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Four Career Pathing Lessons from the World Series Champion Chicago Cubs

Posted by Brian Sorenson on November 7, 2016

Topics: Workforce Development, career development, Career Pathing

The Chicago Cubs’ recent World Series championship wasn’t the result of luck. Having the best record in baseball with 103 wins and remaining at the top of their division for all but two days in the regular season, the Cubs’ success was instead owed to years of planning backed by strategic thinking and tremendous foresight.

In many ways, the Cubs’ ascent to the top of baseball by putting together a world-class team has a lot in common with how organizations develop their own talent. What organizations lack in scouts, coaches and minor league affiliates they can make up for by taking advantage of quality career pathing solutions. Pathing software such as CAEL’s PathSavvy allows organizations to hire, develop and retain the employees they need to reach their goals.

Here are four key takeaways from how the Cubs’ management fielded a championship-caliber team that highlight the importance of career pathing for hiring and retaining winning talent.    

  1. The Cubs strategically planned for the future. In 2011, the year the Cubs hired Theo Epstein as president of baseball operations, the Cubs lost 91 games. In 2012, four years before the Cubs won their first World Series championship since the Ottoman Empire was still in existence, the Cubs lost 101 games, their worst record since 1966. The next year, the Cubs lost 96 games. As recently as 2014, in fact, the Cubs lost 89 games, good for last place in their division. Through those tough years, Epstein and the Cubs held steadfast to the belief that focusing on short-term gains would mortgage the team’s future. Consequently, the team focused on bringing over players who would be with the team for years to come, when its young talent would be ready to help their team. Pathing Lesson: Organizations must plan today for filling tomorrow’s roles. The right pathing software can give insight needed for succession planning, including providing personalized employee roadmaps that detail the skills and knowledge they’ll need to possess to excel at them.
      
  2. The Cubs knew the importance of developing their own talent. Epstein and the Cubs knew that to succeed in the increasingly competitive arena that is Major League Baseball, the team would need to groom its own talent. By eschewing costly contracts for well-established players in lieu of developing players from within the organization, the team could focus on cultivating its own talent to respond to the team’s specific needs, saving money to boot. Pathing Lesson: Hiring from outside is a costly and time-consuming process. In contrast, hiring from within allows you to choose from employees who have already demonstrated success in your organization and who you know is a good fit for your organization’s culture. Best of all, a career pathing solution can help you identify the right employee for the job, matching employees’ skills, interests and goals with suitable vacant positions.

  3. The Cubs didn’t let old ghosts get to them. Whenever media asked any player on the Cubs about their thoughts on the failures of teams past, their responses were generally the same: past misfortunes have no bearing on current chances for success. A young team with no connection to past letdowns, the Cubs were unwilling to let narratives of curses, goats and October failures affect their pursuit of a championship. Pathing Lesson: Scalable by design, the right career pathing software can help employees at any level, irrespective of their past experiences. Organizations which may have struggled hiring or retaining the right talent in the past can also benefit from pathing software, helping HR and organization leaders create their own success stories however far along their organization may be in achieving its goals.  
        
  4. The Cubs embraced the target. After making a late-season run in 2015 that took many fans by surprise, the Cubs entered 2016 the heavy favorite to win the World Series. Acknowledging that fact, Cubs manager Joe Maddon proclaimed before the season that the team’s goal would be to “embrace the target.” In this way, Maddon encouraged his players to reach their potentials, preparing them to achieve the levels of success he—and baseball prognosticators everywhere—knew they could reach. Pathing Lesson: Like athletes, many employees have untapped potential that can only be reached if it’s properly identified and groomed. Career pathing software helps employees and organization leaders alike identify that talent and devise actionable methods to bring it to the forefront. When employees are made to feel like their organization respects and encourages their need for personal and professional development, everyone wins.
  

You don’t need to be a baseball fan to appreciate the significance of the Cubs earning their first World Series championship since 1908. Any time an organization accomplishes something it hasn’t accomplished in 108 years, lessons abound. Use this historic event to reflect on how your organization can make the appropriate moves to field the right players who can lead your organization to greatness.

For more information on CAEL’s new PathSavvy career pathing software, click here.