One of the first questions I used to ask leaders in our initial Coaching conversation was “How often do you meet with your direct reports?” More often than not, it was met with a few moments of puzzled silence, and then typically “Oh we talk every day!” The HARDEST thing about coaching is not letting your judgment enter into the conversation. But to be honest, I normally sigh, and, as I’m a terrible poker player, that usually takes the conversation into a different place. I have at least learned to back up and ask a better question: “What is your approach to management?”… which helps me deduce the same thing… do they use the Rhythm method?
I’ts a cheap reference, but you smiled didn’t you? Or I hope you did, because honestly, if you don’t approach your management with Rhythm, your outcomes will be… My father had a lot of impact on me and nothing more than this phrase: “Reduced to Practice” – for when you had completed something well enough for others to duplicate it: Not everything needs engineering discipline, but I have found that establishing a regular Rhythm for meetings is one of the lowest cost, highest return activities any leader can do. And science backs it up.
Chess Records was the Mecca for southern artists who had migrated to Chicago. It was so successful that the Chess brothers started a subsidiary … wait for it … Checker Records. Bo Diddley’s first recording was so different in it’s sound that it immediately went to number one on the R&B charts. And though difficult to characterize at the time, many stories actually put Bo as the “first rock and roll” act that was signed by the Chess brothers. With that success, he was spotted by Ed Sullivan and asked to play on his show in November of 1955.
Backstage, Bo was warming up singing Sixteen Tons, and the stagehands thought he should play that in his set. He readily said yes. And on the cue cards, it listed “Bo Diddley” so, reading that as a title and not his name, he went ahead and played that song also — doubling his time on stage, and making Ed furious. But, no one doubted what they had seen… Rock and roll… in 1955. BEFORE Holly, the Beatles, etc.
Here is the ACTUAL show from 1955, and then another one I found from 1965, which is even more fun. Watch as he descends the risers, and watch for Norma Jean Wofford on the right, — as someone in the comments noted, — dancing, singing, in heels, and ripping up her guitar part 😉 The same commenter said, “…this video is the definition of gangster/badass to this day.” Finding this stuff is why I like the management Rhythm of doing it daily — forcing me to really find something I don’t know.
The state of art in Performance Management has moved away from the yearly Performance Review, but not like MOST people think.. Leading-edge adopters like Accenture, the FAA, and Johns Hopkins realized that what was needed was MORE conversations, not fewer. The recommended cadence is at LEAST every 2 weeks, with a focus on what happened in the past couple of weeks and what’s projected for the next few weeks. Thirty minutes is enough, and I will talk later in the week about Status Reporting which makes those conversations better, deeper, and more rewarding for everyone.
People need regular, Rhythmic, predictable, and most of all PREPARED feedback on how they are doing, and the MOST important thing to focus on is what is going WELL. Again, science helps us if you want to have outstanding results: find SIX things they are doing well with for each one they are not. BARE minimum, make it a 3-1 ratio. But, if you‘re like most, it is more like 1-3, and this happens when you haven’t actually thought about what you are doing.
The B side to “Bo Diddley” is a song that did fairly well for him also, but has been re-recorded by many artists you know — The Yardbirds with both Clapton and Beck, and The Rolling Stones just to name a few. It also triggered a response from Muddy Waters that was a monster hit for him — Mannish Boy which also was recorded by many white artists, a pattern you will see all week.
For today, what is your Rhythm of management, and are you doing your best to really take responsibility for helping you and your team to step up? Written by Bo … and more than just a throw-away phrase for leaders who realize they can’t just “be”… I’m A Man.