A biological clock inside us establishes a natural rhythm to life. The circadian rhythm repeats every 24 hours and influences our sleep, body temperature, and organ functions. Additionally, we adapt to the changes in our natural environment caused by the cycles of our planet. Humans understand and depend on rhythms.
High-functioning businesses also have a rhythm that aligns and synchronizes team members with their environment. To establish this rhythm, your organization needs a daily meeting to set a cadence similar to our body’s circadian rhythm. This critical meeting is called the Daily Huddle, and hundreds of thousands of organizations around the world conduct the meeting every day.
During these times of uncertainty and daily changes to our work environment, this meeting is even more critical, especially if your team has people working remotely. A traditional office environment has a built-in daily rhythm based on when team members arrive in the morning and leave in the afternoon. The workday rhythm is natural to see, align, and utilize. But when team members work remotely, it’s easy to lose connection with the company pulse.
Before we get into the details of how to establish a Daily Huddle, I’m confident some readers have already objected to the idea of having “another meeting.” Common objections include:
- “We already meet too much.”
- “I’m constantly emailing, chatting, and talking to my team. They know what’s going on.”
- “Our business doesn’t change often enough to meet daily.”
If you have these concerns, understand that the Daily Huddle is different from the typical meeting. This short, daily touchpoint with the team establishes a regular flow of information. And more importantly, it creates connection, alignment, and community within your organization.
Your Company’s Daily News
The best analogy to understand the Daily Huddle is to look at the rhythm of your typical day. The majority of people have some daily news source, whether it’s the local morning news program, a favorite news website, or listening to a radio program on the drive to work. The main takeaway from these news sources is headlines and knowledge that informs your day, for example:
- “What’s happening in the world that might impact me?”
- “Should I take an umbrella today?”
- “Are there any accidents on the I-405?”
- “What was the score of the game last night?”
People like to be informed about what’s going on in the world around them. This feeling is part of what creates community. By having essential data about our world, we make better decisions. In business, we need our team members to be equally informed. The solution is the Daily Huddle.
The Daily Huddle Structure
Timing – When does it occur?
As the name implies, the Daily Huddle happens daily. Most organizations find the best time to have the meeting is early in the morning, close to the official start of the business day. If your office opens at 8:00 am, consider having the Daily Huddle during the first 30 minutes of the workday. That gives people just enough time to settle into their office and get ready for this critical touchpoint.
A simple tip to make the meeting start time memorable is to use an odd time like 8:09 am instead of 8:15 am. An accounting firm that I work with has the Daily Huddle at 10:40 am, a not-so-subtle nod to their most common deliverable for clients, the corporate tax return (IRS Form 1040).
I have seen some organizations host successful huddles in the afternoon to allow for focused time in the morning. The most important aspect of the meeting time is that people can attend. It’s a mandatory meeting.
Duration – How long does it last?
The Daily Huddle is a short, no-nonsense delivery of essential information to the team. It should take fifteen minutes or less. Let me emphasize; the meeting will last fifteen (15) minutes or less! If you allow your Daily Huddle to digress into lengthy discussions and updates, it will likely lose the engagement of the attendees.
Attendees – Who should attend?
The attendees are any group of team members that can learn relevant information from each other. In a small company of 25 or fewer employees, this group is often everyone. And if you’re wondering about the 15-minute duration, I’ve seen groups of 50 complete the entire agenda below in less than 15 minutes. See my tips below to make these meetings efficient.
In larger organizations, you will build a tiered structure of multiple Daily Huddle groups. For example, the Sales, Accounting, and Operations teams will all complete their Daily Huddle meeting at 8:09 am. A representative from each team (typically the manager) will then participate in a Management Team Huddle at 8:31 am to share any relevant information from the departmental huddles. All pertinent information from the Management Team Huddle is discussed the next day in the department huddles.
This communication tool provides a pathway to disseminate information up and down throughout the organization. I’ve witnessed organizations with over 3,000 team members successfully deploy a layered, hierarchical structure of Daily Huddles made up of approximately ten team members. By the 10:31 am Executive Team Huddle, information about a problem on the front lines will have reached the leaders via the Daily Huddle.
The Agenda – What to cover in the Daily Huddle?
