During busy times it can be easy to forget the employees that keep things going. Customers are most business owners’ primary concern and losing sight of employees is not unusual when it’s really crazy with customers asking questions and looking for answers. However, too much time spent without recognizing and nurturing employees can end poorly. When employees feel neglected, they can lose motivation, get jaded, and end up treating customers with indifference or even rudeness. Every manager’s nightmare.
So what’s the solution? How can busy, time-stretched managers efficiently maintain a consistent practice of supporting employees?
One thing I’ve seen that’s proved to be very effective is the daily huddle.
In American football, each point of action is a set piece like a move in a chess game, and prior to each move or play, there is a brief huddle meeting where the details of the next play are articulated so that everyone knows exactly what to do and what everyone else is doing. And communication is not all, the huddle is a chance to refocus on critical priorities, recognize great play, and motivate better performance.
In business, daily huddles can bring the same benefits, namely, clarity, focus, recognition, and motivation, and all with efficiency. Here are six tips for holding effective huddles.
- Don’t sit down. Have all attendees stand in a circle or around the perimeter of a room. This will keep the meeting short and ensure everyone stays alert.
- Communicate critical information. This can include key action items for the day, recurring challenges to look out for, and any key performance indicators that need to be a focus.
- Celebrate any instances of superior employee performance. Examples include service success stories, recognition of employees mentioned in customer surveys, sales success stories, and instances of employees helping fellow employees.
- Collaborate on solutions to problems. This is where managers can engage their team in improvement. By simply asking employees what they think and what things they might do to make things better, managers can solve problems and start the ball rolling on innovation. They also send a message about how much they value their team members and how success is truly a team effort and not a solo affair revolving around the leader.
- Invite input. In all three phases of the huddle, communicating, celebrating, and collaborating, the manager should invite team members to contribute their own stories, recognition of coworkers, or ideas for improvement. Inviting participation is essential to engagement and motivation.
- Commit to a time limit. Huddles are not meant to be long affairs. Ten to fifteen minutes is all that is needed. Make a commitment to keeping these meeting short and focused. No PowerPoint slides, no formal presentations, and no speeches. Huddles are informal and interactive. The leader is there to present key information and facilitate participation. Short and focused with a regular cadence are keys to good huddles.
Busy times are perhaps the most important times for managers to pay attention to their employees, however, an unfortunate reality is how easy it is to get so caught up in the busy-ness that team members get lost in the shuffle. And the sad outcome of this neglect is the slow death of morale which leads to poor service and lost revenue. Huddles however can be just the tonic that ensures employees feel valued and included as essential contributors. All in just ten minutes a day. Huddle up!