From the Blog

Optimising your operating cadence for employee development success

Establishing an operating cadence for development and coaching is critical to unlocking performance growth and getting the most out of your people development investment. In this blog, YakTrak COO and co-founder Brad Thomas explains why it’s a must for every business.

We’ll also unpack how you can create and execute a cadence that delivers real shifts in capability and employee engagement.

Unpacking the value of an operating cadence with Brad Thomas

An effective operating rhythm (or cadence) is designed to achieve sustainable and consistent business performance. It helps with planning, communications and aligning teams and team performance. When it’s used for employee development it makes a real impact. Having worked in the behavioural change field for 25 years, Brad Thomas is clear on the key drivers that make a real impact on people development plans. Let’s find out what Brad’s got to say about cadence for development.


Brad, is an operating cadence essential for people development?

Brad: If you’ve read any of our previous blogs, you’d know that at YakTrak we believe that on-the-job coaching is the most important development activity a leader can do. The 70:20:10 model outlines that 70% of people development is done on the job, and that’s a huge percentage to just ignore and leave to the remaining 30%, which is formal training and learning from others, such as mentoring. It means that on-the-job development and employee coaching are critical. The key to doing these things well is consistency. And this is where cadence comes in.

A coaching operating rhythm or cadence will:

  • help drive predictable, consistent results
  • provide a framework for performance management and development
  • allow leaders to provide feedback and coaching to employees on a regular basis.

Through a coaching cadence, leaders and employees set aside time for regular observation and coaching sessions, which helps to keep everyone focused on development goals in a consistent way that delivers genuine change. We’ve seen that it helps employees be clear about where they need to focus while feeling that their manager is supporting them. When employees know when coaching catch-ups are scheduled, they can prepare for the sessions rather than their development happening in an ad hoc manner.

Aside from driving performance, it has other great benefits helping to keep employees motivated and valued, which can improve organisational culture and increase retention.

Coaching ensures that development is built into a company culture, fosters a growth mindset and is the foundation of a healthy, high-performing team.


What should leaders consider when establishing a coaching cadence?

Brad: The first step is to consider the current capability levels of the team. Once you have done that, you need to think about how much time they will need from you as the leader to build capability and the key activities you need to undertake. Activities such as regular meetings, observation and coaching reviews all need to be considered.

Next, you need to think about how much time you have to give to a people development cadence. Often a cadence is created and then no one has time to execute it. Think about the things that are taking up your time that are not urgent or important and could be considered ‘busy’ work and stop doing them. Replace these things with people development activities.

Then, think about communication – how are you going to communicate company goals, plans and priorities? This needs to flow through to team and individual team-member levels. Maintaining effective communication helps to create a collaborative, transparent environment focused on growth. So where in your cadence will you allow time for communication?

Finally, consistency is the key to a good team operating cadence. Imagine trying to follow a rhythm that keeps changing. A reliable cadence means people know what to expect in leadership and team meetings and in their one-on-ones. So once you make a commitment, stick to it.


What are some of the pitfalls that leaders fall into when rolling out cadence for development? 

Brad: Most leaders are busy. Adding a cadence to their daily activity for people development does not automatically mean you have time to coach. The most common mistake is not critically analysing their current schedule and removing, delegating or streamlining what they are currently doing.

Another error we have seen occur is where a cadence is created but the capability of the leaders to coach is a bit hit-and-miss. This is where coaching can do more harm than good. Investing in a program that teaches leaders how to coach and develop staff effectively is super important. If coaching is considered a waste of time by coachees, the coaches are doing something wrong.

Another pitfall I commonly see is not having a system to track the quality and the quantity of people development activity. That’s really why YakTrak was born. Now, of course, you don’t have to use YakTrak, but you must track cadence somehow and report on it. Leaders need to be held accountable for spending time with their people.

Ready to make employee coaching a daily habit?

Get in touch and we'll show you around YakTrak

Establishing an effective employee development cadence

Developing an effective operating rhythm framework involves establishing a regular meeting cadence, along with ensuring consistency in terms of format, content and follow-up. Making sure that the cadence your business establishes reflects people’s preferences and values will help to scale up your people development activities too.

Set goals

Establish your priorities first. Setting clear goals and objectives before you establish a cadence will help you to decide what your development activities should achieve – and this, in turn, will help you to understand what a healthy operating cadence will look like. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are our top-level objectives?
  • How can we ensure buy-in?
  • How can we effectively communicate these goals?

List your activities

List all the coaching and development activities that need to be undertaken on a daily, weekly and monthly cadence for each role and how long those activities should take.

Establish a schedule

Determining how often you need to meet with your entire team and individual employees will depend on your organisation and your team, but regular micro-coaching check-ins provide great results. Consistency is key, so even if it’s weekly or bi-weekly make sure that you stick to your schedule.

Your cadence should be able to adjust according to the team dynamics. It’s not just about the number of meetings. It’s also about their content. Incorporating in-person off-sites, understanding the need for weekly goals, and accounting for remote team dynamics and different phases in your business are integral.

Choose your tools

Choose the right format and tools that you can scale up to record observations, goals, notes and outcomes. The tools you use should ensure that everyone is on the same page! Remember, your cadence should be a tool to drive your business forward, not hold it back.

Be flexible

If the meeting cadence isn’t quite right for your people, adjust it!

Give feedback

Find ways to provide regular feedback inside and outside of your coaching conversations.

