Close this search box.
Close this search box.

For a Home Run, Put Your Rookies in the Game

Another year of spring training has begun—and every major league baseball team will have its share of rookies on the roster who need to gain some experience before they can add real value to the team.

Avid sports fans may recall the name Wally Pipp. If you don’t know Pipp, he’s the first baseman who, in 1925, asked New York Yankees manager Miller Huggins to bench him for a day due to a headache. He was replaced in the lineup—that game and for the next 2,129—by Lou Gehrig.

Pipp was an accomplished player, but Gehrig was a rookie who was ready, willing and able. He didn’t necessarily tear up the league in his first year, but that is to be expected of rookies.

What about your corporate roster? No doubt, there are rookies on your team. Are they getting their fair share of play so they build experience and can be of value to your team?

“Even the greenest employees can, and must, be given roles with responsibility and accountability.”

Like sports teams, every company has its rookies, too many of which are sitting on the bench. They’re playing supporting roles—taking notes, proofing memos, answering emails and phone calls, populating spreadsheets, or just plain observing. That’s fine in moderation. Yet even the greenest employees can, and must, be given roles with responsibility and accountability. They may strike out at first, but that is part of the game…and part of the process of becoming competent.

Here’s my mantra: Put the rookie in the game and see if he or she can play. Sure there’s risk. After all, how many corporate rookies are the next Gehrig? Few. We’ve all been burned by giving subordinates too much to handle too soon in their careers. However, ask yourself: Could more support and supervision have avoided these errors?

Here are low-risk ways of getting rookies up to speed so they can start creating value.

  1. Allow them to sit in on important meetings when viable. Let them see how top executives carry themselves and argue their points. Allow them to witness, in action, role models to emulate.
  1. Mentor. There are countless coachable moments in a day or month that get missed if there is no one to mentor a younger professional. Provide mentors and ensure they interact regularly with your rookies. Ensure the relationship is bilateral—experienced mentors know they can learn a lot from junior staffers. (Technology questions anyone?)
  1. Evaluate and support. Today’s more sophisticated personality and behavioral assessment methods (often used in hiring) can highlight areas in which professionals need improvement and attention. Identify gaps and weaknesses and address them early on.
  1. Think team. Strong collaborative teams can anticipate, avoid or cover individual weaknesses or errors.
  1. Cut your losses early. If the rookie isn’t going to make it, let him or her go. There is also a risk that older executives will get “pipped” (yes, it is a verb) and perhaps lose some of their responsibilities to a brash youngster. This rarely happens, of course, as most companies have more than enough responsibilities to go around. But if this is a decision you make, then maybe—as with Gehrig—it was meant to be.

Look around your office. Is there a rookie sitting on the bench but ready to play? If so, take a risk, and put the kid in the game.


  • Get the CEO Briefing

    Sign up today to get weekly access to the latest issues affecting CEOs in every industry
  • upcoming events


    Strategic Planning Workshop

    1:00 - 5:00 pm

    Over 70% of Executives Surveyed Agree: Many Strategic Planning Efforts Lack Systematic Approach Tips for Enhancing Your Strategic Planning Process

    Executives expressed frustration with their current strategic planning process. Issues include:

    1. Lack of systematic approach (70%)
    2. Laundry lists without prioritization (68%)
    3. Decisions based on personalities rather than facts and information (65%)


    Steve Rutan and Denise Harrison have put together an afternoon workshop that will provide the tools you need to address these concerns.  They have worked with hundreds of executives to develop a systematic approach that will enable your team to make better decisions during strategic planning.  Steve and Denise will walk you through exercises for prioritizing your lists and steps that will reset and reinvigorate your process.  This will be a hands-on workshop that will enable you to think about your business as you use the tools that are being presented.  If you are ready for a Strategic Planning tune-up, select this workshop in your registration form.  The additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    New York, NY: ​​​Chief Executive's Corporate Citizenship Awards 2017

    Women in Leadership Seminar and Peer Discussion

    2:00 - 5:00 pm

    Female leaders face the same issues all leaders do, but they often face additional challenges too. In this peer session, we will facilitate a discussion of best practices and how to overcome common barriers to help women leaders be more effective within and outside their organizations. 

    Limited space available.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $495 will be added to your total.

    Golf Outing

    10:30 - 5:00 pm
    General’s Retreat at Hermitage Golf Course
    Sponsored by UBS

    General’s Retreat, built in 1986 with architect Gary Roger Baird, has been voted the “Best Golf Course in Nashville” and is a “must play” when visiting the Nashville, Tennessee area. With the beautiful setting along the Cumberland River, golfers of all capabilities will thoroughly enjoy the golf, scenery and hospitality.

    The golf outing fee includes transportation to and from the hotel, greens/cart fees, use of practice facilities, and boxed lunch. The bus will leave the hotel at 10:30 am for a noon shotgun start and return to the hotel after the cocktail reception following the completion of the round.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $295 will be added to your total.