Lessons From Spring Training

Baseball’s spring training officially started this past weekend. On the fields, temperatures in Arizona and Florida were in the 70s and 80s, a pleasant thought for many of us still buried in mounds of snow!

As baseball rings in its new year, we are reminded that much of what will be worked on during the 6 weeks of spring training is very similar to what businesses need to work on in order to be successful.

With 162 games to be played, baseball like business must run for the long-term with some months only seeing 1 or 2 days off. The team has to be at its best, polishing up on a variety of plays early and often. This way when the need arises, response to plays can be recalled from memory, an automatic reflex.

We are now closing in on the completion of the first 2 months of 2014. As you and your team prepare to win your own World Series, assess how you and your group measure up in several critical categories.

Leadership & Management
Champion athletes and all-star leaders set realistic goals and the
y commit to them.

  • A clear plan of action exists.
  • The strategy is well communicated to all players.
  • Implementation and execution of the strategy are well understood.
  • The team understands the differentiators that set the organization apart.
  • Strong and passionate leadership is demonstrated.
  • Leadership stays on message.
  • The team is able to remain focused.
  • Management knows how to motivate players.
  • Lead by example.
  • Listen, observe, and recalibrate as needed.
  • Keep a keen eye on the ball.
  • Promote collaboration in the clubhouse.
  • Metrics and statistics are reviewed with the team.

Take Action:
One goal for your own spring training might be to focus on improving a few metrics where the firm is not presently excelling. Create a plan to rectify.

As a manager you are responsible to:

Know Your Players 

  • Ensure each player understands the strategy.
  • Each player is clear on how they can directly impact a win.
  • Individual & team assessments are performed.
  • Strengths and weaknesses are understood.
  • Investment of time to fine-tune the skills of individual players may be of value.
  • Talents of each player are fully utilized.
  • Team communication is valued. For example:
  • The IT department is well aware of a potential new sales offering before it happens as it may impact system updates;
  • Company payment terms will be changing; the business development team is part of the early discussions and implementation process.
  • Cross-train when and where appropriate.
  • Review your roster:
  • Due to new technology or structural changes, there may be several valued long-term employees struggling. Can they be moved into a different job function making it a win-win for the company and the talent?
  • Consider investing in your top performers by providing special skills training to help move the company towards achieving its strategy. Don’t lose players because you haven’t considered alternative job functions.
  • You may have employees proficient with social media. If you are rolling out a strategy for such, might they be able to shift responsibilities. It could prove beneficial to invest time in further upgrading their skills and acknowledging their interests.
  • Ensure your bench is deep. It’s a long season, be prepared for the unforeseen bumps in the road.

Know Your Opposition
Respect your opponents. Know your competition. If competition throws you a curve ball as a regular practice make sure your team can hit a curve ball.

  • Be nimble enough to respond quickly to changing tactics.
  • Be ahead of the curve, understand coming trends.

Practice and Review the Basics
In sports, speaking in terms of offense and defense is common practice. The same holds true for business.


  • Ensure business development is ongoing.
  • The client list is a well-balanced.
  • Consider greater industry diversification.
  • Ensure everyone on the team has a basic understanding of product knowledge.
  • An excellent customer experience is top of mind.
  • Company atmosphere is friendly and welcoming.
  • Dress code is appropriate for your business.


  • The team is comfortable addressing objections.
  • They can maneuver with flexibility as needed.
  • Practicing for new and unexpected events is customary.
  • Know how to properly handle client issues is commonplace.

In general, fine-tune plays. Review potential plays, practice and re-practice so that when unexpected events happen appropriate reactions are second nature. A strong team anticipates what might happen during the season.

Star athletes are obsessed with perfecting their skills. They are totally prepared for the game. Hitting, throwing, and catching are basics in baseball. Identify the basics in your business and ensure they are dealt with as a regular and automatic part of business practices. Ensure your group is working as a team, all pushing towards the same goal . . . to win the game.

Please share your wisdom and insight.

Good luck as you continue to Play Ball!