Number 8 leans forward at the waist and stares in toward his catcher. He doesn’t seem really sure of himself, but not many 9-years-olds would be in this moment. His team’s up one run, and the bases are loaded. There are two outs with two strikes — the team is one pitch away from advancing to the finals in the biggest tournament of the year. The hurler, who lacks experience, especially in such a big moment, grips the ball with trembling fingers. He toes the rubber, sets his hands, and launches the pitch toward the mound. Ball one. The next two pitches follow suit, leading to a full count, three balls and two strikes. With Jello legs, the young pitcher turns toward the dugout, where I vocally assure him I have full confidence in his abilities…

The dog days of summer are upon us, which, hopefully, means you and your teams are overcome with an abundance of work. While running calls from sunup to sundown can certainly be beneficial to the company’s bottom line, many contractors are challenged with finding enough able bodies to meet their customers’ needs.

Summer is a busy time for many, myself included. When I’m not researching heat pump trends, chatting with refrigeration contractors, or attending HVAC conferences, you can find me on a baseball diamond. I currently serve as the head coach of my son’s 9U travel baseball team, the Warriors Baseball Club, which has birthed numerous major league standouts, including D.J. LeMahieu.

While I absolutely enjoy it, this extracurricular commitment has nearly evolved into a second full-time job. There are many hurdles involved in serving as a skipper of a ball club (I could write an entire column about the demands of overzealous youth sports parents, but I’ll digress for now). Chief among them is personnel. On any given weekend, our ball club, which consists of 11 players, has to win as many as six games over a two- or three-day span to earn the tournament championship. At six innings a game, that’s as many as 36 innings of baseball. And not only do we have to play 36 innings, we have to Frankenstein together 36 innings of pitching. Admittedly, we have a few “prizefighters,” aka kids capable of pitching multiple innings in big moments, but outside of those precious arms, our outcomes get a bit fuzzy. Things could go well or, depending on the day and kid, not so well.

Does this sound like your team as well? Sure, you have a few ace technicians on your team, who you trust to handle almost any task, but unfortunately, they can’t run every call for you. Much like my players are limited by pitch counts and innings pitched restrictions, your star techs are strapped by time, effort, attention, etc. You don’t dare push them too hard because they may simply succumb to the workload (just as young arms need rest), jump to another team, (travel baseball tryouts always lead to a clusterbumble of cuts and additions), or simply lose effectiveness due to the stress (more and more young players are getting Tommy John surgery due to increased stress at a young age).

More often than not, you are going to have to rely upon your bullpen to reach your goals. This means placing employees in uncomfortable positions. In moments like these, you have to trust you’ve created the best training process and culture possible. Through your training, you’ve laid the foundation for them to strive for excellence in everything they do — from sales to technical service to soft skills interactions — regardless how big the contract. Thus, once you’ve acclimated them to the waters, it’s up to them if they sink or swim. For your business to have success, you have to progress them out of the kiddie pool and let them earn their keep.

Number 8 slowly sulks back toward the pitching rubber. He looks as though he’s about to throw up. He peeks over to the dugout again, looking for some magical motivational mustard. “Don’t let the moment be too big,” I offer, trying not to trip over my tongue. “Pretend it’s your big brother batting up there. You’re not going to let him beat you. See your target and attack it.” He cracks a smile. I volley one back. His confidence seems to have returned. With a deep breath, he rears back and tosses one toward home with more oomph than ever before. The batter swings and misses. The ballgame is over.

Regardless who is running the call, trust your process, and the results will follow. Of course, you’re not always going to win the game, but when you do, it’ll pay dividends for the confidence of all parties — the customer, the company, and the employee.