My Two Cents: You’re Only as Strong as Your Weakest Player
Nurture your minor leaguers so that one day they star on the big stage
I always read with great interest the article here in The NEWS regarding the Best Contractors to Work For. I look for similarities in the way those contractors operate that sets them apart. Two things seem to stick out to me. These contractors excel at hosting events that benefit their employees to enhance the experience of working for that company, such as offering company-wide family outings, installing a fitness room, and more. These companies also tend to go above and beyond to provide training and education for their employees. This training helps employees improve at their current jobs but also gives them the ability to learn ways in which to advance within the company.
I want to draw a parallel to a business about which many of you are familiar — Major League Baseball. As many of you are aware, the St. Louis Cardinals were purchased from Anheuser Busch Brewery by a group of local business people in the 1990s. It happens that I attended high school and was a friend of the leader of the group, Bill DeWitt Jr. At our 50th high school reunion a few (several) years ago, DeWitt was asked to explain how the group proceeded as it took over the storied St. Louis baseball franchise. Surprisingly, their first action was to spend several million dollars upgrading and refurbishing all of the organization’s minor league ball parks. This money was spent mostly to improve accommodations for the players. Through this investment, ownership improved locker facilities, added workout rooms, and installed private areas.
When the managers at Anheuser Busch brought young prospects in to look at the parks and facilities, they wanted their place to stand out as the place a young player would want to play. That became the foundation for one of the most successful farm systems in baseball. Does that sound like the traits of a Best Contractor to Work For?
Secondly, the organization concentrated on providing exceptional training and nurturing to this nucleus group of young ball players. The team realized there was a need for continuous training from the lowest minor league level all of the way up to the big league club. Under the quiet, yet firm, hand of manager Mike Matheny, the Cardinals are continuously being trained to all aspects of baseball as well as the game of life. While I imagine other teams have similar types of programs, I believe the Cardinals’ attention to these details is why they have appeared in the National League Pennant Series nine times in the last 16 years.
NURTURE YOUR PROSPECTS
This relates to the businesses you and I operate, as well. To begin, we need to provide an environment that will be conducive for an individual to want to work there. Look over your facility — does it attract you as a place that, if you had choices, you would want to work? What about your existing employees? Are they truly welcoming the newest employees that are being brought in? Are you providing many and frequent training opportunities for new and existing employees? If you question if the training is worth the cost, think about the potential cost of not training employees to properly vent furnaces or to properly recover refrigerant.
Training needs to occur at all levels of the company. It’s just as important for a comfort consultant or sales engineer to be trained on the latest technologies in the models he or she is selling as it is to train the actual installer on that equipment’s actual installation methods. Don’t forget about the training needed for the administrative staff. The software applications we have available to us today are extremely broad and are changing frequently. Staff needs to be kept up to date on all of the functions of these systems in order to take advantage of what the company’s purchased.
While the company may not be trying to win another pennant, as the Cardinals are, the foundation and continuing training which they utilize should be an example as to how the company can remain ahead of the competition.
Publication date: 4/25/2016