The Key to a Successful Team: Lessons for HR

Today I am taking a page from the Kris Dunn’s playbook. He often turns to sports for great lessons in human resources. Last night as I settled in to watch the Atlanta Braves play the Pirates, I turned on the TV to discover that the game was going to be delayed due to rain. The station was playing interviews with players, coaches and the president of the Braves, John Schuerholz. In this broadcast he revealed what he thought was the necessary key to a successful team. I thought there was a lesson for HR in his words.
Mr. Schuerholz has had a very successful career in baseball on the management side of the game. He has worked for Baltimore and Kansas City prior to the Braves. With the Kansas City, under his leadership as General Manager, the team won the franchise’s first World Series in 1985. In 1990 he departed to the Braves and in 1991 the Braves went from worst-to-first and then on to win the World Series in 1995 and racked up 14 consecutive division titles, the most in baseball history. He has now stepped down as GM and has taken on the role of President of the organization. Under his guidance there were multiple Cy Young awards garnered, Golden Gloves and a few MVP awards as well. That is why when he starts talking about what makes for a successful team you start listening.
When the interviewer asked what Schuerholz attributed the team’s success to he said it was two things, player selection and player development. He puts very high value in the scouting system (in HR parlance they are the recruiters). Although he looks at a player’s statistics (in HR parlance that is the resume) he places a heavy emphasis on the views of the scouts (recruiters) to determine if the potential player will fit within the system (company culture.) He recognizes that just having the numbers is not enough to be a good team member. That is a key point for all hiring managers and HR professionals to remember. It is NOT always about just numbers, “FIT” matters too.
The second part of the key for Schuerholz was player development. This is employee development, which encompasses training and development, reward systems, proper evaluation on an ongoing basis, mentoring, coaching and employee relations. Schuerholz however, summed it up by saying that to him player development consisted of respect, caring and fairness.


If there is not a lesson for your management team in those three words then there may not be any hope for your company.

So help your company team hit a homer, win a pennant or capture a World Series ring (ok, enough with the baseball analogies), by following the HR and leadership lessons of John Schuerholz.

5 thoughts on “The Key to a Successful Team: Lessons for HR”

  1. Great article! I agree that team’s success and a companies success can be attributed to hiring the right staff and taking the time to train and develop them. As a business owner you can’t afford to lose customers. It’s time to refocus, re-think, and re-address how our front line people sell and how our managers help facilitate the selling process

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