If you know me, you know that I'm a big Red Sox fan. This is always a tough week, because baseball goes into midseason hibernation, with no games scheduled on the Monday before and Wednesday after the All-Star Game. (In fact, those two days are the only days in the calendar without any games in the four major North American sports.) (The fourth one is hockey, although I'll entertain arguments that it's not a major sport.)
But even without a Red Sox game on the schedule (they even have today off, more's the pity), I thought it appropriate to showcase an important management and HR lesson from the majors.
Every HR pro and manager should read "Pedroia benefits from the embrace of hardball’s softer side," by Dan Shaughnessy, an award-winning sports columnist for The Boston Globe. Dan is hands down the Globe's best writer, sports or otherwise.
The article, from a week ago, talks about how the Red Sox All-Star second baseman and reigning American League Most Valuable Player Dustin Pedroia was scratched from a game to be with his wife, Kelli, who was hospitalized with late-pregnancy complications. The Sox ended up getting blown away, 6–0, by the A's. Dan writes:
No problem. The important thing was that Kelli Pedroia was OK and Dustin Pedroia had some peace of mind.
The episode is a perfect demonstration of Terry Francona’s managing style and the evolution of old-fashioned hardball rules. In the bad old days, players heard about family emergencies and baby deliveries via Western Union. Management did not encourage players to leave. Ever.
Not anymore. Today, the Red Sox get it. Family comes first. Dan sums it up:
Players’ families come first. It earns him a lot of loyalty in his clubhouse.
“Times have changed,’’ said Francona. “Different people probably feel differently. If one of our players’ wives is giving birth, I think they should be there. I just feel what I feel and do what I feel is right.’’
Pedroia certainly won’t forget these last few days. He has new appreciation for his bosses.
“It’s the best,’’ he said. “The Red Sox organization. [GM] Theo [Epstein] texted me late last night. My whole team. That’s why we’re a great team, because we care about each other.’’
To my thinking, it's no coincidence that the Red Sox are the only team to have won the World Series twice this decade, and that they currently lead the American League. (Pedroia, who fans voted in to be the starting second baseman on the AL All-Star team, also ended up skipping the Midseason Classic to be with his wife. Again, Sox management was completely supportive.)
Do you want your team to lead its division? Remember what's important to your players, and they'll remember that.