Business Lessons Learned On The Baseball Field

Setting Your Team up for Success

My 11-year-old son is currently playing in a recreational baseball league. The coaches continue to work with the boys to hone their skills and improve the level of play in the field. They have their good games and their less-than-stellar games. Yet, through it all, one thing is consistent – they are a team working together toward a common goal.

As I’ve thought about his season, I believe that some aspects of my son’s baseball team provide insight into the leadership of people within a business – a team of employees working towards a common goal. My top lessons learned are below. Can you apply any of these lessons to your construction business?


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Practice Makes Perfect Better

Since the beginning of the season, the team has been working to improve their skills. Whether in the batting cage or working on fielding, the team regularly practices different aspects of the game. I generally see most construction companies considering the training that employees needs on the job site. However, what about the workers in the office or those estimating or managing jobs? Have they been provided the opportunity to develop their skills further?

Listen to the Coaches

Baseball, with this age group, requires an interesting mix of praise and correction. In an environment where people are learning something new or making a few mistakes, providing constructive criticism is vital. Without proper coaching, the same errors are repeated. As an employee, do you accept correction well or, as a manager, do you provide input to others? Further, as great plays are made within the business, encouragement and praise is a great way to boost employee morale.

Play Your Position

More than once this season, I have seen two players running to catch a ball meanwhile leaving a base open that nobody has covered. This is part of the learning process for these boys but stresses the importance of understanding your role and working within that. Recognizing the need to also be a team player, having a distinct role allows an employee to focus on what he should be doing rather than jumping around to unnecessary tasks.

In the same vein, the role of the coach does not involve playing on the field during the game. Often owners and other leaders have a tendency to dive too far into performing tasks within a business rather than staying in their role as a leader or manager. Educate your people to play their positions well and sit back and give them the guidance they need to succeed.

While this would never happen in my son’s league, in smaller construction companies, it is more common to have player/coaches, individuals who are both involved in the operations and management of the company. Wearing a bunch of hats can lead to working more on tasks at hand or extinguishing fires than stepping back to think about the overall business. Yet, stepping back is vital to the future and profitability of the company.

In the same vein, the role of the coach does not involve playing on the field during the game. Often owners and other leaders have a tendency to dive too far into performing tasks within a business rather than staying in their role as a leader or manager. Educate your people to play their positions well and sit back and give them the guidance they need to succeed.

Learn Other Positions

To have a more versatile team and to understand the overall game better, my son’s team moves players around to different positions on the field every so often. While this isn’t the right approach in every situation or business, it allows for a better understanding of the different roles and gives more flexibility in the long run. It is a worthwhile task to consider cross-training that may benefit your team.

Have Fun (and Win!)

The goal of playing the games is to win. And I assume your company exists primarily to make money. In the end, I have to remind myself (as a fan who has a bit of a competitive side) and my son when he is frustrated that there is more to baseball than winning – we are there to have fun and do our best as well. While we all have different motivations within our businesses, I encourage you to enjoy the journey with your team along the way.

By Mark Beebe, CPA (Zanesville office)

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