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4 Lessons From the KC Royals on How Teams Win Under Pressure

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The Kansas City Royals set the standard for team performance under pressure when they came from behind 2-0 in the 9th inning of Game 5 of the World Series against the New York Mets. They scored two runs to tie the game and won the game, and the World Series, with five more runs in the 12th inning, all while 14 million people watched.  

Kansas City Royals | Facebook

There are high-pressure instances in the workplace that employees face daily, whether it’s needing a last minute proposal for a multi billion dollar prospective client in an hour, or having to make a decision that can impact millions of dollars on the spot. But, like Ned Yost of the Royals, there are things managers can do to coach their teams to overcome any and all pressures, like:

1. Manage the team’s emotions.

There were a lot of emotions Yost had to coach his team through. They started each series behind, faced a 30-year losing streak, lost last year in Game 7 of the World Series, and Edinson Volquez’s father passing. They could have given up and taken themselves out of the game. They could have thought it would never happen to them and carry that attitude throughout, but they didn’t. In the workplace, a good manager gets to know each employee personally to then develop their mental toughness and can overcome these types of situations. Developing an employee’s mental toughness is what helps push them that much harder and makes them want the end result that much more. It’s was drives determination and commitment. Mental toughness is what keeps people going regardless of the circumstances.

Related: Get Angry! Be Passionate! Your Emotions Are Vital to Success.

2. Encourage the second string.

It’s important that managers focus on encouraging and motivating the non-closers and “bench warmers,” because when it comes time for them to step onto the plate after a stretch of not producing, they will be paralyzed by the pressure if not coached throughout. Involve them in meetings, encourage their feedback and contribution on projects. Keep them warmed up throughout so when it comes time for them to step to the plate, they come swinging home runs.

Related: Learning to Embrace Struggles

3. Embrace challenge/competition. 

The Royals were up against the Mets’ two best pitchers, but they didn’t fear the competition. They didn’t let the hype get to their heads. In the workplace, it’s easy for an employee to get defeated if up against a competing agency, or even a star producer within the organization. Managers need to remind their teams to be confident in their skill set and capabilities. They were hired for a reason, they were brought onto the team because someone saw something in them. Managers need to remind them of that.  

4. Refocus failure.

The royals didn’t let 30 years of consecutive defeat and losing Game 7 in last year’s World Series discourage them. Instead they became laser focused targeting all efforts to one goal. The same is true in the workplace. Defeat can be the biggest roadblock; instead managers need to help teams use it to refocus efforts. They need to be transparent in what went wrong and where.

Related: Bouncing Back From Failure, a Fitness Business Gets It Right

Adam Ochstein

Written By

Adam Ochstein is founder & CEO of StratEx, a Chicago-based provider of human resources services and software. Ochstein contributes nationally on the topics of workplace trends, entrepreneurship and careers.