So the Chicago Cubs finally broke the curse of the Billy Goat and after 108 years have finally been crowned the best team in Baseball once again.
There is no obvious link to HR in that story itself but I found the history of the curse of the Billy Goat an interesting one and how this became a legitimate barrier to the team being successful once again. For those not aware the curse was placed on the team in 1945 when the owner of the Billy Goat Tavern was told he couldn't take his billy goat mascot to the games anymore due to his odour upsetting other fans. The owner allegedly announced 'Those Cubs ain't gonna win any more' and the curse was born. The curse became an anchor round the clubs neck and it looked possible it may never be broken.
So the link to HR? Well normally we look at ways that a business can grow and be successful/efficient and these are things like product development and research, implementing new technology and improving efficiency in staff. This barrier however appeared to be a wholly mental one and not one that a change in structure or approach would resolve. Most sports teams look to build a successful side through player development and recruitment and despite the Cubs employing talented players over the years they were never able to beat the curse.
What sort of approach does an organisation take to overcome something that is not physically measurable?
Does staff wellbeing and mental health approach affect this?
Without knowledge of what goes on inside the organisation we can only speculate that there has been an approach to minimise the mental impact that the curse and its perceived influence in public had on the players and management. The success of this type of approach is clear in the victory in the World Series (after being 3-1 down in a first to 4 race no less) after 108 years without a real sniff.
What the victory shows to me is that it is important not only to have the right staff in the right roles but to also give them the mental support to not let things out of their control (such as the curse) impact on their ability to perform to the highest ability.
The same approach and thought process can be used in other industries and markets that suffer from public perceptions like a ‘curse’. Financial institutions that are viewed as nothing more than money grabbers, interested in their own wealth and success. Governments who are seen as only looking out for their own people and ignoring the needs of the masses. Big business who are viewed as putting profits above everything else.
Whilst they may not suffer from a curse, the staff who work in these areas may still be affected by the public perception even if in most cases it is false. Staff just want to come to work and give their best everyday but see that even with all their efforts, the business is still viewed negatively in a way that is almost impossible to alter.
The takeaway from the Cubs victory with a HR hat on is that whilst it is important having the best employees and the best facilities to succeed. We must also look to make sure that we have covered the mental wellbeing side for every employee ensuring that they are able to address any hurdles that can hinder performance and output (even those hurdles that are mythical curses)