The Daily Huddle consists of four rounds of information sharing by each attendee, following the pattern of a news program described earlier. You can download and view online the Simons.Coach Daily Huddle Planning Tool.
Round 1 – Headlines:
Each participant takes their turn to share “Headlines” by answering the question, “What happened yesterday or will happen today that is relevant information my fellow team members need to know?” This valuable information may include:
- Things to Celebrate – Major wins and accomplishments, for example, “The Newco account signed the new agreement yesterday.”
- Relevant Schedule Information – Important calendar information, for example, “My flight leaves at 2:00 pm today, so if you need any checks cut, please get your requests to me early this morning. And remember, I’m at the conference for the rest of the week.”
- Knowledge to Share – Critical knowledge learned, for example, “The latest update of our CRM now has a shortcut to connect a contact to their LinkedIn profile. Please update those LinkedIn connections when you’re viewing a contact.”
- News About People – Information uncovered about team members, clients, and partners, for example, “Today is Mr. Smith’s birthday. When he comes for his client meeting today, make sure to wish him a ‘Happy Birthday!'”
- Recognition and Appreciation – Gratitude for team members, for example, “I want to give a Core Value shoutout to Sue. Your work on the Newco contract was a great example of ‘On Time Every Time.'”
An important note, every participant will have at least one Headline. If a person has a hard time finding something to share, it’s a sign that they’re not looking hard enough, or they’re not engaged in the team’s activities.
The focus of the Headlines is business-related information, but occasionally a team member may share some relevant personal news. For example, “I’m excited that we closed on our new house today.” It’s a cultural preference of the organization about how much personal news to share in Headlines. Just ensure that the primary purpose of the Daily Huddle, sharing of relevant business information, is accomplished.
Round 2 – Weather:
Each participant will share their critical metrics for their role on the team. Most positions have three key metrics or less. Similar to the weather forecast, the team will align their decisions based on team metrics.
One of my favorite examples is from a recent business trip. I had a long wait for my car at the valet stand after checking out from a large hotel. I asked the valet what was taking so long. He replied, “Sir, I’m sorry. It’s a busy day. We have 491 people checking out, and 523 people checking in today.” I’m confident he received those critical numbers in a pre-shift, Daily Huddle. The valet team knew to staff up and hustle because of the critical metrics shared in a Daily Huddle.
If your team does not have established critical metrics for their role, you will need to complete this step. These metrics are also important from a management and accountability standpoint.
Another use of Weather is to report the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) on individual quarterly priorities. If your organization has annual and quarterly, cascading priorities, the Weather round is the place to report on progress. For example, “I am five of eight on defining the customer onboarding process.”
Round 3 – Traffic:
Each participant will share any significant roadblocks or obstacles they need to have resolved by another team member. This obstacle is preventing them from completing a particular task, assignment, or priority. It’s important to appreciate that reporting an obstacle, also known as a “Stuck,” in the Daily Huddle, is the final step in asking for help.
For example, Sue sends Bob an email on Monday morning asking him to send his changes on an important contract that is due on Wednesday. On Tuesday, Bob still hasn’t responded to Sue’s email, so she calls him. Bob tells Sue that he’s busy on another project and abruptly hangs up the phone. On Wednesday, Sue uses the Daily Huddle to share her “Stuck” with the team; she needs Bob’s feedback on a contract that has to be delivered today. Bob’s responsibility is to now meet with Sue immediately following the Daily Huddle to agree on a solution to the obstacle.
On a high-functioning team with reliable communication and accountability, the use of “Stucks” is infrequent. Unless the team member has tried multiple steps to resolve the obstacle, they should not bring it to the Daily Huddle. It is the last attempt to get help by making it public to the team.
Round 4 – Focus:
The final step in the Daily Huddle is for each participant to share their specific focus for the day. What is the one thing that they will accomplish during the day? The “one thing” is their most important goal to keep the company moving forward. It must be specific and measurable, so the team can hold them accountable. Examples include:
- “I will complete ten cold calls today.”
- “I will deliver the Newco proposal by 3:00 pm.”
- “I will release the month-end reports for the partner meeting by Noon.”
A team member’s Focus is not a “To Do” list of multiple items. It is the most critical task to complete today. It is surprising how many individuals get distracted and can’t complete their primary goal of the day. By building a rhythm of stating and achieving the top priorities of the team, the Daily Huddle will create accountability within the organization.
