Every afternoon at 3:56 our team stops what they are doing to gather in a common area. Here we meet for no more than 10 minutes and summarize our day by sharing an update on the following four items: good news from the past day, an update on your top one or two metrics, any stuck points that you need help in and the top priorities for the next 24 hours.
The Team Huddle is nothing new, innovative or revolutionary. They became widely popular around 2002 when Verne Harnish’s ‘Mastering the Rockefeller Habits’ was released and became a go to management resource. Since then many companies have come up with their own versions of a daily team huddle. While there are a few things to follow to make your daily huddle consistent, the important part is to continuously figure out what works best for your team.
Many teams start their day with a huddle and get their huddle in as early as possible. It’s a great way to check in at the start of the day, connect on trouble areas and encourage each other. Another tip is to start the huddle at an odd time because this can help people to remember and they are more likely to show up a little early. The length of your huddle should be only between 5 – 15 minutes depending on the size of your team. Keep things brief and on topic so that you don’t lose momentum during your huddle.
Take time to consider which team members should be a part of your team huddle. Ideally to keep your huddle quick keep it to no more than seven people. If more than that, you may want to consider splitting up your teams into groups that work closely together and would benefit most from connecting on a daily basis. However, this rule is not mandatory. Some teams break these rules and will have a company wide huddle. If you take this route you will want to consider how updates are handled since there will not be time for every team member to give an update.
Will you hold your huddles in person, over the phone, or some combination? Make sure to set clear guidelines for your team members so they know how to show up. Does your office have a meeting room, common area or other space that you can use for these? Keep in mind if there are other people around that may not be involved in a team huddle that could be distracted. You also want to make sure your team members are as comfortable as possible to give updates and have their voice heard in the huddle. If some team members work remotely try to accommodate them as much as possible too. Adding in technology can end up taking time to setup or troubleshoot so keep that in mind as well when deciding the logistics of your team huddle.
This is the part you can really have fun with and can bring out the best in your team. The important part is that the huddle agenda is the same every day to create routine. There are a lot of different opinions out there on what makes for an effective team huddle agenda. Some things are really important to connect on daily, but for your team some things may not matter as much. Take some time to consider the things that are important in your team’s success and that you want team members to be thinking about every day. Harnish recommends the following three items to address:
- What’s up: Check in on what has or is happening over a 24 hour period.
- Daily measurements: Cover some critical metrics that are important and relevant to each team member’s role.
- Bottlenecks: What’s getting in the way? Where are team members stuck and what do they need in order to move forward?
When it comes to the bottlenecks, this is the piece that can be the most beneficial because team members can have a place to vocalize what they are stuck on and other team members have a chance to help problem solve. Be careful here though, this is where your team huddle can be derailed. Make sure to allow team members to identify who can help and when, then move on to keep the meeting on track.
Some teams also like to add in a piece that is connected to their culture’s values. Giving ‘props’ to a team member that recently went above and beyond is common. Think about what makes your culture unique and how you can incorporate that into your team huddle. Your team may even want to come up with a name for your team huddle that aligns with your business to set it apart from other ‘Team Meetings’.
Another aspect that will set your team huddle apart from other meetings is that everyone stands up. This is effective for a couple different reasons; it will keep everyone energized and keep the meeting from going too long. For some teams, the team huddle is mandatory and team members will even step out of meetings to attend their team huddle. Make sure to assess if that aligns with your business and culture. If it is part of your culture to put customers and clients first, then forcing team members to leave a meeting right in the middle may not work for you. In deciding to make the team huddle mandatory, you may also want to consider the time of day of the meeting. When is a time that team members are most likely in the office? For some teams that may be in the morning, lunch or later afternoon. You may also want to consider assigning one person that leads the meeting or a specific order that the meeting will go. It is important to create this consistency as well to keep to the brief time line.
Try it Out
Try it out for a week and get feedback from your team. What is working, what is not working? This is the most important part of the team huddle. Keep adjusting and tweaking your team huddle until there is a good flow and it works for your team. This is not a one-size fits all recipe so don’t be discouraged if the first few tries are not working out. It will take a little time for your team to get into the habit and feel comfortable.
Our team members enjoy the opportunity to learn about what other team members are working on, time to celebrate successes and the ability to help support fellow team members.
At Optimus we work in a lot of different team environments with clients across time zones. We work as an extension of our client’s software teams. Contact us today and let us know how we can help your team.