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Monthly Business e-Tips Vol 4
Issue 11

Build a Team Like the Boston Red Sox

Teamwork is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.
- Unknown

Admittedly, I am a great fan of any Boston sports team during playoffs. During the regular season, I find other interests lure me away from the games. Even so, I was caught up in the excitement of watching the Red Sox win another World Series. During all the playoff games I saw some amazing performances by both rookies and seasoned players.

What amazed me most was some of the analyses during and after the playoff games. I heard that Jonathan Papelbon was originally a starting pitcher. He was miserable. He had great anxiety about playing and couldn’t sleep the night before a game. He asked Terry Francona and Theo Epstein to transfer his role from starting pitcher to closer. They listened. Based on his intensity as he pitched and the amazing results, it was clearly a great move.

Then we saw how Francona used the team’s rookies, giving them opportunities to play in the World Series. He integrated the proven front line players with others who actually underperformed during the regular season. They learned to work off each other. What we witnessed was inspirational. Many players reached new heights and played outstanding baseball. By not relying on just the best in-season performers, the coach invested in the team’s future. The result was the development of a well-oiled team.

Now Francona and Epstein are making some hard decisions about whom they will need for the team of the future versus preserving the team of the past. In professional sports, teams trade players often leaving no room for loyalty or gratitude. It’s all about preparing for the next year or two. Other types of businesses hopefully operate with more humanity when making decisions that affect their employees.

You can learn from the Red Sox about building a workplace team. Here are some of the ways:

  • Function as a team. A group with varied skills and specialties will take you further than one or two stars. Get your “players” to think like a team and work together toward unified goals. Clarify how team members are interdependent in reaching their goals.
  • Give workers the opportunity to grow. You will never know what employees can do unless you give them a chance. Challenge them and encourage them to stretch their abilities. Utilize their strengths and talents. Allow them to be their best.
  • Mentor and train qualified “rookies” to be the new leaders. Think ahead. Younger less experienced workers need to learn from the masters. Make sure that happens by design, not by chance. It’s rewarding for both senior and junior participants and the business wins, too.
  • Motivate and encourage your team members. People will perform better if they get positive feedback along with constructive suggestions to improve. The team will follow your lead by encouraging each other, strengthening the group.
  • Be patient with “diamonds in the rough.” Not everyone shines right away. Look at the performance of Dustin Pedroia during the season. Francona could have counted him out in postseason games. And how he moved rookie Jacoby Ellsbury quickly, taking advantage of his talent. Evaluate who’s sitting on your bench: which ones could be your next stars?
Building a team is strategic. Think about what skills and experience you’re light on and hire to fill in the gaps. Remember, not everyone needs to be outstanding. If your players can work well together, you can create a strong force within your business.
Go team!

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