Whether you are meeting virtually or in person, one of the hardest parts of working in a team is coordinating and aligning each individual’s effort. Even with everyone on the team working hard and trying to be as productive as possible to get a project or goal completed, you may find that team members are crossing paths, duplicating efforts, or fighting over resources. If the team isn’t constantly in disarray and not working cohesively, the team and said projects will go nowhere fast.
Many companies have implemented a daily team huddle to check in, make sure everyone is working well together, and to ensure everyone is on the same page. These meetings can have many names, but the purpose is always the same – what’s been accomplished, what’s next, who is assigned what, and what resources are needed.
Many employees hate the daily huddle because they feel they are ineffective and can be seen as a waste of time when they could already be working on their next task. However, these meetings don’t have to be a chore if you fix these more common issues.
- Keep them short. A huddle is meant to be only 5-10 minutes. If yours lasts 20-30 minutes, then it’s a meeting and chewing up too much time. Employees will get bored and lose focus, or even skip the meeting. Set a timer and even if you aren’t done, stop the meeting when it goes off. Eventually, you’ll get better at time management. Show the team the timer so they know how much time is left so if they have a priority then can make sure it gets addressed.
- Stay focused. It’s so easy to get off topic, but a huddle needs to be very targeted. Address the list of issues starting with priorities first. You won’t be able to resolve every issue during a huddle, that can be done afterward with key members of the team involved. A huddle is to talk about what happened in between yesterday’s huddle and what needs to happen before tomorrow’s – that’s all. Everything else can be addressed after the huddle.
- Be prepared. Everyone should come prepared with updates or questions. You shouldn’t need to wait for someone to find an email or file or shuffle through notes. Having a post-it or index card with a few bullets is all each team member should need to give their update.
- Someone needs to lead. Even if it’s a team meeting, someone needs to be in charge and facilitate. Call the meeting to order, keep things moving, and make sure people have a chance to speak and provide updates or ask questions. You can even rotate this responsibility across the team.
- Don’t invite outsiders. The team huddle is just for the team. It’s not a chance for other departments to join in to ask for updates or ask questions. If other departments want to join or are asked to join, request that they remain as a silent observer unless they are addressed specifically for input.
Team huddles aren’t meant to be a state of the union addresses, but they also aren’t easy to get them right so everyone stays on task, on target, and on time. It’s so easy to get sidetracked towards unrelated topics and have the meeting drag on. The best teams work hard to keep their huddles short and sweet. Done well, they will increase a team’s focus and pace. Done poorly, they will become just another meeting everyone tries to avoid.
Senior Vice President, Commercial Team Leader