Posted on: August 20th, 2012 by Jen Mueller

When it comes to relating sports topics and conversations to “real life” workdays sometimes its hard to see the connection. It’s easy to dismiss the challenges of athletes and assume those same challenges don’t apply to us.

But this week’s conversation starters help to demonstrate everyone struggles with issues of performance, teamwork, ethics and communication at work. This week every conversation starter relates to baseball, not just because they’re all hot topics in the world of sports, but also because it’s 162-game season most closely mimics a traditional workweek.

If you’re not familiar with a baseball schedule, games are played nearly every day. Teams average 3 off days a month, and although the game itself usually lasts around 3 hours, players can spend up to 10 hours a day at the ballpark.

So this week’s batch of conversation starters all relate to big topics in the world of baseball but they also give you a launching point to start a bigger discussion in your office.

Here we go!

Workplace Conversation Starters, Workplace Communication

Felix Hernandez after his perfect game

Felix Hernandez’ Perfect Game – I not only had the pleasure of witnessing this in person, but being the first person to interview Felix after he came off the mound. Felix Hernandez, a starter for the Seattle Mariners, pitched the 23rd perfect game in baseball history last week. One of the most pivotal plays happened during the very first at bat of the game. Right fielder Eric Thames made a difficult catch that could have easily become a hit and ruined the chance of a perfect game.

  • Thames was just doing his job to the best of his ability and didn’t realize how critical that play would become until late in the game. What kind of things have you done at work that didn’t seem important at the time, but turned out to be critical?
  • Felix was outstanding, but he still needed his teammates around him to play well during the game, which speaks to the importance of teamwork. What projects are you working on that require a measure of teamwork?

Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera Suspended – But that’s only part of the story. Cabrera was suspended 50 games for failing a drug test. Then it appears to tried to cover it up by launching a fake websiteso that it would look like he bought a legal supplement that led to his failed test. Cabrera’s stats this year were through the roof and he was on pace to win a batting title. After the failed test we can see why those numbers look so good.

  • This story speaks a great deal to ethics and morals, how far would you go to win?
  • How do you address a breach of ethics at work?

Houston Astros fire Brad Mills – He becomes the first manager fired in 2012 and it’s not hard to see why. The Astros are on pace to lose the most games ever in franchise history. This is a team that’s trying to rebuild and traded most of their talented veterans for young prospects.

  • This brings up a topic that gets discussed quite often in sports and just as frequently in workplace conversations: when something goes wrong, who’s to blame?
  • Many say the move is “by design” to ultimately help the Astros rebuild their team. Have you ever had to make a drastic decision to change the direction of your team or a project?

Bobby Valentine is on the hot seat in Boston – The drama around the Red Sox continues to build after it was revealed last week that several players have complained to management about Bobby Valentine’s managerial style with the team. Red Sox have not met expectations this year but they have a chance to make a playoff run if they can turn thing around quickly.

  • Bobby is known for speaking his mind and acting on emotion. His communication style has definitely impacted his players. Do you see similarities between the Red Sox and people you work with?
  • What does this story say about the importance of communication in the workplace and the way it impacts performance?

The Nationals shutting down Strasburg – The Washington Nationals have announced that they will shut down ace Stephen Strasburg before the end of the season to protect his arm. Strasburg underwent Tommy John surgery last year and they want to make sure he stays healthy, but here’s the catch. The Nationals are heading to the playoffs, which will be a first for fans in DC since 1933. Strasburg, the team’s best pitcher, won’t be able to pitch.

  • How would you handle a situation in which you had worked hard to reach a goal but weren’t able to complete that goal?
  • The Nationals believe they’re protecting their investment and pacing their ace pitcher. How does this relate to work-life balance and taking a break to prevent burnout?