To Recruit The Right Talent Think Like a Baseball Scout

Baseball scout at game

This fourth of July, I enjoyed a game at our regional Single-A affiliate stadium, with sun, beer, brats, and great baseball. We also had the pleasure of sitting next to 2 scouts, who were clocking pitches, detailing the stats and performance of every player on the field. They had been following all the teams in the division and attending every game, including taking videos of key player performances, as well as the stadium, noting attendance and atmosphere. A detailed analysis indeed.

So what does this have to do with recruiting and retaining talent for your organization? Everything. Scouts know not only exactly what they need, but the specific skills, talents, and potential they are looking for when they are seeking a player. While they do have a large pool of talent to choose from, they don’t simply review lists of statistics and pick out the “best shortstop” in the bunch. They look beyond the numbers, analyzing attitude and performance under pressure. In short, it’s a combination of what the “resume” says and how they actually perform on the field, over a series of multiple observations.

It’s true that the scout won’t know if that player is going to get into a 3-month slump or get a season-ending injury, but they do know how to identify potential, as well as provide guidance to the manager on potential coaching needs.

To truly scout talent, an organization needs to understand what strengths and weakness they have on their current “roster” and how this matches the business’s plans now and in the future. Companies looking to build a top-caliber team should also consider the range of definitions and the subtle differences between the terms of recruiting and scouting.

  • “recruiting” (verb) – to find suitable people and get them to join a company, an organization, the armed forces, etc. OR to persuade (someone) to join you in some
  • “scouting” (verb) – to explore in order to obtain information OR to find by making a search

If the definitions don’t suggest a highly passive vs. proactive approach, consider the visuals of an army recruiting site where individuals present themselves to join versus the professional sports team where scouts find and follow a prospect for years believing their potential will grow into A-level talent.

Organizations that wait until they have a need to fill their roster, and then send out a call for those interested to join, will be at a significant disadvantage to those organizations that truly scout for talent to fill current needs but also look for potential to develop and groom for the future team.

For most small companies, their rush to fill a demanding and immediate requirement continually trumps the ability to scout and fill a roster both now and for the future.

If you want to start shifting from recruiting to scouting, here are a few ways to start:

Develop a talent plan that aligns to your business plan and key corporate milestones. Consider what you need to achieve with the type of talent you need to achieve it.

Know your current talent. Where did they come from and how did their paths unfold? What hidden skills do they have? Looking at your current talent might help you find hidden stars.

Look beyond your industry. Great talent might not just be in your backyard. Examine not only the potentials within your industry but actively follow those outside who have unique skills and experience which can add a needed dimension to your team.

Be a projector. Make it your business to know potential from a very early stage and well ahead of when someone hits their peak.

Happy scouting!

About the Author

Andrea Belk Olson Andrea Belk Olson has a 20-year, field-tested background that provides unique, applicable approaches to creating more customer-centric organizations. A 4-time ADDY® award-winner, she began her career at a tech start-up and led the strategic marketing efforts at two global industrial manufacturers. In addition to writing, consulting and coaching, Andrea speaks to leaders and industry organizations around the world on how to craft effective customer-facing operational strategies to discover new sources of revenues and savings.

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