Are your teammates willing to “sacrifice” someone along?
Note: Baseball season begins next week at the collegiate level. I never tire of using sports analogies in my writing.
Hard to believe it is Monday morning again, but I feel refreshed after a great weekend and it is time for another post in the current series of thoughts about how Baseball and Business are similar in their makeup. In previous posts we have talked about the general similarities between the two and we then talked about one of the basic strategies, small ball versus gorilla ball. Today we will talk about another core play in baseball, the sacrifice, and reflect upon how it can be utilized in the workplace if you have the right team in place.
What is a sacrifice? According to Wikipedia a sacrifice bunt is the batter’s deliberate act of bunting the ball in a manner to allow another runner to advance to the next base. In most cases the batter does so with the knowledge that he will likely be making an out on the play. A sacrifice fly is much the same in that the batter flies out in a manner that the base runner can “tag up” after the catch is made. Again, the batter gives up his chance to score in order to advance his teammate and assist the team.
As a team game the overall strategy is to have your team score more runs than your opponent. This is done by advancing and scoring runners and by having good pitching and defense that keeps your opponent from doing the same.
In business we measure success by revenue growth, profit growth, customer satisfaction and employee satisfaction. There may be other measures, but these are the key measurables that determine success or failure.
There are also individual statistics in baseball, just as in business. In a perfect world we might think that players don’t worry about their own stats, but we all know that in today’s sports and business world (they seem to merge more every day) that all players know their own statistics. As a result of this there are times when players might be challenged by the thought of the sacrifice, something that adds little to their own stats, versus the opportunity to swing away and possibly get a hit that could advance the runner or score him.
Business holds the same challenges. In an environment where companies push more of the responsibility of development and growth to the individual versus managing that from a more centralized level it is to be expected when players/employees choose to do what benefits them personally versus doing things that might not get noticed on the scorecard by those running the team/business. This “win/lose” mentality might provide good short term gains for individuals and companies, but it can also have long-term implications on teamwork and business viability.
The sacrifice is an integral part of the game of baseball. In a game where the teams are evenly matched and both have good pitching and defense, the sacrifice can make the difference between the one run that wins the game and not scoring at all.
Sacrifices also need to take place in today’s business world. Too often we see workers who are all striving for the same thing because business leaders are too myopic to see that many positions are important for success, not just one or two. The resulting behavior by the team is then not collaborative, but more competitive. They end up competing more internally than they do externally with those they are trying to beat.
A good friend once made the statement that “what gets measured, matters”. So it is in business and baseball. Good baseball managers and coaches know their stats, both on a team and a player level. No player wins the world series on his own. The same goes for business. There will always be company measures and individual measures. Both must be considered when measuring success. When one gets more value than the other, the long-term results is bad for the team.
When the opportunity arises, lay one down and help the team with a sacrifice. The team will prosper when you do this and your teammates will notice also.
You just might feel better too.