It’s just a fact of work life -- not everyone has the same amount of dollars to invest in opportunities or challenges. In today’s economic environment the numbers with less is accelerating and even those with resources appear to be hesitant to spend. This is true especially when it comes to the hiring, promoting, and rewarding of employees.

Billy Beane, GM of baseball’s Oakland A’s, found himself in just such a predicament. He was trying to build a winning, cost-effective team with one of the lowest staff budgets in the business, while he was also competing in an environment where the richest league members were spending huge sums on super stars.

Beane had to get an edge, a competitive edge. With technology making stat analysis easier and other teams still doing things in a more traditional way, he believed he had found it. The abundance of measurements in baseball is staggering. Choosing which were relevant became Billy’s passion. He is credited with starting what came to be called baseball’s “statistical revolution” using sabermetric principles to make hiring decisions. Today, with time giving us a better perspective, there are things about what he did that worked and were mimicked, and other views that proved either short-term, not duplicable, or downright wrong. The question was what to look at and when and how to respond.

To Beane’s surprise, some of the tried and true stats -- runs, times on base, and ERAs (Earn Run Averages) had less impact on winning than say the ability to move up a base, the timing when the hit was made, or how well a batter could get the pitcher to throw a maximum number of pitches. He began to look for undervalued players -- those considered too young and lacking in experience, not long ball hitters, and those who were away from the spotlight.

So what does this have to do with hiring, promoting, and rewarding employees? I would respond “plenty.”

Here are a few things to ponder:

Hiring experience gets you people with bad habits. Take newcomers under your wing and train them your way. Some of the dollars you saved on salary can buy the best training.

Hiring older workers gets you experience and stability since it is unlikely they are going to move cross-country for a love interest or because they want to ski 200 days a year. A 50-year-old worker could contribute for the next ten to fifteen years. What other age groups offers this guarantee?

“The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t.” The late Don Fisher, founder and former CEO of The Gap, said it a thousand times. What he meant is why look outside for new talent when you probably have what you need right in front of you. “Look for them, work with them, avoid the risk and expense,” he’d say.

Most people can make a sale, few can keep a customer. Selling the item the first time is costly and time consuming. Repeat business is easier and cheaper. Maybe it’s the customer service rep that deserves the bonus, not the super sales person.

A year is a long time to see rewards, especially when it’s three months into the next fiscal year. There is something said for the impact of monthly and quarterly recognition over EOY payments.

Big names demand too big dollars. Are you paying for the brains or the institution’s name on the diploma? When did the smaller, less famous schools teach less than the “top ten list” everyone seems to want to attend? Are you limiting the pool of candidates because you are a school snob?

There’s a high value to showing up. It seems simple but we often don’t measure the value of a person who day in and day out delivers quality on time. They exist on every level and because they often don’t ask for the accolades, they go unnoticed. Are they your person who hits singles, rarely homers, but does so at the 295 level?

Most organizations hire specialists yet want them to work like generalists. What is your niche? Specialization? What are you an expert in? I’m guilty of asking those questions when I work with job searchers. Admit it; you don’t always need the perfect person at a specific task, what you need is someone who is quite good at a number of things. Diversity of skills is his or her value.

Billy Beane made a name for himself, created winners, and made and saved his franchise considerable money in the process by analyzing all aspects of his duties and then focusing on the most relevant and proven points. He learned it wasn’t always the big swing, or the swagger, but often the sweat and consistency that got the job done, day in and day out.

(c) Jane Cranston.

Author's Bio: 

Jane Cranston is an executive career coach. She works with success-driven executives, managers and leaders to reach their potential, better manage their boss and staff, as well as develop a career strategy to reach goals and aspirations. Jane is the author of Great Job in Tough Times a step-by-step job search system. Click here to subscribe to her twice monthly Competitive Edge Report.