Keep track

Remember to monitor and track progress towards goals.

Creating and maintaining a successful cadence requires effort and commitment. Teams should regularly review and refine their processes to ensure they remain relevant and effective.

Ready to make employee coaching a daily habit?

Get in touch and we'll show you around YakTrak

Key components of a successful employee development cadence

At its core, a successful cadence is built on three pillars: regular check-ins to track progress, targeted training and coaching, and feedback and recognition.

Regular check-ins and progress tracking

Regular check-ins are the foundations of your operating cadence. They ensure that everyone is moving in the right direction and at the right pace. Clear goals and objectives ensure that employees’ work continues in a clear and focused direction. Think about how you can use your regular entire team meeting to anchor the communication cadence too.

Targeted training and coaching 

Targeted training can help to ensure technical skills are kept up to date and employee coaching can help to embed new behaviours and skills on the job.

For training and coaching to be effective, they must cater to diverse working environments and learning preferences.

Feedback and recognition

Positive feedback and public recognition can enhance employee morale and productivity, while constructive feedback helps guide professional advancement and close capability gaps.

Acknowledging employee achievements in real-time, rather than only during annual reviews, reinforces successes and contributes to a strong workforce culture. Regular recognition of efforts and accomplishments helps people to feel valued and drives increased employee engagement and productivity.

Two people seated at a table. One person has a clipboard. Its a professional setting indicating an employee coaching session as part of an employee development coaching cadence.
Establishing a planning cycle helps to get the most out of your team employee development activities

Overcoming challenges

Even though setting up an effective employee development cadence comes with a multitude of benefits, it’s not without challenges. Three common hurdles include resistance to change, ensuring consistency, and managing time and resources.

Let’s explore these challenges and how to overcome them.

Overcoming resistance

Remember, resistance to change is normal. Clear communication, involving the team in decision-making, and adjusting when necessary can help to address resistance.

Be open with your team about the need for cadence, and workshop what it can help to address. For example:

  • Removing double-ups – Do you have too many redundant processes? What can you remove and replace?
  • Improving meetings – Do you have too many poorly run meetings? Is your team complaining about too many weekly meetings? Use this opportunity to work out what can be adjusted.

Think about your company culture. Is there room to introduce Agile principles, such as establishing a rhythm for a small team and promoting self-management, to foster autonomy while remaining aligned with organisational structures? Ask your whole team what’s integral to the team’s success.

Ensuring consistency

Maintaining consistency of information and recurring meetings can be a challenge, especially in a dynamic business environment.

Remember, a lack of consistency can undermine the effectiveness of the entire operating cadence. So, consistency is not just a nice-to-have, but a must-have in any successful operating cadence. Ways to maintain consistency include:

  • committing to a regular cadence
  • maintaining explicit focus in communications and meetings on the priorities that have been identified.

Managing time and resources

The final challenge is the management of time and resources. To effectively plan and prioritise learning and development initiatives, it is essential to:

  • carve out time in advance
  • implement adaptable meeting cadences for multinational or remote teams
  • use tools to manage goals and coaching conversations and to monitor progress
  • empower individual team members to take control over their learning and development (easy-to-use software that embeds daily learning is a great way of doing this).


3 sales reps in a team meeting giving a high five
Building effective operating cadences for employee development means putting in a bit of work, but will mean results for your business

How YakTrak can help

We understand the importance of people development and coaching. That’s why we built YakTrak.

Our software:

  • helps establish a consistent cadence for your people development activities – daily, weekly or fortnightly
  • enables leaders to improve their coaching skills by setting up a cadence and framework for coaching conversations
  • empowers team members to take ownership of their development
  • helps to embed culture change and coaching across a workforce
  • keeps everyone accountable
  • provides visibility to see where you can celebrate successes and find areas for improvement
  • improves documentation management and provides a central location for documenting employee behaviour and coaching activity.

Get in touch with us today.

Ready to make employee coaching a daily habit?

Get in touch and we'll show you around YakTrak


What are some tips for setting goals?

It’s important to get alignment between the goals that will achieve strategic business goals and key initiatives along with employee goals related to personal growth and career aspirations.

Goals should also be aligned across different teams and link with larger business goals (like profit, company growth and so on). Consider the sales team and the product teams. They may have different immediate tasks, but aligning their goals with the company’s objectives ensures everyone is working towards the same result. Goals should be set on the behaviours that drive the desired outcomes, not the outcomes themselves.

This alignment can fuel company growth.

Why do we need to consider personal growth?

While chasing organisational growth, employees’ personal growth may be neglected. However, there’s a link between the success of an organisation and that of its employees.  When employees are supported to develop in line with their own career goals, they bring fresh ideas and perspectives to their current role.

Supporting employees to achieve their own goals helps improve employee satisfaction and create a highly engaged company culture.

How can team leaders find time to coach?

In the early stages of developing a coaching cadence, it can be difficult to find the time to coach.

The key here is to block out time consistently: set up a recurring meeting with each team member and commit to it. These are coaching-specific meetings – they don’t need to be deep dives into professional development goals every time, but you should touch on lessons learned and what’s changed since last week (or whenever the previous meeting was held) and what the goal is for next week (or whenever the next meeting is scheduled).

Of course, to really make time, sometimes you need to ‘stop’ doing some things that are adding no value. Consider analysing where you are currently spending your time: what can you eliminate from your day to create more time to coach?