Spring Training – Bringing the runner home

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In this final post of my spring training series, I’d like to make sure I include the concept of sportsmanship. Sticking with my baseball analogy, we are looking now at the culmination of the training and follow up you’ve employed with your team. You want them to feel confident that they can make it to home plate, but you also want them to know that all this work is not just about winning.

baseball sportsmanship

The game we play in the service industry is a bit different than a scored game like baseball. A win does not necessarily mean you have more money in the cash register or you saw more customers in a day; it means you fulfilled your mission as a team. Your business is represented at its best, and your customers had the best possible experience.

For service employees, winning is about being able to WOW a customer – exceeding their expectations and offering them a memorable experience. To do this, employees need to be confident they can give the best service and this happens when they are properly trained and work as part an organized team.

baseball running for home plate

Sometimes, even though we do our best, we might not feel as though we are winning. It’s impossible to connect with every customer, and we can’t make everyone happy. With a good team and support from management, everyone works to give an experience your business would be proud of each and every time. That’s all anyone can ask for.

My motto was always to keep swinging. Whether I was in a slump or feeling badly or having trouble off the field, the only thing to do was keep swinging. – Hank Aaron

Recognizing those employees that always show up to play their best game is important. It’s easy to point out mistakes, but when we applaud good sportsmanship and perseverance we do the hard work. Encouraging a positive environment helps infect everyone with the same mood, just like a sunny day makes people smile.

Here in the Okanagan where so much of our tourism is about outdoor attractions, the baseball rained outweather is a huge factor in people’s enjoyment. As such, there is an old baseball saying that fits well here. I like the way Kevin Costner said it in Bull Durham, as he brings to mind the skills needed, and the Big Picture, just like we need in service work.

This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains. – Bull Durham

By having your team use the skills you teach them, and keeping them in the loop about your strategy for the Big Picture you can ensure they will be working toward the same goal – just like winning on the scoreboard. To quote another Kevin Costner baseball movie,

If you build it, they will come.

Not only will the customers come, but the employees will come as well. Treat them well, recognize their successes, and they will come back as long as your goals align. (Even star players have to retire some time, so remember to wish them well when they do go.)

In closing, I’d like to wish everyone a great season. May the sun shine upon you and your team, and may you have many winning moments to share. Enjoy that seventh inning stretch and get your second wind, and then give it all you’ve got so you can go home proud. After all, as the great Yogi Berra said,

It ain’t over till it’s over.

Or perhaps you like Babe Ruth’s version better:

Babe Ruth.jpg

It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.