Mastering Strategic Moves in the Workplace

by Dec 13, 2023

Sports have a unique ability to inspire, unite, and elevate individuals and communities. I am one of them. It’s not just something fun to watch; it inspires me beyond the competition. It’s not only a game; it’s like a language that touches my heart. Sports are where dreams come alive, like a canvas waiting for stories, and a stage where heroes rise. 

It all started when I was five. I watched my neighbors play something on a black and white puzzled board with some pieces that I didn’t recognize, well, except for one, which looked like a horse. My young mind couldn’t understand what was happening. I started to ask questions. I found out that the horse-like thing is technically called a “knight”… and the game was called Chess.

Chess, with its black-and-white board and pieces, became more than just a game. It became my favorite thing. I was addicted to it to the point that my whole world was revolving around it. From those early days of watching, I started playing too. I started winning too.

It wasn’t just something I did for fun; it became a big part of who I am. But then life hit me in the face and even though I had lots of wins and successes in chess, I stopped playing. Though I had never played Chess in a very long time, the lessons that I learned from this beautiful game lived with me forever.

Chess, with its complex strategies and tactical movements, extends beyond the board, offering valuable lessons that can be applied to various aspects of life, including the workplace.


Here are some key takeaways from the game of chess that can enhance our professional endeavors:


1. Strategic Planning:

Just like in chess, where you plan your moves ahead, at work, it’s like planning your tasks for the week. For example, setting priorities and making a to-do list can help you stay organized and focused on what’s important.


2. Decision-Making:

In chess, every move counts, and you have to decide the best one. Research indicates that people make about 35,000 decisions each day, from temporal  to critical ones. This number may sound ridiculous, but in fact, we make 226.7 decisions each day on just food alone according to researchers at Cornell University.

At work, deciding on important matters, like choosing the best approach for a project, is crucial for success.


3. Adaptability:

Sometimes in chess, you need to change your strategy based on what your opponent does. Similarly, at work, being adaptable means adjusting your plans when unexpected things happen. For instance, if a project takes an unexpected turn, being flexible allows you to find new solutions.


4. Team Collaboration:

Even though chess is usually played alone, players often learn from each other and share strategies. Similarly, teamwork involves brainstorming ideas with colleagues, sharing expertise, and collaborating for better outcomes. Research shows that about 75% of employees rate teamwork and collaboration as being very important.


5. Resilience:

In chess, you might lose a piece, but the game isn’t over. Similarly, at work, facing setbacks and learning from failures is part of the journey. So, iif a project doesn’t go as planned, learn from your experience and improve for the next time. It will teach you a very important lesson of bouncing back from setbacks! 


As we think about what chess teaches us, we see how these lessons can help us at work. Just like chess players plan and make smart moves, we can plan our work tasks and make good decisions to always foster an engaged workforce and a respectful workplace culture. And…. aside from cultivating a positive work environment, it also has serious ROI.  Just check out this infographic.

And as a bonus we’re offering Catherine’s LinkedIn Learning course, Driving Workplace Happiness for free, so share the link to anyone who can benefit from it! 

Bringing these lessons to work isn’t just about making yourself better but also helping your team and company succeed. 

Wishing you a week of strategic moves, continuous improvement, and victories on the chessboard of life! Checkmate the challenges and always aim to win! Keep an eye to our weekly newsletters for free resources in building positive workplace cultures. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out and our team is more than happy to help!

Civility is the platform for organizational success—it is absolutely necessary for an organization to reach its goals. Download our Ebook on Seeking Civility to learn more on how to create a workplace free of bullying and abusive conduct.


About Catherine Mattice

Catherine Mattice, MA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is President of consulting and training firm, Civility Partners, and has been successfully providing programs in workplace bullying and building positive workplaces since 2007. Her clients include Fortune 500’s, the military, several universities and hospitals, government agencies, small businesses and nonprofits. She has published in a variety of trade magazines and has appeared several times on NPR, FOX, NBC, and ABC as an expert, as well as in USA Today, Inc Magazine, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, and more. Catherine is Past-President of the Association for Talent Development (ATD), San Diego Chapter and teaches at National University. In his book foreword, Ken Blanchard called her book, BACK OFF! Your Kick-Ass Guide to Ending Bullying at Work, “the most comprehensive and valuable handbook on the topic.” She recently released a second book entitled, SEEKING CIVILITY: How Leaders, Managers and HR Can Create a Workplace Free of Bullying.

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