We like to take pride that we are one of those few entrepreneurial companies whose employees do go the extra mile and our success story as a common feature is a regular employee huddle. By huddles we don’t mean rigmarole based staff meetings but rather prefer a regular peer-to-peer discussion which is usually no more than 15 to 30 minutes daily or weekly on an ad-hoc basis. This is designed to support a self-directing, self-correcting workforce.
Of course we allow the supervisors to participate, but they don’t run the show and the stakeholders or vertical leads run the show. They revert back to supervisors only in case of a major crisis. We have observed that some of our huddles which focus on recent customer feedbacks to call out a great interaction that delighted a customer or to explore a problem and share ideas for how to fix it. Others focus on coordination issues to prepare for a big event like our annual CSR visit which we recently had at Belakku School was also a success due to the huddle. Yes we are all living in ‘Get Productivity instantaneously’ era and the chant of ‘It’s your productivity! Time you scaled it up’ are echoing in the IT fraternity at large due to what we are calling a brain drain syndrome. However there is a direct link between employee advocacy where he loves the job and what the workplace has to offer which will eventually generate better customer loyalty. We have seen from our experience and from an HR experience that employees become our advocates only when they are made to feel they have the autonomy to learn and grow and that their company really cares about their growth perspective.
We also have process huddles which focuses on key performance indicators so that the team can discuss better opportunities for improvement. No matter what the type of huddle, it serves several purposes for us to continuously better ourselves in areas of
1. Reinforcing commitment to our stakeholders and potential customers.
2. Giving and receiving help.
3. Escalating broader issues.
Since huddles give teams a chance to identify issues that require the attention of another functions or level of the organization. Someone mentions a corporate procedure they believe needs to be changed and others chime in that they’ve run into that same issue. The supervisor’s job isn’t to defend the policy it is pivotal to channel their concerns and suggestions like these to the leaders who can make the necessary decisions which has been a cause for our success in the market till date. In a growing company like ours huddles are an effective way for people to get to know each other better in scenarios. They come to feel and know that they have support from their colleagues and a place to take their concerns. “What’s great is to see how the huddle can make employees more comfortable giving each other feedback. They’re challenging each other and patting each other on the back when it’s due.” and that’s a reason for our partial success inspite of being a close knit team as we stand for each other. While we acknowledge that successful huddles require practice and experience. In the best ones, every team member actively contributes and most team members prepare in advance. Rather than feeling compelled to provide a solution to every problem, supervisors ask open-ended questions and encourage team members to offer suggestions.
We have let the employees run the discussion. This approach has helped to elicit the creativity of employees who knows our customers best and reinforces the message that the company listens to both its customers and its employees openly.
Lastly let’s take a moment to look the 3 elements that make up a powerful huddle:
1. Communicate vision: there is nothing more important in business today then communicating the shared vision of a team and insuring that you support that vision regularly. Too many businesses write out a vision or value statement and display it somewhere on the wall for all to see with no outcomes. The huddle becomes a great place for the leader to speak to the existing vision, to cast new visions and to inspire the team to embrace the journey ahead. This can be done intentionally by using the huddle as an opportunity to directly speak to the various aspects of the vision or by simply using “vision language” throughout the huddle.
2. Provide clarity: Many a times teams get sidelined or derailed because there is confusion regarding the individual roles and how those roles play out to accomplishing the vision. Having a regular time for the team to huddle provides clarity on who’s doing what and how that responsibility is adding value to the larger picture, clear expectations and add in directives which will ensure higher productivity, creativity, and innovation.A way to make this efficient and effective is to allow each team member the opportunity to share what they are working on and what obstacles they may be experiencing. This allows for exposure, accountability, and the opportunity for members to help each other accomplish tasks that may require extra support.
3. Demonstrate unity: The basic structure of a team assumes unity but often times this unity gets lost as star performers begin to do their part to make the business better and further their personal careers. To ensure that everyone on the team understand the importance of the team, regular huddles where everybody speaks to their part of the team becomes an invaluable resource.A leader can also use this time as an opportunity to recognizing those team members that have gone above and beyond in their efforts. In today’s working environment employees enjoy gratification by recognition and often leaders take too long to recognize their star performers. The huddle provides an opportunity for consistent recognition, support, and direction in this endeavor.
A regularly scheduled team huddle can go far in your efforts to enhance company culture, as long as they’re done with an intentionality and design. Don’t feel that you can simply throw something together and the last minute and have an impact. Leverage this time to build your team and add value to the culture that exists within your organization.
Here are some other tips for conducting successful huddles at your workplace:
Huddles have the most impact when they are a regularly scheduled part of the day; whether that is daily, every other day, or at most weekly.
Make the huddle interactive where every team member is responsible to share with the rest of the team. This may be difficult for some at first but it has great advantages.
Put a time limit on the huddle and on how much each individual shares with the team.
Allow different team members to lead the huddle and discover upcoming leaders.
Huddles are usually most effective when they are scheduled first thing in the morning. It is a great way to discuss the various elements of the day and how the team may be impacted.
There are many other creative and effective ways to organize a huddle. The only limitations are the ones that leaders place on themselves. Get crazy. Think outside the box. Build your culture through your team huddle.
Want a team huddle audit? Reach out to our RPO team for a complimentary pain point audit.
Written by Mr. Joseph Jayakumar, Director Amstar technologies