leadership-change-baseball-human-resourcesIf you’ve watched even one game of professional baseball in your life, you’ve seen the manager visit the mound and give his Pitcher “the hook.” Could be for any number of reasons, but it translates into one universal truth ~ a change is needed.

How great would it be if we could emulate the same practice in our professional setting? So many relevant applications:

  • The Pitcher is gassed: Worn out, struggling, been in the game too long. Fresh arm is needed to, at the very least, give the team a better chance. A great start to the game does not (and should not) insure the same player is on the mound to end the game. A succession plan is established, roles are defined and understood, change is seamless.
  • Matchup strategy: “Different horses for different courses,” i.e., there are some who will excel with one particular client or project. Mitch Williams was a hair-on-fire left-handed Pitcher who made a career out of scaring the heck out of left-handed hitters late in a game. Pitching to a right-handed hitter, he made Joe Carter a World Series hero (and made himself a goat.) You may have a salesperson who can hit the mark with one particular client, but gets escorted out of the building in others.
  • The Pitcher stinks: Some times, it’s just not your day. Wild, inconsistent, inaccurate, ineffective. The manager, in effect, is “saving” the Pitcher in these situations. Hit the showers, live to fight another day. One bad outing does not a career make, but delaying the inevitable only hurts the team.
  • Hunches: For people who don’t believe in “gut” feelings, intuition, or hunches, this means nothing to you ~ but it’s more likely you actually do know the feeling of which I speak. Instincts are hard to overcome, and the best managers don’t ignore those nagging hunches when making a decision. It’s more acceptable to say “stick to the data,” but your instinct is often driven by data points you are unconsciously collecting throughout the day/week/year/life – don’t dismiss this gift of information collection.

No matter the reason, the manager is doing what managers do…they manage. The players on the field gather on the mound, give the departing Pitcher a pat on the butt, welcome the new guy, and carry on. The team realizes the need for a change, and it’s understood that it’s the responsibility of the manager to make the decision. To avoid that responsibility is to risk “losing” the team.

The Genesis of this post? I’m watching a colleague conduct a presentation, and he’s dying. The first of four days and he’s as flat as a flounder. If this were baseball, the home crowd would be booing relentlessly. He’s already hit two batters, walked the bases full, and he seems to have a case of the flop sweats.

It’s just not his day, time to get the hook.

John “Whit” Whitaker is Founder of the HR Hardball™ Straight talk, no-nonsense approach to workplace issues.