The secret sauce, a perfect combination of ingredients that guarantees good teamwork, eludes many managers. Yet the manager of our home team–SF Giants’ Bruce Bochy–has mastered it. Since professional baseball provides the ultimate example of teamwork, the work world can learn a lot from our home town baseball skipper.
A recent headline announced: “Respect Is Name of Bochy’s Game.” The article quoted one of the Giants players: “He doesn’t play favorites by sucking up to guys going good or blowing off guys who are struggling.” Zito, pitcher for the San Francisco Giants who has experienced both conditions lately, went on to say, “One of his greatest attributes is he knows where to draw the line as far as being friendly with players and being authoritative with players. Communication is so important, and he tells his guys where they stand. It’s all we want to know.”
Is respect the key ingredient in the secret sauce? Absolutely! But respect is a big ideal. What does it look like? Watching Bochy being interviewed after a disappointing performance gives us a few clues. He makes statements to the press similar to: “He had an off night but he’ll get back to it tomorrow” or “He just cares so much he is freezing up” or “He has been working so hard that he needs a few days off.” While discussing his players, this manager always seems to have their backs.
On occasion, I react with a “What? This player is making millions of dollars—and he needs a few days off?” Yet inevitably the same player returns a few days later with better performance and a renewed spirit. While not everyone can give their employees time off when they seemed stressed, the underlying psychology seems to work. Realizing that poor performance may be a symptom of other issues is a good place to start. In my own experience, the best managers I worked my heart out for were the same ones who cut me a break when they could see my energy was flagging.
Naturally, discretion is important. Another tip from Bochy’s play book is that he will reward a good performance with a return performance. When members of his team play well, they get to play again. In other words, his compassion is blended with practicality….two more good ingredients in the manager’s secret sauce.
To sum up the skipper’s success:
- Take into account the situation and the individual,
- Communicate honestly and with respect,
- Allow for mistakes but reward success, and
- Live to see another…championship?
He is creating another winning team, and borrowing his secret sauce can help you create champions, too!