work with that shock you. Mostly things are not revealed but that doesn't mean they aren't still there. Consider if what you think you know is how things really are?
Things are going to go wrong. It's how you deal with it that counts.
We all mess up occasionally. Some of us mess up more often than others and some of us more spectacularly than others. Tiger messed up on the world stage and it has cost him personally, professionally, and financially. He said that he had gotten away from his spiritual roots and that he plans to return to them. Have you ever done something that you knew was completely wrong? What action did you take? Did you attempt to sweep it under the rug, forget that it happened, or just stop interacting with the people who knew what you did? None of that truly works. At some point you will have to make amends with all the people you affected. Or you could just quit your job and find somewhere else to work where they don't know what you did. How well does that work?
Personal Life is Personal Life
So what's next for Tiger appears to be to work on getting his game back in order. His personal life is again private and he isn't sharing anything about that. If Tiger worked in corporate America he could do more or less whatever he wanted to do in his personal time as long as it didn't affect his ability to perform at work. Let's say your CEO had a torrid affair with their assistant. I'm not making any judgments here but in many cases corporations fire the CEO and start looking for a new one. How about a line manager who goes out for too many drinks with their staff? They will probably be written up for that and told never to do that again or face being fired. In corporate America the way these types of situations are handled has a lot to do with avoiding potential litigation. There is a formalized process of verbal and written warnings. The PGA Tour, the organization of which Tiger is a member, has codes of conduct and they sometimes suspend or withdraw a player's right to play. Not really that different to the rest of corporate America.
To forgive is Wise
At some point it's just prudent or wise to forgive someone for their transgressions. The alternative is to, at best, continue to hold a grudge. At worst there is veiled or unveiled hostility. That isn't going to foster any kind of workable relationship. Many times there can be forgiveness but the parties involved separate and choose not to work or be together. Other times there can be forgiveness and the relationship can continue. Consider the case of the CEO's affair. If the CEO apologizes to their spouse, the other person involved in the affair, their staff, and everyone who was affected then isn't it possible to get back to work? Perhaps it was a one-time transgression and the CEO has learned their lesson? In Tiger's case it appears that his wife has chosen to end the relationship. That can happen too. In any case like this it's mostly up to the parties involved to work out what is best for them. Isn't it really all their own business?
By the way, Tiger finished tied for 28th place.