Why you want to be a Utility Infielder

Keeping with my current trend to relate business and the world of work with baseball has been fun and entertaining for me and I hope the analogies I draw are not lost on you when you read these posts.  If you have not figured it out yet I am smitten with baseball and I could talk about it or watch it almost endlessly.  Maybe my real goal in life should have been to be a baseball coach, but I think I’ll keep doing my Executive Search and Leadership Consulting work in the meantime.

What do you think of when you see the term utility infielder?  Here is a general description from my baseball perspective:

A utility infielder is someone who can play multiple positions.

While many players focus upon a single role, such as first base, catcher or outfield, a utility infielder or utility player has the capability and the capacity to play multiple roles.  This may not be a needed function on a daily basis, but it can pay great dividends when the right circumstances present themselves.

I think you get the point regarding utility and baseball.  Why is this important in the world of work and how do you become a utility player?

Many of us go to college to learn a specific body of knowledge.  My original degree is in Engineering Physics, a derivative of Electrical Engineering, but I don’t do any of that kind of work now.  Along the way I picked up a number of other skillsets and that knowledge and experience help me daily in my present work because they provide a context to draw upon.  I can see the world from many perspectives and this allows me to aid my clients by knowing more specifically what they are looking for in a top performer.

Having workers with multiple experiences and skillsets helps the business in many ways.  Here are just a few:

  1. They have exposure to more areas of the business
  2. They see how the different functions of the business interface and integrate (or don’t integrate)
  3. They are more strategic in their thinking because they see the “whole pie” and not their piece

I have a client that is very focused on finding talented individuals who not only understand one area well, but who also have the capability and interest to move into related areas at a future time.  I think this client is being wise to pursue these types of individuals because you never know what is going to happen in life and in business and it behooves all of us to have a backup plan in mind incase the unforeseen occurs.

As you think about your career don’t just plan on going straight up.  Consider what it might be like to go up in your current segment as well as move over to another function.  Being a great accountant is wonderful, but being an accountant with operations or HR experience might be even better.

You never know when you might be called upon in the bottom of the 9th to come in and play that position you don’t normally play.  Your team is depending upon you.  Will you be ready?