Play Ball! Baseball season is in full swing and managers around the country will spend the next several months constantly tweaking and adjusting their lineup for each game, looking to ensure they have the best roster of players to face an opponent. The idea of a winning ‘lineup’ is one that carries over to your business and you can learn several lessons from seasoned managers:
Look at the big picture: You can’t win a ball game with one player only or expertise in one skill only (i.e. great hitting but no fielding) — Any successful championship team has a well balanced group of players with diverse skills; use the same technique in your office. Do an assessment of all your employees and look for holes or weak spots — Are you loaded up on salespeople but lacking in back-end support to process orders efficiently? Examine staffing up in that area or moving someone from another department into a new role to meet demand.
Practice, practice! Even though the months-long baseball season is draining and demanding with lots of travel, good managers and coaches insist on regular practices and drills for all players. Just because you are on the field almost every day doesn’t mean you wouldn’t benefit from batting practice or a videotaped form review. Your employees are the same — A seasoned A/P person may be in the invoicing trenches every day but they may not be aware of new software or tools to make their job easier; constant education and ‘practice’ (training) can keep everyone up to date.
Know the signs: Catchers and pitchers have a specific series of signs to help communicate what pitch is next and a strategy for each opposing batter. However, the signs are useless unless both participants are up to date on what each sign means. If your industry uses specific abbreviations or icons to illustrate key issues or steps in a process, make sure they are clearly spelled out and accessible for all involved to avoid confusion.
Keep your team ready for anything: A baseball team might be halfway through a winning season when a star player goes out with an injury — How do they react? Oftentimes managers and coaches will shuffle players around to meet needs. In your workplace, have a plan regarding what may happen if someone goes out on maternity leave or medical disability and work with all employees about ways to cover the load if need be. Be proactive with your team members if you need to make a shift — asking their input on the best way to handle a situation may uncover solutions you hadn’t even considered!
Move up from the minor leagues: The best major league players often started in the minor leagues, developing skills along the way. Look at places you can recruit from as your own ‘minor league’ — Think about starting an internship program for local college students, examine temp employees as potential hires and when conducting annual reviews, be sure to think upwards for each person and consider how they may excel in management with a little expertise and guidance.
Promote your superstars but don’t forget this is a team endeavor: Definitely use employee recognition programs and incentives to motivate your top performers, but remember that every contributor has a value in your workplace. Even if an employee wasn’t the top salesperson for the quarter, be sure to recognize individualized accomplishments such as increasing a client’s budget or gaining a new professional certification.
Swing big: The most exciting parts of a baseball game are undeniably those big grand slam home runs or amazing double plays. In your business, take a risk once in a while and swing big and go for that big dream client or contract — You can’t win if you don’t play!