Baseball and Organizational Health: Why Team Chemistry Matters
November 15, 2015
Well, the parade is over and everyone has the t-shirt,
but Kansas City is still reveling in our Royal’s World Series win against the Mets!
“I didn’t believe in team chemistry all that much until I started running some baseball teams. The difference in attitude and results was amazing and now I think it’s hard — not impossible, but hard — to do great things with an unhappy team.” – Lee Judge (KC Star)
The Royals postseason couldn’t be a better example of why team chemistry matters – here’s 3 big reasons:
Happy teams simply perform better. KC Star journalist Vahe Gregorian says, “to watch the animated Royals on the field or be around their interaction in the clubhouse is to understand a certain sense of connection that bench coach Don Wakamatsu puts like this: ‘I don’t know if anybody can physically describe it,’ he said, ‘It’s more of a feeling of walking in a room and knowing guys have your back; it’s a special thing.’ That’s why seeing the Royals celebrate together is a big deal: it’s a sign that they’re happy for a teammate and when teams like each other, they tend to play better. Guys are willing to do whatever it takes to win a game; even if it means letting someone else stand in the spotlight.” Whether it's practice or game time, a meeting or a collaborative project, people that don’t feel a sense of connection or chemistry don’t really like to spend time together, and the results will reflect that.
Cohesive teams are more resilient. The Royals trailed in 40 games during the regular season and came back to win. In 8 of their 11 post season wins they overcame a deficit. In game 1 of the World Series the Royals were down 1 in the 9th and tied the game with an Alex Gordon home run. They went on to beat the Mets in a brutal 14 inning game. Not only will cohesive teams outlast every other team (it just doesn’t occur to them they will lose), but they quickly rally when the team falls behind because of a mistake. In that game gold glove first baseman Eric Hosmer made a costly fielding error allowing the Mets to take the lead. No one in the Royals dugout is going to waste time laying blame, on the contrary they are more than eager to pick up their teammate – thrilled to see him be the hero with the game winning RBI in the 14th inning. It was fitting that the Royals would again tie game 5 in the 9th and win the Series in extra innings. Teams that have great chemistry more easily overcome challenges and recover from setbacks.
Strong teams are more stable. Now baseball is a business and no one is expecting the Royals roster to look exactly the same next season but most likely the core of the team will remain. Players whose contracts are up, becoming free agents, are probably hoping they can work out a mutual deal and stay right where they are. People in healthy organizations who feel a strong sense of connection with those they work with aren’t constantly polishing their resume or searching online for another job.
Team chemistry for the Royals didn’t just happen, it has been painstakingly cultivated by GM Dayton Moore, manager Ned Yost, the staff, scouts and coaches. It’s not easy. It’s time consuming. But team chemistry is worth it.