Spring training is in full swing, and whether you’re invested in watching the Cactus League or the Grapefruit League, all baseball fans have an eye on their favorite teams right about now.
But did you know there is actually a lot we can learn from spring training?
The whole practice started back in the 1800’s, and these pre-season camps were originally designed as a way to try out new players, to retrain everyone, and to experiment with the roster before heading into a new season. Those same purposes exist today, which got me thinking… what would it look like if companies were to engage in a bit of spring training every year as well?
Obviously, it isn’t possible to go into full spring training mode; your teams aren’t completely interchangeable, and you can’t just drop and bring on new players at will. But you can do a few things throughout the year that mimic the spirit of spring training and allow you to build the strongest team possible.
- Probation Periods: Hiring can be a precarious thing, and sometimes the applicant you thought was so amazing in the interview process, turns out to be a dud on the job. This is where probationary periods can come in handy, but only if they are used correctly. Including a 30, 60, or 90 day probationary period in a new job offer should also come with the commitment of your management team to truly train this new recruit into the best player (or, employee) he or she can be. That means establishing an onboarding process that extends far beyond the first day paperwork. Don’t just set your new hires free and allow them to sink or swim; get your entire team involved in helping them to swim, and have an out built into the contract if that just doesn’t seem like a possibility in the end.
- Team Evaluations: Every time you bring a new player onto your team, you run the risk of throwing off the pre-existing balance. Which is why good managers are forever paying attention to how their teams are functioning and what the balance of strengths and weaknesses might be. It’s important to remember that most new hires will not be exact replicas of their predecessors, which means that every time you bring someone new on board, you run the risk of losing your groove. The best way to avoid that is to continuously be evaluating the productivity of your team, focusing in on holes that might exist, and how to fill them.
- Trades: As your team dynamics change, it’s not uncommon to find that certain players who were once great in their roles, no longer work as well within the new makeup. That doesn’t mean your long-standing employee should be fired, but it might mean they could serve the company (and themselves) better in another department. When you find that a team isn’t meshing as well as they once were, consider discussing options for other opportunities within the company for some of your team members. They may thrive with the chance to embrace new challenges, and your team may perform better with a little shifting around.