November 20, 2023

Cat Heyn, Senior Director,  Operations + Strategic Projects for Hyphn joins me in the writing of this blog post. Cat brings a deep understanding as a practitioner I am very grateful for,

The purpose of this blog is to explain how team huddles result in high performance and social wellbeing. The blog is inspired by the operations team of Hyphn.

“It is beneficial for crews to meet face to face to discuss progress and plan for the remainder of the shift. Structural resources working along Highway 126 have been using the outdoor space at the Obsidian Grill as a hub.” – Official public information

Organizations hold meetings to take decisions, convey information, and, to manage change. A huddle occurs when team members routinely meet to coordinate their actions. Huddles are organizational learning in action.

Huddles are routine and happen in the same space every time they meet. The hub is a physical space that allows every team member to be seen and heard by all other team members.

Huddles are held on a regular basis in the same space usually at the beginning of work. Unlike other meetings, huddles are short, lasting 10-15 minutes.  The facilitator begins by reviewing the performance of team members since their last huddle, and, concludes with planning the work that lies ahead. This is how team members start their days. By reviewing team performance, a positive culture is created, one that recognizes team members for the contributions – a powerful reward that improves productivity. By planning the day’s work, the team members are aligned and coordinate their collective actions.

Huddles are the how the organization practices continuous quality improvement, also known as the plan, do, study, act cycle.

By starting by reviewing the team’s performance from the previous day, the facilitator begins with the studyphase of the quality improvement cycle. The act phase of the cycle occurs as team members apply what they learned to their plan for the days work. The do cycle occurs during the workday.

Because huddles are the organizations continuous quality improvement cycle, they eliminate waste, reduce costs, and improve productivity.

  1. Written notes improve the huddle and are an important reference for the facilitator, reminding team members of their collective tasks.
  2. Even the best facilitators miss a day or two. For this reason, it’s a good idea for all members to practice facilitation with a rotating responsibility on a daily or weekly basis. This also results in equity in the huddle process.
  3. Data brings clarity and consistency to the huddle. For example, if bank employees huddle to improve their performance they might discuss how important it is to increase bank deposits. Having a daily record of how many dollars have been deposited give team members an objective measure. Data is like language and will improve coordinated actions, especially when it is timely, actionable, relevant and accessible.

  1. Daily huddles are the space where the values of the organization are aligned with leadership practices. 
  2. Employees are often recognized and promoted for their skills and productivity. Once promoted, the new leaders focus is no longer on their productivity but the productivity of the group – those they supervise. When daily huddles boost team morale, recognize employees for their contribution, and support team members group productivity or social capital improves.
  3. Daily huddles using data-based decisions are crucial for leadership development.
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