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The True Value of a Rookie: What We Can All Learn from the Cubs

[caption id="attachment_5788" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Chicago Now Chicago Now[/caption]


The Chicago Cubs are on a hot streak. They launched a nine game winning streak this month, including a four game sweep of the San Francisco Giants. A lot has changed for the Chicago Cubs this season, but the biggest factor is obvious: their crop of rookies are outperforming expectations.

Rookies across most sports typically join a team, play very little, learn, and then grow into more experienced players. But four rookies on the Cubs have played pivotal roles in the Cubs’ success, and they could help carry the team into the playoffs.

The same is true in the workplace. Some “rookies,” aka new employees, can make an impact on the company’s bottom line immediately…if given the opportunity.

Here are 3 reasons a company should empower its newest members:

Rookies can take on big roles

In 31 games, Kyle Schwarber has had 8 home runs, 27 RBIs, and had a 12-game hitting streak. In his first year, he’s become the go-to slugger for the Cubs and a key part of their lineup.

He’s been huge,” Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks said of Schwarber, “The whole lineup has kind of taken over the mentality of how he goes about it when he’s up there.”

Whether or not Schwarber’s hot streak will last is uncertain; but while he’s on, the Cubs are taking advantage. They aren’t keeping him on the bench because he’s new or telling him to wait his turn.

Companies often fall into the “role” mentality, telling new employees they have to pay their dues and work for years before they’ll be promoted or recognized. Recognize when your company’s “rookies” are working hard and producing.

If someone deserves to be promoted, promote them. Create a culture where merit is rewarded, not just tenure. If companies don’t recognize high potential talent – no matter their tenure – that talent will go someplace else.


Rookies are adaptable

Lockerdome CubsThroughout the course of the 2015 Cubs season, rookies Addison Russell and Kyle Schwarber have both switched positions on the field. While Schwarber began as a catcher, the Cubs have moved him to left field recently. Addison Russell joined the Cubs as a second baseman, but this August Cubs manager Joe Maddon moved him to shortstop.

While many players change positions throughout their careers, these rookies have been remarkably agile at adopting and excelling in their new roles… and managers should empower new employees to do the same.

Many companies offer rotational programs to new hires, giving them exposure to a range of roles so they can find the right fit. If a promising employee fits at the company but isn’t enjoying their role, give them the option to change jobs internally. They could be a huge difference maker with different responsibilities or on another team.


Rookies push and re-energize veterans

On many teams, an influx of successful rookies who steal the glory could frustrate longtime veterans who feel usurped. But the team’s longtime players have welcomed the rookies into the clubhouse.

"They've been amazing," said catcher Miguel Montero "They've been doing a great job all around. Those guys are incredible and they come to play.”

The team is dancing in the clubhouse; they’re celebrating, playing well, and most importantly, they’re winning. The veterans aren’t creating drama, despite some being benched so the rookies can shine.

Bring in new talent, and give them chances to shine: it can push longtime employees who might have been coasting or feeling unengaged. These employees can be motivated by pressure from below; with a new sense of urgency they could work harder to compete.