Cadence: Defining the Heartbeat of your OrganizationSep 17, 2021
Webster defines cadence as the flow or rhythm of events. The pattern in which something is experienced. In a business environment, a cadence refers to the frequency, format, and sequence in which a manager meets with his or her team.
In order for cadence to be an effective tool in your business you need to have two things going for you. First, the leadership team needs to be working from a common strategic framework. Basically, are we in sync on where we are trying to take the business? Are we on the same page with our vision on how to execute to reach our goals? Without this, cadence can be confusing and counterproductive to the rest of the team.
Second, the leadership needs to be comfortable in challenging each other productively and holding each other accountable. Even a well-designed cadence won’t work unless the individuals are equipped to have the inevitable tough discussions about the organization’s most important challenges and opportunities.
So let’s break cadence down into three ideas or tools. Objectives, Healthy fit conversations and Weekly sync.
Let’s start with objectives. A week or even a month may be too short to do something big or meaningful and people tend to run out of steam, lose focus or things change so we want to set 90 day objectives.
Once we have our objective and who owns the various pieces, we want to think about 30 and 60 day milestones. At 30 and 60 days you’ll want to pause from your normal agenda and everyone who owns one of these objectives needs to do a show and tell. And we're going to decide from day one what we're going to show and tell on day 30 and day 60. Something tangible to prove to the room that we are on track to the objective.
The second section in Cadence is about healthy fit, and having healthy fit conversations. We want to have a weekly conversation with the people that we work for, and the people that work for us. Now don't get overwhelmed. This can be a casual conversation. It can be 5-15 minutes. Our objective here is to build connection and trust. We want to get a pulse on how they're doing within their role and with their objectives. It really can come down to two questions:
- What are you working on?
- How can I support you?
This allows you both to leave, on the same page, with absolute clarity while also keeping the lines of communication open.
Next up is our weekly sync meetings with your entire team. For these, you’ll want to have an outline and an agenda and stick to your timeline. This is where we're going to look at our scoreboard, our objectives, and our actions. Our actions are the to-do’s we committed to at the end of our previous meeting—7-day action items. Then we’ll look at our opportunities and prioritize them. We want to think about impact versus urgency. Focus on the things that will make the most impact because the urgent stuff will always find a way to get done.
So once you identify and prioritize the list, we have this acronym DAT. Define, align and take action. When we apply DAT, we are here to solve. Some may be quick fixes, some may be solutions that take 6 months or more. At that point you’ll need to set some objectives along with 90 day deliverables and break them down into actions, and just apply the same methodology.
For all of this to work, it is absolutely critical to do the simple things the right way. Your leadership team’s cadence is fundamental and it is important for the health of your organization to get it right.
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