The annual Major League Baseball World Series is one of the greatest stages in sport. It combines the spectacle of 4th of July fireworks, the athleticism of the Olympics and the inclusiveness of a neighborhood block party. It truly is an event for everyone.
But getting to participate in the World Series is no easy task, as this year’s teams – the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians - know all too well. The 2016 Fall Classic features the two teams with the longest combined World Series title drought at 176 years (68 years for Cleveland, a historically long 108 years for Chicago).
The common thread that links both teams this year is one that we at Halogen believe passionately in, namely, a winning strategy to maximize the impact of talent. Leadership, razor-sharp people focus and their ability to manage performance effectively are a big part of this strategy. The results are impressive and we’re thrilled that both the Indians and Cubs are using Halogen TalentSpace™, as part of their winning strategy.
It takes a well-oiled machine made up of hundreds of people performing at their peak to get to the World Series. This isn’t just about the players – coaching staff, trainers, equipment managers, finance, scouting, administration, legal and everyone else in the organization needs to be at the top of their game. So what performance management lessons can you learn from these leading teams?
Building a culture of winning
In order to be the best, whether in the bull pen or in the boardroom, an organization needs to buy into a shared vision. For the Chicago Cubs, this means aligning everyone around one objective: Embrace the target. That’s the mantra of skipper Joe Maddon. His target is a World Series win, and he has the entire organization’s culture built around this shared goal.
While the players get the accolades for the wins – and the criticism for the losses – the Cubs’ success relies on more than an excellent roster of players. The athletes on the field are supported by a strong organizational culture that believes that a collective of people “can do one thing better than it’s ever been done before”. That rallying cry comes from general manager and big data wizard Theo Epstein.
But building a culture of winning is not isolated to Wrigleyville. Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona has a long track record of winning. That’s partly due to his baseball acumen, and partly to his ability to inspire players and build a culture of winning. After all, if his players and staffers don’t believe they can win, they would never have made it as far as the World Series Championships. Veteran Cleveland outfielder Rajai Davis describes how Francona built a culture of high expectations by saying that “he let us know that if we valued winning more than any other team, then we’ll be in this position that we’re in.”
Performance management, all the way to the top
Developing a World Series-winning performance management strategy starts with nailing the essentials:
- Develop great managers – and not just the ones who pick the batting order
- Set goals that are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-based)
- Encourage and enable ongoing feedback and recognition so that your people know when they’re doing well (although unlike on the baseball field, patting of butts as a form of positive recognition may not work in your organization)
- Establish a culture of forward-focused growth and development – recognizing when your team needs to enter a rebuild phase and when it should try and go all the way to the top
- Conduct performance discussions on an ongoing basis. You can’t coach your people if you don’t know them
Congratulations to both Cleveland and the Cubbies for making it to the World Series this year. We think it’s going to be an exciting series!