Office Speak: Cadence

Why do words and phrases seep into the psyche of an organisation? It’s a question that has puzzled me for some time.

One word that has recently become the ‘in word’ is: Cadence.

I have no idea where it came from and I had assumed it was one of our internal words. Recently I’ve heard it used by other people in other organisations so decided that it’s use must have become more widespread, though not commonplace. One of my tests of whether something is office-speak or normal-speak is to ask Sue (my wife) if she knows what it means. When she looks blank I know that I’ve spent too long on conference calls.

Cadence has a several meanings, all of them point towards rhythm or repetition:

  1. Rhythmic flow of a sequence of sounds or words:the cadence of language.

  2. (in free verse) A rhythmic pattern that is nonmetrically structured.

  3. The beat, rate, or measure of any rhythmic movement: The chorus line danced in rapid cadence.

  4. The flow or rhythm of events, especially the pattern in which something is experienced:the frenetic cadence of modern life.

  5. A slight falling in pitch of the voice in speaking or reading, as at the end of a declarative sentence.

  6. The general modulation of the voice.

  7. Music. a sequence of notes or chords that indicates the momentary or complete end of a composition, section, phrase, etc.

None of these meanings relate directly to the way it’s used in my world. It’s normally used in a phrase similar to this:

We need a regular cadence for these meetings

Previously we would have used the word schedule, but over the last 12 to 18 months this appears to have been superseded by cadence. I have no idea why we decided to change, but change we have. Perhaps there’s an interesting social experiment that could be created to understand why groups of people change the words that they use.

There’s a couple of terms I’m still struggling with:

  • Cost wire-brushing
  • Bamboo connection point

Any ideas?

“Performance ratings data within companies is all bogus”

Most of my exercise is accompanied by podcasts. Whether I’m out for a walk or in the gym I’m likely to have someone speaking in my ears.

This morning something went “YES!!!” in my head when I heard these words:

“Performance ratings data inside companies is all bogus. It doesn’t actually measure what it says it’s measuring. Which, of course, is hugely problematic because we end up promoting people, and paying people, and training people, and deploying people based on those rating data and they’re invalid.  “

These are the words of Marcus Buckingham speaking on The Future of Work Podcast in which Jacob Morgan.

Sometimes you hear something and you know intuitively that there’s something significant about it, and that’s what happened to me this morning.

I’ve been subject to a number of rating systems in my time, some of them with forced bell curves others not; some of them have had a few points of assessment others with many areas of assessment. These assessments have always been done on an annual basis with the occasional mid-term review. None of them have made a significant difference to what I’ve done day-to-day and they’ve all felt like they were being done to tick-a-box for the corporation. I’ve always been diligent in ticking that box because the numbers in the assessment have made a difference to the money in my pocket but little else.

There have been a number of high profile organisations switching away from these systems:

Marcus’ own article also cited Deloitte – Reinventing Performance Management.

The Performance Review systems that I’ve experienced tend to link together development and reward. Often they are the only conversation about development and reward that an employee has with their manager. Everyone knows that this shouldn’t be the case, but it’s what happens.  I can’t remember a time when a Performance Review has resulted in a change of my Development Priorities. The times that I’ve developed the most have always been whilst working for an effective team leader, hence some other words from the podcast resonated:

“I strongly suggest the future of work should be built around the practices of what the best team leaders do anyway, and they do not do a one every six-week conversation…what they do do is check in with each person each week about the work, it starts with the work.” Marcus Buckingham

We may not be in a position to change the performance rating system, but we can all make a different to people’s development in the places where we lead.

I like Marcus’ principle of 5 minutes to tell me about 5 things for the next 5 days.

Because it’s Friday: Climbing DOWN a Crane with James Kingston

There are plenty of first-person videos of people climbing-up tall buildings but I’ve always thought that climbing-down is far more scary.

Today’s video is of James Kingston climbing down a high crane (James is the person who climbed the arch over Wembley).

Look away now if you have a problem with heights:

“I love using the latest technologies to…

I love using the latest technologies to make life more efficient, but I don’t want to advocate that technology replaces the need to get together and enjoy human connections with people.

Maynard Webb