Wouldn’t it be nice if you just had a checklist that led you through the rules of making your staff Huddles work all the time, every time? Well, we thought it might be nice too, so we compiled the following steps to help you make the most of your staff Huddles.
Making Huddles Work—A Checklist
1. Huddle weekly. “People can fall off the boat in a week,” says Great Game of Business Coach, Scott Ward. “Besides, any longer than that and you’ll have too much information to push through the system. Too much will have changed.”
2. Make the Huddle educational. Take advantage of teachable moments, but don’t go overboard. Hit the financial highlights. Talk a little about what’s going on in a featured department. Use an activity to introduce a new financial concept or ratio. Save a little time at the end for a recap and a brief Q&A on the numbers.
3. Keep it simple. Aim for simplified financials, numbers that people can grasp quickly. Many practitioners look at a detailed financial plan in their management Huddle, but consolidate the financial plan to as few lines as possible for the all-staff Huddle.
4. Keep it short and solution-oriented. To establish a rhythm, publish the agenda, designate a meeting leader, and get a stopwatch. A Huddle shouldn’t be used to resolve disputes or investigate variances that aren’t well understood. Get people together afterward if there’s a situation that needs more attention.
5. Make sure attendees leave with the same numbers. Build financial reports on the spot by punching numbers into a laptop, then print and post them. Update the financials on the company intranet and e-mail links to the new data and meeting notes. Do whatever works.
6. Practice makes perfect. To prepare managers can hold a mock pre-Huddle (see below), where managers ask each other the types of questions employees might ask. A few run-throughs or dress rehearsals will give them confidence.
7. Drill down with post-Huddles. Post-Huddles are the department or team meetings in which people review the numbers compiled at the main Huddle. The overall purpose of a post-Huddle is to make sure each member of an individual workgroup understands the numbers from the main Huddle. Put line employees, not managers, in charge of reviewing those numbers. Taking on that responsibility helps people get up to speed faster.
8. Audit the process. If you have several locations, check to be sure everyone’s Huddling. Even in a small company, ask someone to check on whether employees in every department understand and feel responsible for their numbers and their part in the Huddle. Document and share work Huddle and empowerment best practices.
9. Spread the Word. Form a team to coordinate and “market” your internal empowerment efforts. Remember, the power of the Huddle is in the participation.
Are there any other rules at your company for making your Huddles great? Share them in the comments below.