Thanks Red Sox! Lessons Learned From a Dreadful Season

What happens when you combine mismanagement, bad relationships, and an unhealthy environment? Well in 2012 — you get the Boston Red Sox! Of course you have seen the Sox in the face of the media for months now, not only because of their inability to win games but because of the chaos within the organization. Time to get off the Red Sox bashing bandwagon and move on – from all of this dysfunction there is a valuable lesson to apply to the corporate world. When you break down the season, it’s pretty clear why things went wrong.

The Team

The players win games right? Well, not so much in this case. You can argue that the Sox have many talented teammates like Ellsbury and Pedroia, yet they still managed to be 20½ games behind the Yankees. They’ve become the first team to miss the postseason after leading by as many as nine games for a playoff spot entering September. So what this tells us is there’s more needed for success than just talented players. In fact, it is a combination of many factors that lead to success – whether that is making the World Series, or flourishing in the corporate world. You can have the smartest and most talented employees working for you, but it’s never enough.

Management

A new manager was hired for 2012 and the Red Sox have their worst season in decades. The team finished last in the AL East at 69-93, ending the year with eight straight losses, losing 26 of their last 33 games. All fingers in Boston are pointed straight at now former manager Bobby Valentine for this disastrous ending. Yes, he made MANY mistakes! Like admitting in April that he didn’t know the Twins pitcher his team was facing was a righty and drew up a lineup for a southpaw – or blowing a 9-0 lead against the Yankees. In a management position of any type, being able to make critical decisions at crucial times is key – the ability to act quickly and smart in unexpected situations is a must.  On the flipside – a manager has to be given the authority to do what needs to get done.  They must feel empowered and confident in their decisions.  Micromanaging a manager is never a good idea.  If someone needs to be micromanaged as a leader, then the wrong person is in charge.  In order to successfully lead a team as a manager you have to have the ability to influence your employees – how can that be when every move is questioned?

Rocky Relationships

Dreadful relationships throughout an organization…a huge factor in the collapse of the 2012 Red Sox.  ESPN reported that “Boston’s unhealthy work environment, is talking about a ‘process to get to know each other and work together in a more synergized way’ and they believe that all parties involved need to work on their relationships.” So they’re acknowledging it – that’s a start!  If you have ever experienced a work environment that lacks solid relationships between co-workers, then you understand the challenges and how it can block production. Without trust, respect, and communication you will not be able to overcome present issues — never mind look ahead to future success.  For a team to perform at their best, overcoming negativity, pettiness and gossip that can drag an organization down is a given. Without nurturing relationships and building cohesive teams, productivity suffers. Throughout the season there were numerous instances of the players and manager not getting along from controversy with Josh Beckett to Kelly Shoppach, and the “attitude” that seemed to come from other players.

So, although they completed their season in horrific and historic fashion, there are lessons to be learned. Standing alone, the players are very gifted. Bobby Valentine is also a very talented manager and former professional baseball player himself. Yet, when these were combined the equation became toxic! The parts make the whole. If they don’t fit, fix it. If your team or management is not willing to be part of the solution, then replace them. Smart and motivated employees, coupled with strong, healthy and mutually respectful relationships make for a winning equation. An organization can have the best management team in place, the most talented players, plenty of money, and still fail. In order to succeed they must work together as a team rather than as individuals and they must respect not only each other but also management!

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