HR’s field of dreams

Lessons from the ball diamond can help HR transform from transactional to strategic
By Monica Belcourt
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 09/01/2009

Billy Beane, general manager of the Oakland Athletics, wanted to find out what player skills lead to winning games. Using sabermetrics, a process that analyzes past performance in baseball such as batting averages, bunting, stealing and getting to base, he found the hitters most skilled at getting to base were most strongly linked to winning scores.

So the Oakland A’s hired these types of players and did not have to pay a premium for them because other teams did not value this competency. Since implementing this HR strategy, the Oakland A’s have been near the top of the league’s standings, despite having one of the lowest payrolls in Major League Baseball.

Strategic human resources management is about using HR programs to shape employee competencies to achieve an organizational goal. In the case of the Oakland A’s, the goal was to win. The HR strategy was to select and develop the competency — superior skills at getting to base — that facilitated the achievement of that goal. HR departments that want to play a strategic role in the organization could use this simple HR strategy example.