Monday, April 5, 2010

Business Lessons learned from little league, part 2

Coaching 9 and 10 year olds can be a great way to learn some business lessons. Especially on how to deal with unique circumstances and "interesting" perspectives on proper conduct.

Not everyone will listen or play along - whether they be your boss/es, coworker/s, or direct report/s it is a guarantee that despite your infinite wisdom and perfect plan that people will both willfully and unintentionally not go along. On the ballfield there are two types of mistakes: physical and mental. Physical mistakes are to be tolerated and corrected, mistakes happen, people throw the ball too hard or too soft, swing and miss, etc. That is life, and sometimes innate abilities can't match the situation.

But mental mistakes? No no no. These are because people are not paying attention, were not listening, were not thinking, etc. These cannot be tolerated.

In the workplace, those who unintentionally stray from the path need to be corrected and brought back into the fold. Honest mistake, no harm no foul, etc.

Those who intentionally won't go with the plan, well there are hundreds of books written on how to deal with those people. I simply recommend making it clear what expectations are, and keeping a log of willful disobedience. For my little leaguers this can result in a player/coach/parent meeting, emails to parents, etc. Typically these are resolved with a one-on-one meeting between the player and coach. But not always...

Match abilities to the situation - Don't put the least skilled and least experienced player on the pitcher's mound. It is principally not fair to them, and secondarily not fair to the team. Don't put your newest consultant in front of a senior executive to give a presentation they didn't create, and don't intimately know. This should be obvious, but in sports and business we make this mistake a lot.

Give everyone a chance - However you define a "fresh start" in business, make sure this opportunity exists. On a little league team, this should be the beginning of the new year. For consultants, when you go to a new project you should enter with few biases and a chance to prove yourself. You shouldn't be fighting an uphill battle. Lots of times little league coaches talk to each other about players and bias each other "Timmy was afraid of the ball" "Billy was a bad shortstop" "Sally can't pitch". These are kids, they mature in the blink of an eye, give them a chance to prove themselves. Don't be their enemy to start off with. Same for employees, give them a chance.

(that being said, fool me once shame on you...)

The great pictures, in order, come from:
  1. on2wheelz
  2.  stuartmoulder
  3. ArkansasSportsPhotograp
  4. stuartmoulder 

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