Roger Clemens is back with the New York Yankees. In true Bronx Bomber fashion, Clemens made the announcement to the crowd from the owner’s box during the seventh inning stretch. The crowd was appreciative, and judged by the grinning and laughing in the Yankee dugout the Yankee players seem pleased, too. After all, it is not every day you get the best living pitcher to play for your team, if only for part of the season. Clemens will make $18 million or so based on a prorated salary of $28 million. But what is not clear is what special conditions are included in that contract. For example, Clemens, who officially retired three years ago but has come back for partial seasons three times, may be entitled to travel home between starts, and may be excused from traveling with the team if he is not scheduled to pitch.
Teams are not democracies; players are told what to do and when to do it. Yet there is a code amongst the players. It is this; one for all, and all for one. Some players make more, much more than others; that’s the business of the game. But regardless of salary or status, every player is expected to show up at the park by a certain time, attend team meetings and all games, and travel together. That’s the bond that ties superstars to never will be’s and veterans to rookies. Clemens is the exception, but so too are other super-achievers.
One gets the feeling that Yankee players could care less; they want to win and Clemens gives them the best chance to do so. How many of the special conditions Clemens will indulge himself will be up to him. He is traditionally a team guy. But what does the Clemens exception say to us in the non-sports world? Do managers make exceptions made for their superstars? Of course! You can discern the exceptions in terms of salary, benefits, and perks. Managers also treat superstars differently, and sometimes with kid gloves.
Well, how does this play with non-superstars? It depends upon the manager. If a manager doesn’t want a revolt on his hands, he must make superstar status attainable to everyone. Here are some suggestions to do this.
Be clear in expectations. Make it known what you expect from people in terms of performance and behavior. Be explicit in terms what they can earn and how they can be promoted. Also make it clear that superstars must achieve, but also set the right example. That is, they are expected to participate in team activities.
Be open about exceptions. When superstars get special treatment, be open about it. Talk about why they are stars, that is, how they achieved their status. Where managers get into trouble is by trying to hide things, or worse by covering up for non-performing superstars. Being transparent is essential.
Be frank about what it takes to succeed. Make it clear that every employee has the opportunity to improve. Not everyone can outperform the normal. Discuss ways the employee can improve his or her performance and find ways to help that employee achieve.
Clemens must earn his mega-millions. He has to keep himself in condition and he has to pitch well. Based on past performances, he should do fine. But if he gets hit hard inning after inning because his fastball is not so fast (which it isn’t) and his breaking ball not so crafty, then there will be resentment of his special status. And that applies to superstars in the corporate world, too. If they are not scoring the big sales, crafting the mega-mergers, or goosing the bottom line, then their special conditions will get them a one way ticket “back to the minors.” In other words, if you are super, you’d better be a star everyday. Otherwise, you’ll be riding the bus.
Source:Insights into the Clemens situation are drawn from a discussion with John Kruk, Orel Hersheiser, and Steve Phillips on Baseball Tonight ESPN 5.07.07