Another interesting moment of clarity descended upon me during a recent morning slog – rather “jog” through a Houston summer morning. I try to vary my listening habits during my workouts so that I don’t completely burn out on any one thing. On this particular morning, I considered the impact of the sounds from my headphones on the quality of my training. And a few miles later, a blog post on management styles, internal communications, and organizational performance was born.
My listening habits mainly break into two categories: podcasts and hard rock/hip hop. I thought these choices were interchangeable, but soon I realized there were discernible differences in my “stats” based on the selection. To listen and appreciate a podcast, I have to pay attention and think about the topic. Whether subconscious or not, my running pace slows to allow my brain to focus. Conversely, listening to hard rock/hip hop is energizing and my brain can tune out. This allows my body to take over, and my pace quickens.
Once I came to this understanding, I began to use it to my advantage. If I wanted to work on my endurance by running longer distances, I turned to the podcasts. The content would keep my mind occupied during the extended time, and my pace would be slower yet more consistent. If I needed to work on speed over short distances, I cranked up the tunes. The energy and beats from the music gave me something to keep up with, but I know there is a limit to how far I can go like that. Bottom line: the right listening choices help to manage my cadence so I achieve my training goals more efficiently.
This is where the blog post inspiration entered the picture. As managers and leaders, do we recognize the importance of organizational cadence and its impact on efficiently achieving our goals? Do we appreciate the value of effective internal communications on relaying that cadence? When you look at your goals, you should determine whether an NPR podcast or a track from Metallica will provide the right soundtrack.
- The Podcast Cadence: your teams are involved in work or projects that are detail-oriented and have long timelines. Collaboration is an important piece, hearing and considering varied ideas. As a leader, you want to encourage team members to be thorough and thoughtful, to do the necessary background work. So you keep an even keel and pace in assignments, making sure they stay focused and on-task without too much “clock-watching” or distractions.
- The Hard Rock Cadence: your teams have quick turnarounds, short deadlines and/or a wide variety of tasks on-hand. Some assignments may be somewhat automated, or at least on a reliable schedule. Deep dives are not necessary, but rather quick, efficient, quality work is the goal. For this leader, providing clear communication of schedules, timelines, deadlines, and assignments is important. Regular check-ins to make sure everyone is aware of the “clock” can be useful, but you must step back and let them work without impedance. A good leader in this instance must also recognize his teams’ stamina and know when to allow for a “breather.”
- Mismatched Cadence: utilizing one management style but expecting the opposite result is not the end of the world, but neither is it a recipe for long-term success. If your goals need a Podcast Cadence, you cannot demand short timelines or hand out too many tasks. Similarly, if you are leading with a Hard Rock Cadence, you need to be accessible so that you are not the roadblock or bottleneck to meeting deadlines. On the occasion where a temporary task requires a change in cadence, communicate that with your team. Abruptly changing performance expectations without explanation or notice can result in confusion or distrust in leadership.
- Communicating Cadence: quality internal communications about methodologies, processes, and expectations are as necessary as a good audio player and headphones. Whether it’s through well-written internal memos, efficient meetings, clearly documented process instructions, utilizing internal communications best practices will help everyone understand the rhythm and pace needed to achieve goals.
Over the years, I’ve been able to curate specific playlists that align with my training goals as I try to maintain my most effective and efficient physique. Developing appropriate management and leadership skills will help achieve your ideal organizational cadence to efficiently achieve your goals and stretch even further.