It was 2006, and Kevin Mench was inching up on the competition. The Texas Rangers right-fielder found out mid-April that he had been wearing the wrong size shoes for years. “Shrek” (as he was known by his teammates at the time because of his size 8 head) wears a size 12 1/2” shoe, but he had been cramming into size 12” sneakers since he was fifteen.
The revelation came after a recurring sprained toe forced him to miss five games early in the year. The ball club sent him to a foot specialist, who quickly diagnosed what was cramping Mench’s style. After the minor correction to his footwear, Mench began to pick up his pace. Having failed to drive in a single run during the first ten games of the season, Mench drove in 27 immediately following the half-inch upgrade. Even better, during the same timeframe, he dinged ten home runs (seven of them in a row and two for grand slams).
People change. Circumstances change. Maybe yesterday’s “perfect fit” for your team is now confining to them. Some team members may have outgrown their jobs and need new challenges. We know from data gathered by the Hay Group (from 500,000 exit interviews) that the most common reason your top hitters will go into free agency (how much mileage can I get from this metaphor?) is because they don’t have enough learning opportunities to develop their skills. But give them some growing room, and watch them start to hit for the stadium lights.
Take new measurements on each of your team members on a regular basis. You may be surprised at how much they’ve grown!