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Swing Away!

Have you struck out in business, on a project, or investment? Did you go down swinging or did you watch the last pitch without swinging? Did you lose money or a profit opportunity?

In Major League Baseball parks, fans follow a pitcher’s strikeout performance by displaying “K’s” to symbolize strikeouts draping “K” signs over the outfield fence. “K” is and was used as a scorebook shorthand symbol to represent strikeouts since “S” represents a steal. Many highly successful baseball pitchers record five or more strikeouts per game. For an offense, a strikeout does absolutely nothing for a team’s performance, no runners advance, no runs are scored.

A backwards “K” represents a called strike by the umpire where a batter does not swing at all and merely watches the pitch pass-by making an out and no swing adjustments for the next “at bat” occur. The batter ignominiously merely walks back to the dugout.

Baseball provides so many business lessons and we draw on its lingo in so many ways. We “hit one out of the park”, we take “our swings”, we “sweep the plate clean”, we “touch all the bases” and we either “go down swinging” or “strike out”.

Let’s look at the “striking out looking” or the backwards “” for business. Watching for challenges to turn into opportunities is a key to a successful business. When we miss an opportunity because we did not see it coming, the competition threw us a curve ball, we did not have the information in our scouting report or did not practice or processes, our business is greatly affected.

A leader needs to create and maintain a positive culture where each team member is able to maintain a broader perspective where the team is constantly searching for the next opportunity together. Information needs to flow freely, new ideas explored, and perspectives considered as well as collecting data to make market decisions. Sometimes we begin to lose sight of the team connections and the caring portion because our focus is on what is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound – the S.M.A.R.T. model…But how do you measure employee engagement?

You measure engagement and positive culture by how freely information is exchanged. Can team members trust each other, can they exchange information freely, and do they have relationships which extend outside of work? Just like coming up to bat in baseball, where it is certainly important to have your swing mechanics down pat, but it is equally important to have the scouting reports, the preceding batters information on what the pitcher’s strategy, location, and types of pitches seen to be fully prepared while at bat.

Similarly, a business needs not only routine processes, but a team members must be up on current marketing trends, new innovations, and personal connections with peers from other companies. Leading a team or organization requires building a positive culture where these precepts are in place creating the communications and connections necessary to foresee new prospects and opportunities.

So it has never been more critical to hold positive, purposeful, and productive conversations within a team or company. This allows you and your team to take risks, make mistakes, talk candidly and caringly, and work together for a common purpose.

Measuring a team’s culture is hard to nail down, however, a recent study estimated disengaged employees can drain over 18% of their salary from a company’s profit. 18% equates to $18K per $100K of salary. That’s a lot of money you can put back into your profit line.

As a leader, you are the single most important driver of the organization. Like baseball, “going down swinging” after using everyone’s input and all the data is considered is better than a backwards “” because even if your swing misses, you used everything available and you can trust the team feedback to improve the next “at bat.” So “SWING AWAY”!

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