Start the Year in the Right Rhythm

We don’t often think about it, but life is based on natural, recurring rhythms: Days, years and even our own lives have predictable cycles that allow us to navigate through time. Our morning activities differ from our evening ones; we plan holidays around the seasons; and we focus our energy according to the stages of our careers. Even our bodies have a rhythm and the health of our bodies is often measured by how good the rhythm of our heart beat is. With the start of the new financial year we are reminded that organizations also need rhythm. Some of it will come from natural occurrences. However, leaders need to provide the rest of the music to give investors, employees, and customers a sense of consistency. From my experience, there are at least three types of rhythm that leaders need to create: Planning and Budgeting: First, leaders need to make sure that an effective planning and budgeting cycle is in place at an organization level. This is the activity that forces people to set strategies and goals and translate them into plans. Gauging the right timing for this cycle and how much detail it requires is almost always a challenge, and many companies stumble trying to get it right (or perfect). Reporting and Pivoting: People at all levels value rhythms for assessing progress and making improvements to achieve their goals. But this rhythm often breaks down due to lack of discipline, transparency, or the avoidance of tough discussions when things go off track. In fact, a common reason that companies struggle with execution is that the “reporting” includes too much improvisation, which means that problems are addressed too late or not at all. Human Resource Staffing and Development: At an organization-wide level, this means identifying needed skills and resources, closing gaps between current and future needs, moving people to appropriate roles, and rewarding or recognizing people for success. Within each work unit, this rhythm also includes periodic recalibration of unit structures, disciplined performance feedback, mentoring, coaching, and training. Again, while many organizations have yearly cycles for these activities, they are too-often viewed as one-time reporting exercises rather than part of an ongoing rhythm. And at the unit level, most managers do not create a predictable mini-rhythm for these activities, but instead squeeze them into the calendar as ad hoc tasks when a problem arises. Establishing the right rhythm for each of these streams is an important but extremely difficult part of the leadership job. Not only does each stream need to be done well, but the combination needs to form a symphony. This way, progress reviews and talent development coincide with planning cycles, both at a macro-level and within each work group. Otherwise managers feel constantly pulled from one set of rhythms to another, without an ability to connect the dots. It’s easy to wait for senior leaders to assemble these rhythms — but managers at every level also need to work at harmonization. One way to do so, particularly in the new financial year, is to create a “master calendar” for your team and yourself. Identify all of the key dates and requirements that are part of the corporate process. Then put in the recurring notes that you require for your own rhythm: one-on-ones with direct reports, diary meetings, project reviews, mentoring sessions, team off sites, etc. Once you begin to see how it all fits together, you can make adjustments, do forward planning, and alert your people far in advance about what is coming down the internal and external pipeline. Every organization has a certain kind of music; making it harmonious is up to you. For more information please contact KONA’s Sales Process Specialist Garret Norris on 1300 611 288 or