3 Things Organizations Can Learn From the Blue Jays

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3 Things Organizations Can Learn From the Blue Jays

Now that the Blue Jays have finished their incredible season, I have been thinking about the baseball year, how far the Toronto Blue Jays have come and what contributed to their success.

Consider that the team reached the playoffs for the first time since 1993, ending what was the longest playoff drought in North American professional sports at the time. Early in the season they showed signs of the team they would become but they were unable to sustain any significant wins. At the all-star break, the middle of the season, the Blue Jays record was 51 wins and 50 losses. They were barely winning half their games. In contrast, they finished the season with a record of 93 wins and 69 losses clinching first place for their division. What led to this major turn-around in the second half and what can organizations learn from it?

1. Don’t be afraid of change.

Faced with another year of not making the playoffs, the team decided after the all-star break that they were not going to roll over and play dead. Instead they took action. A number of players that were popular with fans but who were not gelling with the team inside the clubhouse were traded. New players were brought in – Donaldson, Tulowitski, Price – who would ultimately be significant contributors to the team’s success. It was a complete shake up on the field as the GM realized “you can’t expect different results if you are to keep doing the same thing over and over” (Albert Einstein). The GM was not afraid of change and knew that to be successful you have to make difficult decisions and bold moves to achieve your vision. When an organization is not on the right track there are times when you have to part ways with those that are hindering your success and bring in the talent you need.

2. It’s all about the fit.

Not only did the Blue Jays’ GM bring in the talent needed, he brought in the personalities that were needed in the clubhouse to help the players become a successful team. In the first half of the season it appeared there were players that did not fit with the group. They were seen off to the side and not mixing with other players. After the player changes were made, word got out that the team was not only exciting on the field but were having a great time off the field spending time together and eating meals together. The personal relationships that were developing led to a more cohesive team on the field. As many organizations have realized, it is not enough for an employee to have the skills an organization needs. They also have to be a person that will get along with the rest of the team and fit the culture of the organization.

3. Everyone has an important role.

This seasons Blue Jays also recognized that winning is not just about the nine players on the field. There is a whole team behind them of players, coaches, trainers and administration. Many people provided the support necessary for the players to be successful, and the organization’s leadership made the effort to recognize the value of these supporting roles. For instance, when the Blue Jays were clinching the division out of town, the GM took a number of front office personnel to sit in the front row of the stadium and watch the game. When the team entered the playoffs, suited up and on the bench were players like Kawasaki and Buerhle even though they were not on the roster and would not be playing. The GM recognized that they provided a positive impact to player morale just being there. Organizations know that there can be those people whose personalities offer more to the team then their actual skills and that there is great value in that.

So thank you Blue Jays for the wonderful year! And thank you for teaching organizations to not be afraid of making drastic changes, the importance of hiring the right fit and how to recognize the important role everyone plays on a successful team. See you next season!

Elizabeth Hill
Partner & Senior Consultant
November 2015

How Pesce & Associates Can Help
Our Consultants have decades of experience working with the Employment Standards Act and helping clients ensure they are compliant. We utilize a Compliance Assessment Review process to ensure organizations are compliant with all employment related legislation. To discuss how we can assist you, please contact Elizabeth Hill, Partner & Senior Consultant, at ehill@pesceassociates.com or 416-491-1501 ext. 23.

For further information on the full range of human resources consulting services offered by Pesce & Associates, please visit our website at http://www.pesceassociates.com.

One of the Most Important Decisions Effective Leaders Make

I have read many books and articles on the topic of leadership. Most of them discuss how to lead staff to the achievement of outstanding results or the qualities of great leaders. Most of these writings seem to be making the assumption that the staff that they lead are all competent and fit in very nicely with the culture of the workplace needing only inspired leadership to achieve great results. The other day I was reading another list of leadership qualities that would create outstanding results and a thought occurred to me; What if some employees are not competent or don’t fit into the workplace culture, what happens to the results leaders are seeking? The easy answer is that the results will suffer and the obvious solution of terminating these employees is very expensive in both money and time. Correcting hiring errors are time consuming and prevent an organization from getting into a work flow that is productive. Inspired leadership will do little to overcome bad hires. This realization reminded me of what I have known for years that hiring the right people that fit your organization is the most important action to take along with sound leadership to achieve success. How do we determine what the right person looks like? Following are some important factors to consider: • Do you have a strategy for growing your business and does it include the skills and experience you are going to need? • Is your organizational structure efficient and effective especially the reporting relationships? • Are your job descriptions up to date? • In addition to education, skills and experience have you identified the personal qualities that an individual must possess to succeed in your organization? This will ensure a proper fit in the organization. Hiring the right person in today’s workforce environment requires great care to determine the skills, abilities and the qualities required for the individual to succeed. It takes time up front to complete the task but in my opinion it is worth it because the right person in a well organized enterprise is the necessary foundation for successful leadership. At Pesce & Associates we have the skills and experience to assist you in developing proper hiring processes and strategies. Visit our website http://www.pesceassociates.com for more information on our services. Angelo Pesce Partner and Principal Consultant March 19, 2015

Why Didn’t You Tell?

Why didn’t you tell? Over the last couple of weeks since the news about Jian Ghomeshi broke, that question is being asked, and actually answered, by many women. Women who have experienced harassment, degradation and violence from men they knew. As horrific as the Jian Ghomeshi stories are, the upside has been a spark in debate and open discussion about violence against women; a long overdue conversation. For some reason the publicity of the events has led to a public safety zone where women can come forward with their stories without being shamed and blamed.

On the noon hour CBC phone in last week many women called in to answer the question the host was asking. – “Why didn’t you tell?” One after another described abuse – both physical and sexual – that they had never disclosed. Their courage and braveness in speaking out was inspiring.

For many of them the reason for not telling at the time of the abuse was shame. But also because they knew that speaking out and reporting to the police would lead to a process every bit as traumatizing as the event itself. These were primarily stories about abuse from men they knew and they were aware that the question they’d be asked is ‘why did you put yourself in a position like that?’ They knew their sexual history would become a topic for in-depth discussion and that they would have to face those who judged their past behaviour as some sort of reason for them to be abused.

All of Jian Ghomeshi’s alleged victims have reported this as being a core reason why they did not tell. By reporting the violence they would have been forced to publicly battle a beloved public figure in a “he said, she said” war. It is understandable why they would not want to put themselves through that. The system is established in a way that re-victimizes those who come forward.

It also explains why so many women suffer sexual, verbal and physical harassment in the workplace without ever speaking out especially when it comes from a person in power. Who will believe them? Who will say that they asked for it? For many it is simpler just to leave. This is understandable, but the problem is the abuser will just find another victim.

This also goes for those who are victims of bullying in the workplace. Many suffer in silence afraid of the consequences of coming forward. The greatest fear I have found is that they worry no one will believe them, nothing will be done about it other than an investigation and after it all they will have to return to working alongside the bully who is now even angrier and ready to retaliate.

How many of us have in-depth policies and procedures on harassment and bullying in the workplace? Yet from what I have seen there is still not many workplace cultures where it is believed by employees that harassment and bullying will not be tolerated, perpetrators will be stopped and victims are completely safe speaking out. And as I’m writing this I am trying to think of the reason why.

But I can’t. I suppose there isn’t one reason why. At the end of the day it comes down to strong leadership both in the workplace and society.

Those in positions of power and leadership, women and men, must stand up and say enough. We must provide a culture and society where victims are believed and not blamed. Where the perpetrator only shoulders the shame. Where we never have to ask again “why didn’t you tell?”


Elizabeth Hill
Partner & Senior Consultant