Many small businesses and startups are quite agile. The relatively simple structure of most small businesses means they are well placed to adapt to changing market conditions, the ever-increasing pace of working life and evolving customer needs.
If everyone in the business is empowered to act in the interests of your customers, you’ll find that the decisions they make and the work they do is likely to have a real impact on customer satisfaction and loyalty.
To make sure that your people are empowered to act, you need to ensure they are up-to-date with key business activities. One of the best ways you can keep everyone updated is through a simple daily huddle.
What is a daily huddle?
A daily huddle is a powerful way to bring your team together, stay on track, and address issues as they arise. It is short, focused and practical and the key is to concentrate on moving forwards.
It is not the time to discuss strategic priorities, so if an issue emerges about priorities then it needs to be picked up when you have time to explore it effectively, such as in a monthly planning meeting.
It is important that the meeting is held at the same time every day, with everyone present. This provides a rhythm and a regular chance to check in.
Daily huddles can help you to identify problems which you can then solve, removing barriers to progress across the business. It is better to take any major issues offline, so they can be discussed afterwards in an appropriate level of detail.
Daily huddles can also help you knit closer together as a team, benefiting from regularity of connection.
What to cover in your daily huddle
These three questions will help you to maintain a daily rhythm of review and issue identification:
- What’s coming up? (key events or activities in the next 24 hours)
- How are we doing? (update on key performance metrics)
- Where are we stuck? (what will or could prevent progress)
Leading a huddle
Every huddle needs a leader. It is helpful to agree ground rules, such as each person’s contribution only lasting for one or two minutes. Invite everyone to contribute regularly wherever they are located.
As a leader, you can help to build trust and mutual understanding by encouraging everyone to share information.
Too many meetings already?
To empower teams effectively, leaders and managers need to provide a clear framework for the team and have regular communications so that there is a healthy flow of feedback both to and from the team and you.
Many business leaders and managers spend too much time in meetings. It’s all too easy for a typical working day to become a procession of hour-long commitments, leaving little time for reflection, informal conversation or strategic thinking.
The daily huddle is one meeting that is worth protecting. Alongside regular planning meetings and review meetings at the end of projects, daily huddles create a routine that helps your team function at its most productive level.
When you have team members spread out geographically, regular interaction can be more of a challenge. Even in our era of digital communication it is too easy for ‘out of sight, out of mind’ to become a reality.
Even more important, then, to have a drum beat of regular meetings in which the team can connect, build relationships, and have time to understand each other’s priorities and issues. Set up a regular virtual huddle and encourage everyone to join in.
Communicate via multiple channels
Another helpful tip with virtual teams is to over-communicate using multiple channels, so people in various locations can receive information and be part of dialogue in ways that suit them.
Use video and conference calls, digital channels like Yammer, written or recorded messages for updates, WhatsApp, or similar group apps to share daily news. Digital platforms can also enable people to learn together and share insights, which helps embed learning in the workplace.
Encourage the team to own these channels, and to introduce new methods as they wish, to maximise ownership of the communications.
The key idea is the more splintered your team the more communications channels and effort is needed to build and maintain a sense of shared purpose and accountability for shared results.
The daily huddle can help you to build a culture of empowerment where information and responsibility are widely shared.
Frequency and consistency of communications is important. Give colleagues access to all the information they need and they will be better equipped to make decisions that meet the needs of your customers.
Giving people as much information as possible gives them more opportunity to adapt to changing priorities, and to work intelligently on their part of the picture.
Withholding information in my experience is a sign of an insecure manager who does not trust their people sufficiently to deserve the title of ‘leader’.
Regular, daily, team-based communication can help you ensure that everyone is connected – to each other, to your business priorities, and to your customers.
About the author
This guide has been written exclusively for ByteStart by Dr Simon Hayward, author of The Agile Leader (priced at £14.99 and published by Kogan Page) and CEO of Cirrus, a leading provider of leadership development and change programmes to large and ambitious organisations. Simon is a dynamic thought leader, media commentator and conference speaker.
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