Monday, March 22, 2010

T-ball and the partner track

On a recent Saturday I was preparing to coach a bunch of T-ball players for the first time. I realized before I stepped foot on the field that this wasn’t the same T-ball that I played as a kid. We had championship trophies. After reviewing the rules I learned score isn’t kept (except quietly by parents in the stands) There is no catcher, therefore no dramatic play at the plate, and kids bring their own helmets, in my daughters case a pink one. There were no pink helmets when I played T-ball. The best part for the kids is the snack and drink after. That is pretty much the only thing that hasn’t changed.

I grew up playing baseball in Plantation, FL. Played at a place we called “the rockpit”. Not quite the manicured fields of today, but still was awesome. Coached high school kids that went on to play D-1 ball and 2 are in the majors now.

So I prepared and set out my coaching stations. Watched all of the usual movies to get big first speech direction…Hoosiers, Rudy, Patton.

I made my first critical mistake and it’s one that some firms make when developing associates into partners.

Assuming that there was a baseline of knowledge, I broke the players out. “You all go warm up, play catch and throw, going to take some batting practice, work on some situational plays, maybe some around the horn, a quick game of pepper, and wrap it up with some cut off throws and a 2 mile run.”

As the kids were throwing “at” each other and ducking for cover from incoming balls, hitting the tee very well, but the ball not so much, and when they did creating a 10 kid pileup at the spot of where the ball rested, I realized something.

I assumed because they had been alive and functioning for 5-7 years that they were prepared for a certain level of play. Just because associates have been working for 5-7 years, a lot of firms assume that when they become partners that they can just kinda do their thing and become rainmakers.

It’s the trainer and political junkie in me that has to create themes. “Have fun, learn something, and do your very best.” I ask them after every practice if they have done these things. That’s a pretty good day if they have.

So starting with the end in mind how do I get them there? How do you get rainmakers out of associates?

Putting the fundamentals into a process. How to hold the ball. How to stand. How to hold your hands on the bat. Getting your glove on the ground. Two hands, turn your body, face where you are throwing from the side. Throw and turn your body toward the target. Little successes that lead to getting the most out of being there. Fun, learning, empowered to do your very best once you have something to build on.

For associates or junior partners that want to learn to develop clients. How to prospect. How to build a referral network. How to have a business conversation. How to create value for a client and document that conversation. How to leverage opportunities into larger opportunities. How to measure success in their efforts.

Without a process, they resemble the 10 kid pileups. Every once in a while a kid gets the ball first, throws to first and gets the out. A series of random events tied together with hope and luck.

I have worked with several firms to help them create a measurable and repeatable process. Please contact me at: , or (850) 893-8984 to learn how.