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Can You Be Like the Boston Red Sox?

Red Sox Win

Red Sox WS WinI realize we’re originally an Aussie company, but after living in Boston for 20 years, I’m personally a diehard Red Sox baseball fan. And since THEY JUST WON THE WORLD SERIES, I found myself thinking about how surprising it is that, during a “rebuilding year”, they found a way to make it to the top of their game.

And then, because I live and breathe staffing, I thought about the parallels between the Boston Red Sox’ surprising team performance and how we often underestimate new hires on our own teams.

First, a little background

In order to make sure that the 99% of this blog’s readers who aren’t rabid Red Sox fans can follow my logic, I’m going to give you a little background. I’m challenging myself to keep this brief so that you don’t bounce :):

The Boston Red Sox are an old baseball team. They were dominant until 1918, when they won their last World Series for a REALLY LONG TIME. Then they pretty much got beat up or ALMOST won for 86 years until 2004, when they won the World Series again.

They won again in 2007, and looked really good in 2011, until they had the worst end-of-season slide in history because the manager lost control of the players. In 2012, they had a new manager but disastrous performance, and in 2013 they brought in another new manager. A lot of us assumed that, with a new manager for the 2nd year running, this year would be all about rebuilding.

What does this have to do with you?

Think of it like this – you just came off of the worst two quarters in history.

Two quarters ago, your team and performance were seriously looking amazing, but then your star players slacked off and your manager lost control. You ended up with a graph that went waaaay up, and then waaay down when you lost that big deal at the end of the quarter.

So you fired your manager and some of the team. You got some new individual contributors in, but you couldn’t get the manager you wanted, so you went with someone else out of desperation. The next quarter was an unmitigated disaster – the worst quarter you’ve had in years.

So you fired THAT manager, since the person you wanted finally agreed to a deal. She brought in some of her own players, and you figured that THIS quarter would be a quarter of rebuilding and coming up from absolute zero.

But what actually happened was that your new manager ushered in one of the best quarters in your company’s history. Although the new team was still getting used to each other and the new folks had to learn all the new systems, something just clicked.

How you can make this happen

Conventionally, in business, something like this absolutely cannot happen. Of course, no baseball team should be able to win the World Series during a ‘rebuilding’ year either.

So think for a moment – what if this CAN happen? What if, after a rough spot in your business, you can have your performance go from awful to awesome?

  1. Cut your losses. If you think your team isn’t performing as it should, it might be time to find a new manager.
  2. Do what it takes to hire the right person. The Red Sox had the worst performance they had in 47 years in 2012 because they settled for a subpar manager. If you want amazing performance, figure out a way to get the right person in the role.
  3. Find a way. Maybe the new folks won’t do things like you’ve ever done before, but if you encourage them to find a way to win – like the Red Sox did – they’ll probably surprise you.
  4. Have faith like a Red Sox fan. From 1918 to 2004 the Red Sox did not win the World Series, yet every year fans would say, “THIS will be the one.” Have faith in your new hires like we did in the Red Sox. Believe that your new manager and players can crush their goals, and infect your company with that belief.

Can you guarantee a turnaround with a new team? Nope. The Red Sox hired many new managers in its history, and very few (just one) moved them from a nearly record-breaking losing season to the World Series champion. But get the right people in their roles and give them some faith and support, and they might just surprise you.

Jenn Steele

Head of Growth at RecruitLoop. Previously at Amazon & HubSpot. Passionate about growing humans and companies, working out, and wine. Also blogs on leadership at leadinggeeks.net. Follow her @jennsteele.

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