The San Francisco Giants are experiencing an amazing run with three World Championships over the past five years. A large part of that success can be attributed to the Giants’ manager, Bruce Bochy, who has won championships with three very different teams. The following are three things every manager in Corporate American can learn from Bruce Bochy:
1) Keep Calm Under Pressure: After the first third of the 2014 season, the Giants had the best record in baseball. Then, over the next third of the season, the Giants experienced a collapse that can only be described as epic. Many managers would have panicked, while others would have thrown their players under the bus. Bochy always seems to maintain the same calm disposition – never too high and never too low – which likely played a significant role in keeping his team from coming apart at the seams during this difficult stretch. Bochy’s players also seem to reflect this same calm demeanor during the most stressful moments of the playoffs. It is uncanny, during each of these championship runs, to watch purportedly more talented teams unravel under the pressure, while Bochy’s teams function at a very high level, seemingly undaunted by the grand stage. Message: Teams reflect their leaders. Keep Calm and Manage on!
2) Not Afraid to Make Tough Personnel Decisions: Bochy routinely rewards those players who produce, rather than those with the highest paycheck or pedigree. In 2010, an overweight and under-producing Pablo Sandoval played a very minor role in the championship run, in spite of being a fan favorite. That same year, Barry Zito, the highest paid Giant, and one of the highest paid pitchers in the game was left off the playoff roster based on poor production. Similarly, highly paid pitcher and fan favorite, Tim Lincecum, was relegated to super-sub status in 2012, and was nearly MIA in the 2014 playoff run. This meritocracy creates a level playing field and could be a big contributor to the Giant’s outstanding team atmosphere. Message: Unwarranted favoritism leads to resentment, reduced morale, a toxic environment, and people leaving for other opportunities.
3) Putting People in Positions to Succeed: While Bochy isn’t afraid to make the tough personnel decisions, he also doesn’t burn bridges. He doesn’t call his players out in the press, or embarrass them publically. He also looks for opportunities to take players who have stumbled and gives them lower profile opportunities to rebuild their confidence. He understands that he may need that player down the road. That same Pablo Sandoval, who was benched in 2010, was a star of the 2012 and 2014 World Series teams. Barry Zito, left off the 2010 roster, was a key cog in the 2012 run, as was Lincecum, who had been demoted from the starting rotation, but flourished in a relief role in 2012. Bochy also is not afraid to make unconventional staffing decisions as circumstances merit. In the 2014 playoffs, Bochy used career first baseman, Travis Ishikawa (who had been out of baseball just a few months earlier) as his left fielder, a position Ishikawa had never played. Ishikawa had a few mistakes in the field, but overall held his own, and, the decision to play him in left field looked pretty sage when Ishikawa hit the home role to send the Giants to the World Series. Message: Even your best people won’t be successful on every project. Look for opportunities to put people in positions where they can be successful and for opportunities where they can build confidence. Also, be open to “out of the box” thinking on staffing decisions – especially in a market where quality candidates are in short supply.
Learn from Boch (as his players call him) and build your own championship team.