High-falootin’ strategery sounds awesome. Unfortunately the best strategic plan in the world can come crashing down if you don’t have tactics in place to support it. And these tactics have to occur on a daily basis.
This is where, as a manager, you’re probably missing the boat. I know your intentions are good but your dysfunctional behaviors are the root of strategic destruction (how’s that for being provocative?).
I’ve mentioned before that strategy is about saying “no” and I’m unwavering on that point. The organization has to know where it’s going and pursue a balanced set of initiatives to get there. It has to be a mix of building your core business so it can spin off the cash required to invest in new ventures. It’s about hitting the sweet spot on balancing between growing the core or expanding beyond it. Let’s assume you’re already doing those things.
Here’s where you’re screwing up though: your daily behaviors and coaching to your associates are causing mission creep and dilution of your efforts. Don’t worry though, it’s pretty easy to diagnose and fix.
I read a great article about Home Depot the other day. Back in the Nardelli days, there was an internal slogan hung up in every store. It said “IMPROVE EVERYTHING WE TOUCH.” After Nardelli’s ouster, Frank Blake took over as CEO. In a pointed message to his management team he said “You know that sign that says IMPROVE EVERYTHING WE TOUCH? Please don’t.”
It was a strong message. Blake understood that the tactical daily impact of associates trying to improve every aspect of the business was dilutive to more strategic efforts. It led to managers running around trying to manage over 30 metrics on a daily basis. I don’t know about you but if I have more metrics than I have fingers, I’m in a bad place.
Look at the daily messages you send to your associates. Look at your metrics. Are every one of them aligned with your higher strategic focus? If not, whack it. Stop giving the coaching to be incredibly operationally efficient if your strategy is to deliver over-the-top customer service (those are in conflict). If your strategy is to be the most efficient operators in the world, pushing your employees to smile and greet every customer is at odds with that. I know these are extreme examples but you get the point.
Take a moment to diagnose the messages you send to your team. Are those messages and metrics consistent with your strategy? If not, you’re causing confusion and dilution of effort. Ultimately that leads to a strategy where you stand for everything and do nothing particularly well.