Does your organization value “super utility players?”

As a fan of baseball at all levels, the term utility player is one I have known for decades.  Utility players have the capability to fill in several roles as needed and can really be the difference between success and failure when challenges arise.

Ben Zobrist, now of the Chicago Cubs, is a great example of a “super utility player” in the world of baseball.  Ben has the capability to play several infield and outfield roles and he can perform at a high level in any of these roles.  Having a top performer like Zobrist allows the leadership of the team to use him as needed based on the needs at any given time.

Organizations have a need for “super utility players” also.  You never know when one of your key leaders may be out of commission due to an unexpected life issue.  When gaps like these occur, the companies who have planned ahead will continue to perform at a high level while those who have not will start to flounder and lag due to the lack of flexibility in their lineup.

Finding a utility player on the market can be an expensive task.  Zobrist recently signed with the Cubs for 4 years at a cool $56 million, but you can develop your own utility players for much less if you take the time to plan and invest in the teammates you have now.  Here are a few suggestions you should consider to develop your own utility players:

  • Identify staff members who have multiple skill sets through assessment and also by encouraging managers to observe and gain feedback from the staff they work with
  • Provide opportunities for interested staff members to try other roles that interest them.  Just because someone is skilled in one area or has a specific degree it does not keep them from having other undiscovered or latent skills
  • Develop and implement a staff rotation process for your key performers or “high potentials” so that they can garner a greater understanding of the entire organization
  • Keep the communication channels open with your staff members to ensure you know what their interests are
  • Don’t be afraid to take a risk with someone who has interest even though they have no experience.  A motivated staff member will overcome almost any obstacle if they are focused on success

Not every member of your team will be an all-star, but you can always use another utility player, someone like a Ben Zobrist, in your organization.

It will probably cost you substantially less than $56 million to develop these individuals, but the return could be substantial.