What the Cubs Can Teach Business About Winning With Rookies

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If there's one thing the business community can learn from the Chicago Cubs this season, it's that you don't need experience to win.

Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, Addison Russell and Kyle Schwarber are all rookies. ROOKIES! Aside from a few games the previous season, they hadn’t played in the major leagues. Now these kids (the oldest is 23) are playing against men who have been doing this for years. A lot of young players are nervous, but these “kids” value the challenge, thrive under pressure and have led the Cubs to their first postseason appearance since 2008.

The same thing can happen when new employees are challenged in the workplace. These are reasons rookies can help companies succeed:

1. Rookies can take on big roles.

Historically, people have said teams can play one or two rookies, but that veteran leadership is needed. The same has been said in business….but why?! Bryant, Soler, Russell and Schwarber were thrown into the fire and forced to figure out how to win while adjusting to the Majors. They were given big positions and stepped up to the plate (literally and figuratively). The Cubs recognized their potential, gave them more responsibility and allowed them to play to their strengths. They were never held back or told they couldn't accomplish something just because they're rookies. 

The same can occur in the office. If you believe recent grads are ready for the challenge, let them have big roles in important projects. Don't be afraid to delegate extra work. Give them a chance to show what they can really do, then recognize their hard work. If they're really excelling, promote them. You don't need to follow a structured timeline.

Create a culture where performance, not just experience, is recognized and rewarded. If your team of experienced professionals was so great, they would close every deal and never make a mistake. We all know that doesn’t happen, so give the kids a chance.

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2. Rookies are adaptable.

Russell moved from second base to shortstop. Schwarber went from behind the plate to left field. They made huge adjustments while adapting to life in "The Show."  They also moved around the order without complaint. They were held accountable to achieve results and there was open communication with leadership. They found the challenge exciting, jumped at the opportunity and figured things out along the way. They didn't take being moved as an insult, as a veteran might. They understood management was trying to develop every individual while achieving results as a team.

More tenured people are typically comfortable in their roles and don’t thrive on change. When they fall into a routine they don't like to step outside of the box. Capitalize on a “rookie” who is flexible and not yet accustomed  structure or a regimented schedule. Rookies will more often be open to taking on a new role or changing managers because those changes come with opportunities. Put your good rookies where you need them because they’ll adapt and shape. They’ll grow as professionals, and help the team grow as a result.

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3. Rookies push and re-energize veterans.

As the new guys on the team, they have something to prove. They want to earn their spot. They want to be the best and show they belong. They want to make a difference. They show up ready to play, every single day. They bring excitement on the field and in the clubhouse. It’s up to the veterans to accept them. Same goes at work in the office. Great things happen when If veterans embrace them and what they are capable of, rather than being jealous and competitive.

Give new talent a chance to shine. Invest in your rookies. Train and develop them. Give them the tools to succeed, then watch them run. Make it fun and realize that the people side of business is equally as important to the technical side.

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