by | Customer Service, Leadership

Sandbagging is a term most often used in the game of golf. In golf it refers to players who either miss shots on purpose or outright cheat by turning in a higher score than they actually shot. This affects the handicap that is given to non-professional golfers to help level the playing field. Golfers turn in their scores and the scores are averaged and weighted to give the players an established handicap. This handicap is used to deduct from actual scores in tournaments to make the golfers equal based on their average scores. Unfortunately, some golfers lie about their scores and build a higher handicap to deduct from their tournament scores. Then they play better than their handicaps to win the tournaments. This at its base is nothing short of cheating.

Sandbagging occurs off of the golf course, as well.  Here are some common ways that sandbagging is used in life and business:

  • Sales people reach their quota and withhold sales at the end of month to carry over to the next month’s sales.
  • Managers of operations reach their quota for the day, month or week and divert activity away from production.
  • Individuals working out physically, don’t push themselves as hard as they can.
  • Worker’s complete 80% of their daily tasks in half of their shift’s time and cruise through the rest of the day instead of seeing how much they can accomplish in the day.
  • Spouses hedge on how much they can do for each other and thus do less for each other.
  • Customer service representatives make excuses for the company instead of seeing how to meet the customer’s demands.
  • Students don’t study as much as they can to get the higher grade or test result.

We all are guilty of sandbagging in some way. What would happen if sandbagging in business and life was reduced by 50%? What could be the potential gain in productivity, benefits, health and well being in our lives? What can we do? Let’s take a look at this.

Reasons That People Sandbag

  • People are afraid that they will be held to a higher standard.
  • People have a fear of failure or success.
  • People are afraid they will not be able to duplicate results.
  • Managers don’t recognize the successes; they just expect it from that point on.
  • People are not aware of their true potential.

Strategies For Reducing Sandbagging

  • Identify areas in your life where sandbagging may be occurring.
  • Identify the reason(s) for it.
  • Prioritize those areas and work on the top three.
  • Share with someone what areas you want to work on.
  • Monitor the progress in those areas and report to someone the results.
  • Once those areas are improved, reprioritize other areas of concern.
  • Enjoy the increased potential.

If we can reduce sandbagging in our lives and businesses we can increase the use of potential to levels previously thought to be unattainable. Where are you sand bagging and what are you doing about it? What an impact it would have on our economy, if we could all reduce sandbagging by 50% or more.

Jeri Quinn

Jeri Quinn from Driving Improved Results is an executive coach, management consultant, speaker and author who focuses on communication in her work with executives and companies. She is the author of The Customer Loyalty Playbook, 12 Game Strategies to Drive Improved Results in Your Business. With more than 40 years as a serial entrepreneur.

Quinn has worked with executives and teams in over 40 industries, spoken at major business expos including New York City’s Javits Center, facilitated business development and extraordinary customer service at institutions such as MoMA and AIG, and has partnered with New York City, The Kauffman Foundation, Citibank, Merrill Lynch, HSBC, and Signature Bank to educate their clients.


She can be reached at:

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