This article originally appeared in The Business Journals.
“I know I need to have meetings, but they seem like such a waste.”
Every leader has hit a point where he feels like his efforts to catch up with his team just aren’t working, and when I start coaching a company, the issue of communication (or miscommunication) always comes up.
While it may not be on the top of everyone’s list of issues, it’s always there, so it’s important to address it head-on and offer a system to help improve the situation.
A great way to refine your team’s communication habits (or establish them) is to get into a rhythm with meetings. Having a standing schedule of daily, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual meetings (each with an individual agenda and focus) will free up time and keep everyone aligned. That way, everyone knows when they are meeting and for what, so they can come prepared to make the most of the time they are gathered in one room.
One of the most potentially high-impact types of meeting is the “daily huddle” (or stand-up meeting). Huddles are essentially catch-up meetings where team members gather to share their daily schedules, to-do’s and areas where they may be “stuck” or need help, as well as any successes.
They are a company’s way of finding out “what’s up” with the team, but if huddles aren’t done effectively, they might leave team members feeling just as lost (or more so) than they did before the meeting.
Here are 3 ways to make your huddles more effective:
“Um. I will. Um.” I’ve noticed that people “Um” when they are thinking. The solution: Come prepared. Have each member of the huddle write out what they want to say before she comes to the meeting.
I recommend everyone write in a central repository like an alignment software or Google Doc. Whatever your agenda, whatever you’re going to say, write it exactly how you’re going to say it. This way, team members aren’t wasting time trying to decipher their own shorthand.
Since they are not thinking, they can be listening. Plus, if someone cannot physically be at huddle, they can still contribute to the huddle for everyone to read, and can catch up with the rest of the team’s contributions as well.
I often hear, “I don’t get value out of huddle,” and that may be true on some days. However, there is the mental shift you can make to improve your odds of success — focus your energy on adding value to others, not getting value.
Here is your chance to throw down a compliment, let people know what you are working on, and offer your perspective on what is happening at your company. If someone is stuck or needs help, you can do your part by catching them after huddle and offering to help them.
Let’s face it, if everyone goes into huddle working to add value to the group, everyone is sure to get some value out of it as well.
Be as detailed as possible in your script. It’s one thing to say “I’m meeting with three prospects,” but it’s another thing to say, “Today, I have three prospect meetings: Taylor from Harry’s Fans, Kelsey from Bronco Sallie’s and Camille from Tiger Eagle.”
The more detailed your script is, the more likely someone can offer insight: “Hey, I know Taylor. She used to be at Liam’s Panes and is super price-driven.” Or, “Camille is super direct, so bring your A-game.”
Without sharing details, you’re just meeting three prospects. Give your co-workers the chance to add value — that’s what they are looking to do.
Huddles don’t have to be complex. There is a benefit to keeping them simple, and they should never feel like a waste of time.
When everyone comes ready to share as well as listen, huddles can be an excellent way to improve communication among your team and build your company culture. And, that’s always a tremendously effective use of time.