(This article on huddles and how to improve them was written by Mel Kleinman, who graciously gave me permission to share it with my readers.)
It’s only been relatively recently that the huddle has made its way from the playing field to the workplace, but it has proven to be just as effective in settings as diverse as the military, healthcare, and restaurants as it has always been in sports.
Now it’s reported, no matter the industry, employers who consistently use daily huddles realize increases in both productivity and profits due to the marked improvement in communications, focus, and morale huddles deliver. Simply put, huddles remind employees every day why they and their jobs are important while also making sure everyone is on the same page.
Leading an effective huddle, however, calls for a completely different strategy than used for the weekly staff meeting. Here then are The Top 10 Commandments of Pre-Shift Huddles:
1. Thou shalt keep your huddles short.
No longer than 10 minutes and shorter would be better. To this end, start on time every time with everyone standing and ready to go as soon as the huddle is over.
2. Thou shalt make huddles attendance mandatory.
No ifs, ands, or buts.
3. Thou shalt standardize the huddles agendas.
It might take a few weeks to hit upon the formula that works best for your team, but once you do, prep time will be minimized and everyone will relax because they know what to expect.
4. Thou shalt accentuate the positive.
What good things happened the day or shift before? What goals were met?
5. Thou shalt spell out the game plan.
Specify the day’s overall objectives and why they are important.
6. Thou shalt ask questions rather than issue commands.
Instead of “We’ve got to do it [better/ faster/cheaper],” ask “Does anyone have any ideas about how we could do it [better/faster/cheaper]?”
7. Thou shalt reinforce a training procedure.
“Can someone tell us what we do if…” (If no one can provide the correct answer, the training program/procedure needs fixing.)
8. Thou shalt ask for new learning.
Learn from your mistakes. Do this in the spirit of Neil deGrasse Tyson who says: “I love it when I make a mistake because it means I learned something new that day.”
9. Thou shalt ask for questions.
Questions are the key to clarification. Get even more group participation by asking if others in the group would like to provide the answers.
10. Thou shalt summarize and finish the huddles with a flourish.
Tell them what you told them (in one sentence) and then lead a cheer or have someone share an inspiring quote or recite the organization’s mission statement in unison. Just make sure participants leave fired up and ready to take care of business.
Certified Speaking Professional Mel Kleiman is an international authority, writer, speaker, pragmatic business owner, and consultant on frontline employee recruiting, selection, and retention best practices. He serves as president of Humetrics, founded in 1976, and is a member of several human resource-related boards and organizations. He is also a longstanding member of the Society for Human Resource Management and the National Speakers Association.