The MEET Formula Long and the Short of It: Strategy and Tactics in the Modern Workplace

“All men can see these tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved.” — Sun Tzu, ancient Chinese military strategist.

The MEET Formula Long and the Short of It: Strategy and Tactics in the Modern Workplace by Laura Stack #Productivity

All leaders must possess a strong understanding of the difference between strategy and tactics. Simply put, strategy represents long-term thinking: the framework organizing what you do over years or decades to achieve your ultimate goals. Tactics involves individual steps towards those goals—the things you do today to prepare for tomorrow to achieve that strategy.

Leaders surely recognize these definitions, but employees don’t always understand the distinction, because most focus on the operational day-to-day activities required to keep the money flowing. As a result, it can be difficult to get them to invest time on longer-term strategic projects—important but non-urgent items that make the difference between wheel-spinning and getting somewhere. As the manager, you want your team members to do their regular work each day and carve out some time for strategic work or thinking.

To ensure your team keeps moving forward with an appropriate mix of strategy and tactics, implement the MEET Formula in your team:

1. Mastermind. In a separate meeting, make everyone aware of the big organizational goals and have the team plan precisely what they would need to do to move in that direction. Publish those objectives in shared space, where everyone can access them, and then publically keep track of your group’s progress in future emails and meetings. Communicate, communicate, and communicate again.

2. Engage. If your team members are excited about their work, you’ll have an easier time keeping them on track. So incentivize them in some way with time off, gift certificates, prizes, trips, or monetary bonuses if certain metrics are achieved. If they know rewards will come down the line, most will make extra daily efforts to ensure those numbers are hit.

3. Empower. Give your team members the power to make life easier not only for themselves, but for the entire team. Encourage them to take the initiative to improve group efficiency in ways that pave the way for long-term success. If there’s no big impact, let them make the changes, additions, and deletions in their time that will achieve the strategic goals. Stop doing things that no longer add value.

4. Tools. If you need to pound in a nail and all you have is a wrench, you can do it—but not efficiently. You need a hammer to do the job right. So make sure your people have the right tools to accomplish their tasks, so they can build a framework for future success. If someone needs a new computer, supply it. If someone requests training, invest in it. If someone wants a smartphone to do work in the evening, get it—even if this person “isn’t the right level.” Providing the right tools and resources improves your team’s engagement and empowerment quotients.

A Cautionary Tale

Once upon a time, there was an electronics giant named Circuit City that went belly-up. Many have tried to explain its demise since, but all their explanations boil down to “bad management.” Among other things, the giant let its tactics overwhelm its strategy. It worked so hard to make money right now that it forgot to ensure its long-term survival.

For example, upper management let experienced floor employees go en masse, replacing them with cheaper newbies. Suddenly, the stores teemed with untrained salespeople who didn’t know their own departments. They had no idea what they were doing or where the company was going. Long-time employees who survived the purge rapidly disengaged from the system, because they knew they could lose their jobs at any time just to save the company money. So why bother trying anymore?

Circuit City’s profits surged—briefly. But when customers realized how unhelpful the salespeople were and how little everyone cared, they went elsewhere in droves. Eventually the giant took a swan dive into Chapter 11.

The Moral

Don’t let your business become another Circuit City. Maintain a firm grasp on the strategy and the tactics and educate your employees on the distinction as well. The MEET Formula will ensure you’re communicating incessantly; creating incentives; allowing creative decision making; and providing the tools needed to do the job right. Your employees will keep an eye on the horizon, not just on the task in front of them.

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