We have been doing daily team huddles on and off at CGM since around 2006. Our huddle is a quick team meeting to review the day’s work. We believe they are a key to our success. Why on and off you ask? Because we learned the hard way. After being introduced to the concept we started huddles having no experience executing them. They were awkward, quiet, and no one liked them. We stayed with it and worked it until they got better. They were working so well that we did not realize how effective they were in our performance. We mistook the five minutes at the end of the day as a waste of time because nothing really came of them. We decided to pick up the time and abandon our daily huddle.
Then the unthinkable happened at Chicago Glue … we missed shipping an order. It was one order out of hundreds. We quickly addressed it and moved on. Unfortunately, it happened again. It was only then that we realized we needed to bring the huddle back.
The checklist of what is covered at the huddle continues to evolve. Our order processing and accounting huddle is daily. Currently it has 21 items on the checklist and takes between five and ten minutes a day. The expectation is clear at the beginning of the day what we are looking to accomplish. Towards the end of the day, we check-in to see how we did. If someone is out unexpectedly, we can easily identify anything that needs coverage, and if a mistake is made, our huddle helps us catch it quickly, discuss as a team, and adjust. Even if it costs us a little extra in time or money, we can honor our commitments without any disruption to our customers. On the occasions when we can’t prevent the disruption, we work together to be as proactive as we can about owning it as a team and addressing it.
We learned the hard way that if the huddle takes two minutes, it means we had a phenomenal day and did everything we committed to doing internally and externally. YEAH!
When nearly 75% of the huddle staff went to remote work because of COVID, the huddle did not miss a beat and neither did our performance. In fact, we have exceeded our shipped on-time correct goal four times since March. This reinforced the hard lesson we learned early on that huddles, when done well, support high performance.
When we were in person, we left our desks and held the huddle in a conference space. Some people or everyone may linger a little while to chat, sometimes about work sometimes to tell jokes. This still happens on our Teams call and I value it now more than ever. What I didn’t appreciate until we were all working remotely is the huddle gives us a connection point and that may be the biggest positive impact of our huddles. There are some days I jump on the huddle call just to see people because I used to see them multiple times a day in the office and I miss them.
One of our core values is continual improvement. We would love to hear your huddle ideas and are happy to share ours. If interested, please email us at email@example.com.