Baseball as a metaphor for winning in business — promoting the right employees

To win baseball championships, there’s often a correlation — among  a baseball team’s management, talent and farm system. A farm system’s role is to provide training and experience for young players. The best farm systems deliver impact talent.

Consider the 2013 World Series’ champs; the Boston Red Sox.

In 2012, Boston finished last in the American League East with a 69-93 record. Considering the team’s history, the lowly won-loss record was a surprise. So the Red Sox fired Bobby Valentine and hired John Farrell to manage the team on the field.

File:Bosb.pngThe team traded for some new “team-minded” players. The team responded well to the new manager and the Red Sox finished the regular season with the best record in the American League at 97-65.

During the World Series on Oct. 28, a ranking for farm systems was published. The Red Sox farm system was ranked No. 1 in Baseball America’s 2013 organizational rankings.

Shortstop Xander Bogaerts was rated the team’s best farm-system talent. Ironically, he played a major role in the team’s post season success and two days later the Red Sox won the series by defeating the St. Louis Cardinals, four games to two.

Lessons from the Red Sox are applicable to business. To win, managers must excel and make the right talent decisions.

That can be accomplished in a couple of ways: You can blow your budget out-of-whack spending huge sums of money for talent or you can grow your own.

The latter option makes the most sense and is indicative of strong leadership. Companies that promote their executives from inside vis-à-vis recruiting from the outside have a much higher financial-success rate.

In other words, successful companies identify and nurture their intellectual capital. (See the Link between Financial Performance and Succession Planning)

In promoting talent, the three errors to avoid:

1. Failing to understand the big picture or have clarity of purpose. Picking the right people for the right jobs means understanding the dynamic marketplace, anticipating change, and knowing what skill sets will lead to success.

2. Too much subjectivity and not enough objectivity. Managers often use the wrong evaluation criteria — they lack objectivity in decision-making. (See 12 Errors to Avoid in Evaluations)

Like a baseball farm system, talent has to be evaluated for potential. In addition, an investment has to be made in the talent’s future so it will be developed and given the right opportunities.

3. Risk aversion and management. Lack of critical thinking and playing it too safe is as dangerous as making too-risky decisions. Vision is needed to understand which untested talent should be promoted.

So what can you do to avoid mistakes in your farm system?

Use these tips:

1. Put a premium on critical thinking, financial savvy, ability to make tough decisions, dedication to continuous personal and professional growth, have the art of persuasion to motivate others, tenacity, patience, skills in creating opportunities, and knowing when to cut losses.

2. Comprehensibly ascertain your capabilities and what you’ll need for success in the years to come.

3. Evaluate your employees on their potential to become leaders using the skills listed in the No.1 strategy above.

4. Once you make a decision regarding talent, don’t engage in self-doubt. Stay focused, provide tools and opportunities for your employees to accelerate your business growth.

From the Coach’s Corner, more management strategies:

Management — Big Banks Provide Lessons in Succession Planning — Many businesspeople are so focused on operating their businesses, they forget about human capital –their most important asset. Organizations from small to large should strategically make a succession plan.

Why Companies Stay Successful When Others Fail — There’s a common thread among companies that succeed long term. A Stanford University professor calls the reason “organizational ambidexterity. That’s the ability needed to manage business lines while simultaneously strategizing and implementing change as the world and marketplace evolves.

dedication + motivation = success


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.