What Professional Baseball Can Teach Professional Managers
FIRST THE GOOD NEWS
Your Human Resources Department has done a great job. You have assembled an overwhelming talent base. You have brought in some of the best talent in our industry and have been able to, unlike any other industry, get them to sign multi-year agreements to work exclusively for you. Your payroll costs are above the median, but they are well below the top tier of the industry.
Your marketing and sales staffs have been remarkably effective. Your ad campaigns have built on your past accomplishments and point clearly to the benefit to the customer of getting onboard for the coming successes. Your returning customers are numerous and loyal. You have been able to attract a steadily increasing stream of new customers.
THEN THE BAD NEWS
Your management team (called manager and coaches rather than president and vice-presidents) is experienced and intelligent, but unmotivated. They are more concerned with maintaining a facade of success than in finding and eliminating the barriers to productivity.
The management team is able to instruct subordinates properly in the desired methods and outcomes, but appears to lack the ability to make tough decisions under pressure. They have gone too far with the participative management trend and are unprepared to require that their subordinates meet and maintain established performance standards.
The president (manager) is unskilled in delegation. His inability to allow vice-presidents (coaches) to exercise control over their own areas of responsibility is obvious. However, he holds them liable when his decisions, whether based on their recommendations or not, prove incorrect. The recent abrupt termination of one vice-president (coach) was broadly perceived by employees and customers as an attempt to distract attention from the presidents (managers) own poor performance, rather than as an attempt to correct the problem.
The key individuals responsible for production in the various areas do not coordinate. The manufacturing department (hitting) has been particularly effective, especially early in this fiscal year. The shipping department (starting pitchers) has done very well. There has been, however, a complete failure in the delivery channels (relief pitchers).
The inability of the delivery staff to perform to minimum industry standards has prompted other departments to cut back on production. Since no layoffs have been made in these departments their efficiency had fallen dramatically.
A recent improvement in the delivery team output has brought them to nearly industry standard levels. Unfortunately, other departments have not seen this as sufficient motivation to drastically increase production again. In those departments where an effort has been made to return to earlier production levels, the downtime has noticeably impaired their ability to re-achieve maximum output.
Low morale among the employees has measurably reduced the overall quality of the product being delivered to the customer. Stock holders (season ticket holders) are taking a more long-term perspective, and seem willing to wait until production and quality difficulties can be corrected. Customers (ticket buyers) have less investment in the companys success and have already cut back significantly in their purchases. The longer the poor quality product is delivered, or is anticipated to be delivered, the more difficult it will be to recapture these customers.
Part 3 My recommendations to the senior management (manager and coaches) of the baseball team on how to improve the efficiency, quality, and profitability of their operation.
Part 4 My apology to those of you who are not sports fans.
Part 1 The beginning of this story.
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