The daily huddle has been common practice for many companies for ages. No matter your industry (manufacturing, healthcare, technology, etc.) or size, a daily sync-up can be a powerful tool to increase alignment, communication, and productivity for your teams. According to an article in Inc magazine, huddles "keep companies focused on the same strategic goals, ensure timely answers to pressing questions, and enforce accountability because everyone knows what everyone else is up to."
In theory, implementing a daily meeting with your team sounds simple. Establish some ground rules and stick to them. Typically, the rules include no problem-solving or rabbit holes, start on time, end on time (no more than 15 minutes). Keeping this meeting short and sweet is essential to its effectiveness. Include the right people, and if your organization is larger or more complex, cascade this habit to your departmental teams. Customize a simple agenda so you are sharing only the essential information.
Here’s our recommended Daily Huddle Agenda Template:
- Victories from Yesterday
- Priorities for Today
- Anything that has you Stuck?
Sounds simple enough, right? But, as we all know, the simplest ideas can sometimes present challenges in execution. So, I reached out to some of our clients who are successfully implementing daily huddles in their companies to learn from them - why they are doing huddles, the biggest benefits they are seeing, and what their advice is for other leaders who are looking to do them, too.
ImageFIRST is a good example of how a larger company successfully executes on daily huddles. They are the largest and fastest growing provider of healthcare laundry services to medical practices throughout the continental United States and Puerto Rico. They've got 36 locations and over 600 trained associates - so they have a lot of complexity in their business, but still find value in a simple tool like daily huddle. I reached out to Yoli Smith, the Regional HR Generalist based in Atlanta to find out more.
Daily Huddles are part of the culture at ImageFIRST. It is our opportunity to get with the associates to listen to their concerns, ideas and opinions. It is one of the things that makes us different.
The biggest benefit we've seen from Daily Huddles is that it builds trust among all associates.
It is a HUGE commitment. Don’t start them if you can't keep them going. Also, you need to define the purpose of them otherwise they can turn into something completely different.
Consumer Goods Example
I reached out to Vic Kennet, Founder/CEO of Kerusso, a leading Christian clothing company selling to over 100 countries and over 5,000 retailers, to find out more about how his team is implementing daily huddles. Vic uses his daily huddle time for department leaders to share any core values sightings, sync up on what each person is working on (including the top priority for the day), communicate yesterday’s result on each department's daily number, and let the team know if anyone is stuck. Following this department leader huddle, some of the leaders have a separate huddle for their teams. Vic encourages the team to stand, so they don’t get too comfortable, and emphasize the purpose of the meeting: to share information and expose issues, reducing the need for pop up meetings, unscheduled interruptions, and lots of back and forth e-mails.
Here’s what Vic had to say about the daily huddle rhythm in his company:
When I re-upped my commitment to implementing Rhythm at Kerusso, I knew that the daily huddle was supposed to be part of that foundation. I, too, like most leaders who learn about the daily huddle rhythm was skeptical about its frequency and the “alleged” impact it would have in our company. I really didn’t think we had a problem to solve, just knew it was part of the recommended plan and thought I better at least try what the Dr. had prescribed, and very glad I did!
We’ve experienced several cool things since implementing daily huddles throughout all departments.
The first thing that comes to mind is a stronger sense of community. Most people in your company want to be part of what’s going on, they want to know how the part they play impacts the whole. Huddles are helping them feel more connected here at Kerusso.
The second thing is simply awareness. I see it all the time in my daily department heads huddle, little pieces of information that come up in our “what’s on your plate today” portion that have clued someone in on an activity that has stopped confusion or redundancy – which saves time, money and frustration.
As we all know perfect is the enemy of “good” and good is way better than not at all!
Your first couple huddles may look like a newborn moose trying to walk for the first time – but don’t let that stop you from getting started.
Set your huddle plan and just get started! You’ll work out the kinks as you go.
After hearing from Vic, I also reached out to Carl Gilbert, Vice President of Member Services Operations at WellDyneRx, which provides full-service prescription drug management between patients and drug plans. Their huddle follows our standard recommended agenda of sharing victories from yesterday, priorities for today, and stucks.
Here’s what Carl had to say about the daily huddle rhythm in his company:
We implemented daily huddles to provide more frequent communication and sharing of information amongst leaders, starting with our Executive Leadership Team. The huddles have truly improved information sharing between leaders, and we have identified several processes that have improved the way we operate and manage the business.
One of the biggest benefits of our daily huddle is hearing about victories from each leader. Companies typically focus a great deal of energy on what’s not going well and how to improve, and the huddles help leaders remember there are many victories we should celebrate while also improving opportunity areas. Daily huddles also allow our team the opportunity to share “stuck” items and identify what, or who, is needed to help resolve the item. Best of all, daily huddles prove that teams can provide critical updates and accomplish a great deal in 10-15 minutes.
Here are tips I would extend to others looking to implement daily huddles:
- We have found that allowing each leader to cover victories and priorities first, followed by covering “stuck” items at the end, is a more efficient and effective use of the time.
- It is critically important that the team understands that daily huddles are not meant to solve all issues that are shared. The huddles allow leaders to share situations where they need help from someone else, and the group is able to help identify who or what is needed. The actual solving of the issue will take place outside of the meeting.
- Set expectations up front for attendance, being prompt and starting on time regardless of who is late.
- Reminding everyone to stand during the daily huddles truly reinforces the time commitment of 10-15 minutes (even those who attend remotely).
Hopefully, these leaders have inspired you to implement or improve your own daily huddle rhythms. Leave a comment if you have tips or ideas to share!
Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images