How To Run A Daily Huddle

How To Run A Daily Huddle 

As mentioned in a previous article, The Power of Small Wins, studies show that when people can see that they are making tangible progress every step of the way and experience “small wins”, they become more engaged and productive. These “small wins” are the incremental steps toward longer-term goals.

One great way of leveraging these research findings is to conduct “Daily Huddles” or “Stand Up Meetings” to give everyone in the team a quick status update of what is going on, and just as importantly, what is actually getting done.

I have 2 approaches. One for teams who work synchronously (same time zone), the other for teams that work asynchronously (e.g. globally distributed teams) 

1. Synchronous Teams.

Duration.

No more than 15 minutes. 

Start at the exact same time each day. Schedule it for a time when you know most people will be physically present, or online and available.

Format.

Research shows that it’s important to focus on your “To Do” list as well as your “Have Done” list. As such, here are my recommended questions:

If you meet at the beginning of the day, ask these questions:

  1. What did you get done yesterday?
  2. What will you get done today, and what is “The One Thing”?
  3. Any roadblocks or needs?

Alternatively, if you meet at the end of the day, ask these questions:

  1. What did you get done today?
  2. What will you get done tomorrow, and what is “The One Thing”?
  3. Any roadblocks or needs?

Meeting Rules.

Stand in a circle (no sitting), or call in using your video conference platform if you work remotely.

Everyone physically present must put their phones away and pay full attention.

One person acts as facilitator (choose a different person to facilitate each day).

The meeting must start on time, to the minute. Do not wait for anyone. Any latecomers without a valid reason (including the CEO) make a compulsory $ contribution to the social fund.

The facilitator asks the first question of each person in turn. Usually, this will be in a circular fashion, but they may mix up the order to keep people on their toes.

When everyone has answered the 1st question, then the facilitator asks each person the 2nd question, and so on.

Keep the meeting snappy and energetic. Allow and enforce a one-minute-per-person time limit. If someone starts waffling or telling a detailed story that does not impact every person present, the facilitator should prompt them to speed up with words to the effect of, “Keep it moving”.

If a person arrives unprepared to answer the question, “What will you get done…?”, the team leader must take them aside after the meeting to help them prioritize their work so that they are prepared for future meetings. Don’t get too granular. Just list the big things you will get done (3 max). Most importantly, we want people to identify “The One Thing” (the most important Task they need to get done).

If a person’s “one thing” is contrary to the expectations of their team leader, the team leader needs to state words to the effect of, “There’s something else I would like you to work on. We’ll take it offline and discuss it after the huddle”

Force people to be specific. If a person says something generic like, “Make some sales” or “Work on the ABC project”, the facilitator should reject this by saying, “Be more specific”, and probe for a specific, tangible task that is within the person’s control. If they are working on a project, what specific piece of that project can they commit to completing that day?

Create a safe environment for people to put their hand up and ask for help when they are feeling stuck, but don’t try to solve their problems during the Huddle. If this type of discussion starts to occur, the facilitator should interject and say words to the effect of, “Let’s take this issue offline” and list the names of the persons who need to attend the problem-solving discussion immediately after the huddle is over.

Cascade up.

Here is a quick way to get the entire organization in sync, with a clear escalation sequence for all problems. The first daily huddle consists of front line workers. The next daily huddle, consisting of the team leaders, follows 30 minutes later. The leadership team meets for their daily huddle 30 minutes after that. Problems are raised and solved at the lowest possible level. If a decision or solution can’t be reached, the issue is escalated up to the next level. This “cascade up” series of meetings improves communication, decision making, and greatly accelerates overall company progress. 

2. Asynchronous Teams.

Teams who operate asynchronously in different timezones perform a similar daily process but use written text via their online chat platform and typically submit their update at the end of their working day.

They use different names for their huddles like “Daily Update” or “15-5 Report” (based on the work of Yvon Chouinard, CEO of Patagonia, who designed “15-5” reports as an efficient means of having information flow up the organization and help everyone prioritize their time and work together more effectively). 

It should take team members no more than 15 minutes to write their daily update, and it should take the manager no more than 5 minutes to read their team’s collective updates. 

Every day the team members post their responses to the questions in a designated meeting channel where their team can see them, and team members can add comments, offer praise, or offer support as appropriate below each post.

Again, keep things specific, tangible, and brief when describing tasks. 

Outcomes.

A well-run Daily Huddle will accelerate business execution. It is a great discipline to keep teams informed, aligned, and focused.

For team leaders, the Daily Huddle / Daily Update will help you identify who needs your help and support to keep things moving forward on a daily basis.

It will also illuminate how productive and engaged your team members are. If you notice someone who seems to be a bit “off” emotionally, you can make a point to catch up with them to ask how they are feeling and how you can best support them.

Bonus Question

At the end of each week I like to throw in a bonus fun question that helps people get to know each other better.

I’ve collected a big list of such questions over the years. Here is a small sample: What movie has influenced or impacted you most? If you were on death row and were allowed to choose your final meal, what would you choose? What is your party trick? What is the kindest thing anyone has done for you? What was your worst fashion disaster? etc

I’ve been amazed at how much I have learned about people doing this simple exercise, things I still remember years later!

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Until next time…
Stephen

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