More companies are embracing daily micro-meetings—a.k.a. "huddles" or "check-ins"--as a way of keeping colleagues in sync. A business practice long used everywhere from Capital One to the Ritz-Carlton, huddles got a boost in the small-business community from Verne Harnish, who called them a “must” for growth companies in his 2002 book Mastering the Rockefeller Habits. Short daily meetings, says Harnish, keep companies focused on strategic goals, ensure timely answers to pressing questions, and enforce accountability because everyone knows who is doing what.
A recent Inc. article describes huddles as “too streamlined to irk even hard-core meeting grouches” because they use the following ground rules:
• They last no longer than 15 minutes
• They begin on time
• They prohibit “problem solving”
Beyond this, huddles are customizable: They can occur at any agreed upon time of day; they can follow a formulaic agenda or be more improvisational; they can include all staff or key leaders.
"If you're a small organization, not doing this is crazy," says Patrick Lencioni, author of Death by Meetings. "When you're small, you can develop connections among staff that make you more nimble. Daily check-ins help you build a culture of unity and sustain it as you grow."
We want to hear: Does your organization use huddles, and what do you see as their benefits? If not, Do you think their addition might be valuable? To join the conversation, click "comments" on our Community of Practice Forum.
If you would like to read more about creating a habit around masterful communication, check out our book: Be Quiet, Be Heard: The Paradox of Persuasion.
3/8/2016 09:45:19 am
Yes - my division uses these short-meetings very effectively. Many teams have daily stand-ups where each person answers the questions: what I did yesterday, what I'm doing today, what (if any) impediments are in my way. We also use a division-wide weekly huddle to discuss software projects being implemented. It keeps all teams on the same page and helps ensure we didn't forget to communicate with someone.
3/8/2016 10:45:41 am
Thanks for this comment Beth. Wondering how long your daily stand-ups are and whether there is a time limit for each person's 3 answers. Also: How many people attend? Appreciate your sharing your insights and experience with our community!
3/9/2016 06:44:42 am
I worked in a place that had 10-minute stand-up meetings every Monday morning. People were able to share what they were doing. I loved those meetings, but somehow they gradually became longer and morphed into "regular" meetings. Standing for half an hour (or more) is not comfortable for a lot of people and some people reached for chairs because they couldn't stand that long. In my opinion the meetings became unproductive. I don't know why the organizer (the boss) let this happen, but it ruined a good thing.
3/9/2016 04:52:52 pm
Yes, Sharon: There is something about a 10 minute huddle that works in a much different way than a longer meeting. We believe that longer meetings can also be high impact -- but in a very different way. And you have identified what can happen when -- little by little-- people talk more and more and the huddle model leaves.
I work in a child protection agency and our investigation units hold daily "huddles" four days a week first thing in the morning. I've seen a huge difference in office morale when these meetings are held compared to when they are not held. The staff are more organized, calmer, and connected with each other when they have this brief opportunity to meet. The meetings are very informal and used to touch base with each other and/or share information. I'd highly recommend them or something like them, especially in high activity and energetic work environments. We've held true to the purpose of the meetings and have been conscientious to not drift to using that time for other purposes.
3/9/2016 04:55:44 pm
Great to hear this, Sara, and to know that it is possible to keep a huddle model alive. Appreciate learning how your staff has become more organized, calmer and connected as a result of these informal meetings. Kudos to your team for not letting these huddles drift into other forms and purposes.
3/9/2016 07:36:28 pm
Our consultancy engagements include mandatory team huddles as a part of our business process re-engineering strategies. 10 to 15 minutes daily, first thing each morning. Recap the prior day's accomplishments, review staffing and assignments for current day, stating team goals for the day, as well as exposing potential barriers to productivity. It is a critical element of the overall design. It gives the teams a reason to celebrate the prior day's victories and recalibrate based on observed gaps. Fast, informative, sets the pace for the day. Discussions are tabled until the huddle has ended. Huddles clarify work assignments and eliminate the guesswork that workers previously faced when trying to figure out their assignments for the day.
3/10/2016 01:46:55 pm
Wow, Brian: You certainly accomplish a huge amount in 10-15 minutes! Love the way these huddles celebrate yesterday's accomplishments (how rare is that!) as well as clarify work assignments and barriers to success. How long have you been maintaining this huddle practice? What have you done to prevent them from getting longer over time as Sharon was describing above? Thanks for introducing your insights to our community.
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