A old friend of mine is a major league baseball scout. He was a master at finding talent. Over the years he has discovered a couple of gems that might otherwise have gone overlooked. He would tell you that great recruiting can overcome a limited payroll. Don’t believe me, just ask the teams who will be sitting at home watching the major league baseball playoffs this fall.
In the fall of 2014, all the hours of hard work that has been done by the pro and amateur scouting departments of the remaining playoff teams might very well be the difference in who wins the World Series.
As a major league baseball scout myself, I can assure you the scouts won’t be dancing on the field during the celebration holding the World Series trophy in October, however rest assured the players won’t be either if it were not for the scouts.
For leaders, few things are more important than being a great recruiter. The effectiveness of your team depends on you getting this one right. Whether you are building a baseball team, company, school, or law firm, there are some tested strategies of scouting that you should embrace.
1) Define your philosophy and stick to it: Without a doubt, I believe it should start and end with the 3 C’s . . . character, chemistry, and competency. If the person being recruited doesn’t pass any one of the “3 C’s” you would be wise not to go near them.
Character is the foundation of everything you do. If a person can’t be trusted, they are useless to your team. Character involves work ethic, trustworthiness, honesty, loyalty, and even punctuality.
Chemistry takes time to discern, but it is equally important. A friend of mine says, “Life is too short to dance with ugly women.” He doesn’t say it to offend anyone, but rather to remind himself that you better get along with the people you work with. Multiple interviews in a variety of settings will help give you a read on chemistry. A good scout understands that there is more to building a team than what happens on the field. What happens in the clubhouse is by far just as important.
Competency answers the “Can they get the job done” question. Are they proven? Are they skilled? Are they properly trained? Do they have the required relational or financial skills? Competency is different for every position, but ultimately, “Talent Matters.”
If you want to build a great organization you better define your philosophy and refuse to compromise.
2) Protect the culture of your team: Anyone who is going to join your team better bleed what you bleed or you are asking for trouble. They better be seeing the same thing and saying the same thing. A cultural fit is often, though not always, easier to find inside your organization. But whether you hire from within or go outside to find your next team member is irrelevant. What does matter is that they share your vision and values.
A bad cultural fit can be like a cancer to your team. You can’t ignore cancer because it will spread. Don’t hire a weak cell.
3) Know what you are looking for: Professional baseball scouts have certain “tools” that they look for in a prospect. They know that 5 tool players (hit, power, run, throw, and field) are a rarity. However, you can have a great team without having any 5 tool players. A good scout knows the need of the team and he goes and finds the right players that fit the philosophy of the team the GM wants to build.
In business you better know what kind of person you need. If you need a marketing expert, they must understand the market and know what creative looks like. If it is a receptionist you need, find someone who is friendly and personal and who relishes the chance to be the first voice someone hears when they call your organization. However you want to build your team or organization, it is a must to know what you are looking for.
4) Do your homework: As a scout, it is imperative that we do our homework on the players we want to draft. Many years ago I was considering a guy to sign after the draft. It was down between two players and I decided to make a few phone calls on both players. I’m glad I did. One of the coaches I spoke with said that this particular player had poor work ethic and wasn’t always easy to get along with. He had a lousy attitude and was not liked or respected by other players on the team. Red flashing “character & chemistry lights” started flashing in my head. I was stunned, but thankful I had done my homework. I assure you, it is a lot easier to not hire someone than it is to fire them. Do your homework!
5) Leave no stones unturned: My old scouting friend is famous for saying, “If they can play, someone will find them.” Scouts will go anywhere to get their guy.
While pedigree is an indicator of performance, it sometimes can be misleading. There are some great players who went undrafted. Just because a person has an impressive resume or a formal education doesn’t mean they can deliver.
Be diligent and don’t make assumptions. The person you are looking for might not even be in the same line of work that you are needing done. As long as you know what you are looking for and stick to your philosophy, it doesn’t matter where you find the person.
6) Expect to make some mistakes: Let’s face it, there will be times when you will miss. It is a part of drafting baseball players and hiring people. I have experienced the feeling and it is less than pleasant. However it happens. All I can say is learn from your mistakes. They usually are the result of violating one or more of the above strategies. I can tell you that I have made progress through the years. Progress, not perfection. My secret is not that I have gotten smarter. It is that I have embraced and trusted these 6 strategies.
Scouting for potential major league baseball players is not easy work, actually it is quite difficult, however it is vitally important if you want to build a successful team. Stick to these strategies and before long you will be surrounded by winners.
Are there other strategies you would add to the list?