If you haven’t noticed already, this week of blogging is dedicated to “everything baseball” thanks to my all-star team consisting of Coach Sandy Lish, Pitcher Stacy Wilbur, Designated Hitter Jessica Ciccone, Andrea Teixeira (a.k.a. “The Closer”), and me, Field Manager Keri McIntosh.
So I wanted to investigate ways of bringing the magic of baseball to the world of conferences, events and incentives. Even if you aren’t a huge fan of the sport, everyone can get swept away by the camaraderie and spirit of competition that the game provides…not to mention all the sights, sounds and flavors!
Here are a few ideas to turn the theme of baseball into a home run at your next event:
- Inspirational speakers – there are multiple entertainment bureaus that can arrange a speaking engagement or “meet and greet” with some of baseball’s all time greats like Hank Aaron, Carl Ripkin Jr. and Tommy Lasorda. Current or former Red Sox players would work well for locally based events or conferences. Speakers can present lessons learned on and off the field as related to business goals. Make sure the message matches the occasion.
- Spring training event – a fun and interactive way to get the team “tuned up” for the next season (or quarter). Create the setting with batting cages, pitching and hitting games. Depending on the event location (i.e. indoors or outdoors) these can either be full sized or virtual. If budget allows, hire a major or minor league player or coach to help “train” and motivate the staff. This is also a great opprotunity to present company awards – not only for winners of the games played at the event but company wide prizes such as “MVP” and “Rookie of the Year”. If considering an outdoor event, always plan a weather backup or rain date.
- Baseball themed break at the office – this is a simple and cost effective way to boost morale, especially on a nice day when everyone might rather be at the ball park than sitting at their desk. A hired costumed vendor circling the office with hot dogs, ice cream sandwiches and bags of peanuts can bring instant smiles and a few minutes away from the normal routine. Who doesn’t love those Cracker Jax prizes?
- Team building event at Fenway Park(or other ball park) –a huge crowd pleaser! Historic, 100 year-old Fenway Park serves as an amazing backdrop for events, whether it be a group of seats for a game or a “behind the scenes” tour. But the ultimate team building activity is a scavenger hunt in and around the green monster, where teams compete to uncover the lore and legend of the last century.
- Baseball themed incentive – Contests are proven to motivate employees and a central theme helps tie the campaign together. A baseball theme is popular and works easily with team or company wide goals (i.e. “Hit it out of the Park!”) Top prizes can include a VIP weekend getaway to a big game, autographed merchandise or tickets to a local game. Make sure the contest goals are measurable and attainable (you can even name them singles, doubles, home runs) and promote the incentive frequently and effectively (for example, give them a “playbook” of the rules). Always include a few gifts for the non-baseball lovers such as gift cards or cash.
- Management by baseball – there are many management consultants who claim running an organization is a lot like managing a baseball team. In fact, Jeff Angus dedicated a book to the topic and provides guidance to managers on how to choose a starting lineup (i.e. staffing), time management and training techniques. Consider offering a seminar by Jack or providing copies of the book.
- Make it a family affair – kids love baseball, too. Company outings provide an opportunity for people to get to know each other outside of work. If the company’s demographics consist of families, consider opening the event up to kids. It’s a way of expressing appreciation for the employees and their families’ time and commitment to work. Make sure there are plenty of activities for everyone (face painting, baseball themed carnival games) and the timing is after school or a weekend date. For added pizzazz hire a costumed mascot and let parents and kids pose create their own baseball cards with their photo. Of course food and prizes should be baseball themed. Remember our cupcake wars?
- Create a baseball (or softball) league at work – what better way to build team spirit. Make sure to spread the word that even if people don’t play, spectators to cheer on the team are just as important!
- Sponsor a local little league team or help restore a community ball park – a nice way of giving back and it feels good, too!