With the World Series going on right now, my mind is on baseball when it’s not on work. However, I came across an interesting story that bridges the two in its comparison of the New York Yankees’ and Tampa Bay Rays’ differing approaches to talent.!@!
It’s no secret that the New York Yankees have baseball’s highest payroll — they’ve held that title for a long time. What you might not know is that they’re the only team that pays its roster more than $200 million per year. (In second place is the New York Mets, which has a payroll of approximately $137 million.)
In fact, as the article points out, three Yankees players — Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Jason Giambi — together earn more than every Major League Baseball player in the state of Florida combined. However, those three players — along with most of the rest of the Yankees — have underperformed this year, and the team did not even make the playoffs.
Incidentally, one of the two teams in the state of Florida, the Rays, is making its first-ever appearance in the World Series this year (not to mention the MLB playoffs) after serving as doormats of their division season after season. Tampa Bay accomplished this in spite of the fact that many of its star players — such as B.J. Upton, Matt Garza, Jason Bartlett and Evan Longoria — earn less than $1 million a year.
How did the Rays do it? Simple: They focused in their farm system, developing talented players who came up to the Majors together, instead of spending big money on big names. Or, to put it in HR-speak, they invested heavily in their high-potential program and leveraged it into a team-building tool, rather than trying to assemble a workforce by recruiting external talent. This approach has been used by other “poor but competitive” teams in the MLB, such as Minnesota and Oakland.
Now, this is not to say that looking for talent outside of your organization can’t and shouldn’t be part of your people strategy. To stick with the baseball analogy, some recently successful teams — such as the Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox — have combined effective farm systems with aggressive talent acquisition. Many corporations synthesize their equivalent people programs to great effect. But in leaner times, such as those we’re in now, it’s worth considering how your organization can maximize resources by developing talent internally.