Nothing was going right at the plate for Dave Concepcion, the shortstop for the Cincinnati Reds.
About a month into the 1976 season, he was suffering a hitting slump, a plague of physical and mental anguish that had frittered away his batting average to around .150. The Reds were in Chicago, where the Cubs had a large industrial gas-operated clothes dryer in the stadium. Feeling goofy, Concepcion hopped in the dryer and called to his teammates. "Hey! Maybe this will help me get hot."
Going along with the gag, Pat Zachry, the pitcher, hit the side of the switch, pretending to turn on the machine. With a puff of smoke, sparks flew, the machine whirred and began to rotate with Concepcion inside.
''I'll never forget it,'' said Zachry. ''Davey started spinning, and I froze with my eyes bugging out. Oh, it was terrible. Then I banged the side of the switch again. And the machine stopped.
''Davey went out that day and got four for five," said Zachry. "And for weeks it was almost impossible to get him out. I tell him now that I made him the player he is today.''
Fast-Track Productivity in Unconventional Ways
No one in baseball or business is certain how slumps happen, but it's helpful to know how to react when they do. Especially if you see trends that repeat each year.
Here are four creative options to fast track productivity if your momentum is slow this summer:
1. Engage in pro bono opportunities that enhance your products, services, and relationships.
In slowdown seasons, invest company time in something that will pay off.
Who are your target customers or VIP account holders? Approach these contributors and offer to host a free training event or professional engagement that will put your products and people in the limelight. Another alternative is to select core clients and offer to enhance your services for them for no cost.
2. Do non-profit work for your best customer's charity of choice.
Slow periods are an ideal time to invest people equity in causes that matter.
During your down times, partner with agencies that your clients value and offer volunteer hours, free professional services, or mentoring that can make these organizations stronger.
3. Stretch your team's skills.
When activity wanes, morale often follows.
Invigorate employees by offering on-going education opportunities, professional mentoring within your team, or innovation labs that mobilize groups to tackle some of your most ambitious goals.
Take time to refresh decor, business cards, or your website, and involve your team in designing these pieces. Here you'll strengthen your products, catalyze creative thinking, or upgrade inefficient systems.
4. Network or collaborate with other professionals.
Finally, as your business weathers change, remember that other entrepreneurs may be in the same boat.
Find like-minded friends and cook up a multi-site promotion to bring people back. Network and learn from people in your community or industry while you have extra time. Or trade services and train one another in ways that are mutually beneficial.
Want to make the most of each day? By reaching out, stretching your team, or collaborating with others, you'll sharpen your skills and fortify your very best relationships.