Finding Your Baseball “Why”
This is an excerpt from Jenna Byrnes’ chapter in “The GM’s Handbook” which is available now in paperback, Amazon Kindle and Kindle Unlimited. It is cited, indexed and professionally edited, providing perspectives from 16 MiLB C-Suite Executives on leadership, hiring/firing/interviews, merchandise, tickets, concessions, corporate sales and the business of sports revenue generation.
‘I want to get into management.’
Such a short, simple phrase that seems innocent enough. It is often the answer a recent college graduate gives me when I ask about their professional goals. But management is not a word with only one meaning. It should unleash a multitude of thoughts and feelings on anyone who dares to venture down the path. The gravity of the responsibility that comes with managing others is greater than most anything else in business.
It is not just getting to make all the decisions and getting to do whatever you want, or telling others to do whatever you want. In order to be a successful manager, you absolutely have to shift your priorities to focusing on the best interest of the organization, then your team, then yourself. To be clear, most people view management and leadership as separate ideas, those two words are interchangeable to me even though they have two different meanings.
My expectation is anyone who is a manager is also a leader. A manager must passionately lead others, build their value, simultaneously draw inspiration from them and inspire them at all times to drive the overall business value. When I was young, I thought being in management meant getting to make decisions that other people had to listen to and follow. It all sounded so great, compared to the stark reality. Management means having to make hard decisions, instead of merely easy ones. There are decisions that will haunt you at night because they have repercussions on people’s income, living status and employment.
My professional work existence has transitioned into constantly thinking about and making decisions to create an environment of success for the team members that work for us. A frequent question we get asked during an interview is what type of work environment we have. This answer has evolved over the recent years as I’ve identified some of the most important things about our culture and our principles.
In the organizations that I’ve led, we believe strongly in providing continuous and direct feedback. We start all team members with a strong foundation of training and then find ways to revisit the training and grow upon it. My career and many others on our leadership team has benefitted from a promotion from within mentality, identifying top performers and seeking new ways to challenge them, even if at times that challenge will stretch them before they are ready. And finally, a work hard, play hard mentality from our team members.
At the Oklahoma Dodgers, we find that people who are competitive and fun gravitate toward working in sports, which is great because we spend a lot of time together, so fun is better than not fun, right? But more than just fun, we want teammates that go the extra mile and take pride in providing unsurpassed internal and external customer service. Some people are built for that, some aren’t. Many people who work with us are not from Oklahoma, we have around 50 full-time employees and they are from all over the country. What has become apparent in my time recruiting new team members to Oklahoma is that our staff don’t want to relocate simply for a job, they are looking for and evaluating a lifestyle.
It comes back to that management comment that I hear from a lot of recent graduates over the past few years. It’s a common reply uttered as a long-term goal answer. Because it sounds good to them. However, when I follow up by asking what department or process they want to manage, the answers diminish to a variation of “I don’t know, anything is fine.” It is concerning that college graduates have serious misconceptions about what goes into a managing dynamic, especially when it comes to people that they will supervise. If they do not have a clear understanding of the impact of a good manager, it means that they do not know the difference that a positive or negative management style can have on an organization or its people.
The ability to communicate can effect whether someone possesses a positive or negative management style. Communication used to be an afterthought, something that fell into the ‘nice but not necessary’ category. Now communication is a must. Providing employees with transparent and fast communication is an expectation. We live in a world where information is at your fingertips all day, every day. The typical social media user sees 285 pieces of content daily which is about 54,000 words.
I just Googled that and adweek.com provided this staggering statistic in less than 15 seconds. Employees don’t separate wanting the latest, real-time information in other aspects of their life from their work life. There is an expectation that leaders communicate and keep teammates as up to date as CNN news alerts. We’ve been challenged in our style for communicating to employees in recent years.
Not that long ago, our senior leadership believed strongly that we needed to have all the details, potential outcomes, and questions we’d be asked thought through completely before sharing information with our team members. It wasn’t a power play, or a need to keep information from them, it was an intent to have all of our ducks in a row to reinforce to the team that we were prepared.
Now, and don’t get me wrong, our intent is always to be thorough and have looked at a topic through every angle, but we are more likely to introduce a concept to the team members along the way, with more information to come. Seek some feedback, be nimble and adapt as we go. It’s a reflection of the ‘on demand’ world and it matches up to how our team members are receiving communication in all other areas of their lives.
In addition to this, we have created five unique methods for our team members to provide feedback that range in their formality. We emphasize once they join the team that we expect them to provide feedback, but to do it in a constructive manner, using one of the various communication channels. This has created a meaningful difference in the conversations we are having with our team members now versus just three years ago.
Discover the rest of “The GM’s Handbook,” a new 390-page book available now in paperback, Amazon Kindle and Kindle Unlimited. It is cited, indexed and professionally edited, providing perspectives from 16 MiLB C-Suite Executives on leadership, hiring/firing/interviews, merchandise, tickets, concessions, corporate sales and the business of sports revenue generation.