The Necessity of a Good Cadence

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, cadence is defined as “the beat, time, or measure of rhythmical motion or action.”

In the business context, cadence is used to describe regularly scheduled activities, specifically regularly scheduled meetings, follow-ups, visits or other actions.

As leaders, we need to set up a cadence of activities with our team to ensure that we are following up, checking in on them, assisting them, and holding them accountable.

Cadence in business usually consists of tasks such as:

  1. Weekly follow up and accountability meetings with direct reports or on projects
  2. Monthly review sessions for operating units or business units
  3. Regularly planned and schedule site and customer visits

Creating, measuring and sticking to these cadences is essential.  Whether we like it or not, the reality is that, without a cadence, the follow up, the review sessions, the visits just do not happen.  Urgent tasks and other business just get in the way, and we do not get the cadenced activities and the follow up done.

To ensure that we establish the proper cadence we need to have the regularly scheduled meetings put on our calendars and/or we need to track our activities diligently.

In a recent role, I worked to establish a cadence of site visits every 3 months.  I diligently tracked these visits.  But, I did not review my tracking regularly.  One time, I was invited to visit our Gardena, CA location, 12 miles from our office in Long Beach, CA.  My response was that I had just been to Gardena, and it was better to visit another location.  I then checked my tracking sheet.  Yes, I had just visited Gardena… 10 months before! 

Cadence is important when managing people that we do not see on a regular basis in the office.  Perhaps, we have direct reports that are based in a different location or we have direct reports that work from home.  We need to check in on them at a regular cadence to keep them up to speed and to ensure that they do not feel forgotten.

Cadence is equally important when dealing with people we may see and interact with on a regular, even daily basis.  Without cadence meetings, we are always interacting with these individuals on urgent, tactical issues.  As such, we are really managing the issues, and not the person.

For me, I have found it most beneficial to have a scheduled weekly 30 minute meeting with direct reports and weekly project or operations reviews.  To help in scheduling other meetings and travel, I do these reviews all on one day (Monday).  But, however we choose to schedule our cadence meetings is much less important than ensuring that the cadence meetings are regularly held.

These cadenced meetings have three additional benefits besides ensuring that rigorous follow up and accountability are taking place.

  1. It allows us as managers to create weekly deadlines for individuals and on projects that create an urgency to get important, but not urgent, tasks done in a timely manner. This is vital at the beginning of a project when nothing seems to be urgent and time is inevitably and irretrievably lost.
  2. The cadence meetings allow for general in-depth discussions, including thinking through strategic issues, employee development, mentoring direct reports…
  3. A weekly cadence meeting saves on phone calls, E-Mails, texts and all the time and disruption that occur as we communicate on non-urgent matters, that can more simply be addressed all at once in a weekly cadence meeting.

In short, as leaders, we all need to manage with a good cadence.

About David Shedd

David has been a President - CEO - COO of an up to $350M group of manufacturing, distribution, specialty retail and services companies, having led 22 different businesses from turnarounds to start-ups to fast growth companies.
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