Building Your Championship Team

If you’re tired of reading about the Kansas City Royals you may want to stop now.  But the bottom line is, these Royals offer so many take-a-ways for success in business (and life) it is almost a disservice to not write about it in a forum created for that.   Plus, it provides a few more opportunities to read the words… “World Series Champion Kansas City Royals!” 🙂

Building a championship team takes a lot planning, hard work, and dedication.   We often talk about the need for strong leadership and defining core values to build a sound business.  Dayton Moore and the Royals organization have clearly excelled at those foundational components.   But there is another major contributor in their rise from cellar dweller to World Champion and all businesses can benefit by adopting some form of what they have developed.  It’s their farm system (development/training program).

It Starts with Leadership

Dayton Moore deserves a tremendous amount of credit for building a team that fits the culture of the Midwest.  One of his first initiatives after being hired was to start building a team that aligned with the values of the city they represented.   This created cohesiveness between the team members as they developed and their community as a whole….and ultimately a reason for 800,000 people to attend a victory parade celebration!   Check out this video by Flatland blended with the now famous speech by Jonny Gomes!

….and a Value System

Moore spoke at a luncheon earlier this year and stressed the amount of time and effort his coaching staff and scouts put into deciding what players are the best fit for the team.   He made it clear that just because an athlete is a good player at a position, doesn’t make them a good fit for the Royals.  Your team should embrace your values and align with them.

But what about your Farm System? (Training program)

If you’re looking for strategies to model from the Royals organization, this is one that definitely contributes to long term success.   We already know the Royals will lose some high quality players this off season….some may be fan favorites. 🙁   Part of the structure of baseball (as it is with most businesses), is that there is a limited amount of money for employee payroll.  Each year the management team is challenged to assemble the best team possible with the money they have to spend.   For small market teams (like the Royals), who also have smaller budgets, it is even more difficult; if the goal is a quality product.

As a business owner, if you have an employee at the top of their pay scale in their current position, with no additional money to spend or room for advancement, their next best career move may not be with your company.  That is hard to accept.  I am sure Dayton Moore and his staff aren’t thrilled about losing any of their key players either.   But you have to make decisions that are best for your business long term and bloated payrolls can break a business if they are not managed.

Starting your Farm System…

The best hedge for this is to continually be training and looking for new talent.  Create your own farm system.   This isn’t something you create overnight; it will take time, but it really is necessary.  Some business owners get frustrated with the idea of making significant investments in education and training just to have the employee leave.   But what is the alternative?  Not to develop your people?  How is that going to benefit your business?

The best place to start is simply formalizing your orientation process.  Then start systematizing the functions of each role with instructional videos, manuals, and hands- on training.  You don’t want to start from scratch every time you have a job opening.

Look at it this way, whether you have 50 employees or 5,000, if half of them want to eventually own their own business or have a senior management position, the math may simply not work out.  You have to accept that some of them will not be lifelong employees and then be OK with that.  If their next career step is with another company, you have to be thankful for the contributions they made when they were part of your team.  And along the way, you and your business will probably enjoy your own share of victories too!

What are your thoughts on this?  What useful business strategies have you observed in the Royals organization as they worked their way back to a World Championship?

Chris Steinlage Kansas City Business Coach.