Close With Energy:
Finally, finish the Daily Huddle with a team cheer. Like any sports team that’s leaving the locker room to enter the field of battle, the Daily Huddle sends your team off on a high note. Cheer to a Core Value, celebrate a team member, recognize a milestone, show gratitude to a new client, or motivate with an inspirational message. For example, “Everybody hands in. Let’s cheer to our health on three. One, two, three, ‘Health!”
The cheer at the end of the Daily Huddle may sound cheesy, but it provides energy, motivation, and alignment for the entire team. There’s a reason championship sports teams do it. Try it, and you’ll be surprised by the results.
More Daily Huddle Tips
Here are several tips to making your Daily Huddle even more successful:
- When first starting a Daily Huddle, you’ll likely receive pushback from team members. Nobody likes change, and they certainly don’t want more meetings. Share the article “Daily Huddles: Keeping Teams Aligned in Real-Time” with all team members, so they know the purpose and process of the Daily Huddle. Also, commit to the Daily Huddle as a critical communication touchpoint for the organization. It should be non-negotiable moving forward.
- Start on time, every time. If someone is late to the meeting, just start without them. Later, follow up with those team members and coach them to be on time.
- In an office environment, one trick to get everyone to assemble and start on time is music. A few minutes before the start of the Daily Huddle, play the “song of the day” over the intercom or a speaker. As soon as the song ends, the meeting starts. It gives an audio queue to team members to begin moving towards the meeting space. Make it an honor to select the “song of the day.”
- Everyone must come prepared to keep the meeting 15 minutes or less. Create a simple template for everyone to pre-fill out before the meeting, or use a tool like AlignToday.com, Metronome, or even Google Sheets to capture the information in one place. Having a record of everyone’s Daily Huddle becomes a living journal of the team’s wins, losses, key learnings, and accomplishments. Download the Simons.Coach Daily Huddle Planning Tool.
- The Daily Huddle is not for discussions or questions. If team members need to follow up on a topic raised during the meeting, they should do it after the meeting. When team members start conversing about an item, ask them to take it offline.
- Identify the person or group of people that are good at running a meeting. These are typically high-energy, extroverted team members that are comfortable keeping a team focused on the agenda. It’s okay to rotate the leader of the Daily Huddle, or just have one designated leader. Note that the manager is not always the best person to run these meetings.
- If meeting in person, do not sit down; stay standing. By having team members stand, it encourages everyone to be efficient and focused. Hold the Daily Huddle in the middle of a common area where everyone gathers in a circle. A conference room is not necessary and may be distracting.
- When meeting with remote team members, use a video conferencing system like Zoom, Teams, or Google. Seeing someone in person creates connections and also keeps them engaged. If they call in on the phone without video, it’s tempting to put their phone on mute and get distracted. When people are on video, it is easy to create accountability. For more information about effective video conference calls, read “7 Tips for Better Video Conference Calls.”
- Don’t just go around the room with updates; have the leader randomly pick the first person to start. After that person has finished their update, they call on the next person to follow them. After establishing the pattern in Round 1, follow the same pattern for the following rounds. This technique will keep everyone focused and engaged.
- If someone can’t attend a Daily Huddle, they are responsible for sending their updates to another team member to share during the Daily Huddle. Just because they can’t attend, doesn’t mean they get to skip. If you’re using a written tool to capture everyone’s responses, any person that missed the Daily Huddle is responsible for reading everyone’s updates later in the day to stay informed.
- Be on the lookout for team members who continually repeat the same information over and over without progress, lack any focus, or have nothing to contribute. Coach these team members to address their performance. The Daily Huddle is a great tool to quickly identify disengaged or unfocused team members.
- The best time for people to prepare for the Daily Huddle is at the end of the day. Schedule a calendar event for team members from 4:45 pm to 5:00 pm to “Prepare your Daily Huddle for the next business day.” This step serves three purposes. First, the relevant information they need to share at tomorrow’s Daily Huddle is still fresh on their mind. Second, team members come prepared to the Daily Huddle with their updates in writing. And finally, it provides a distinct endpoint to the workday.
- Encourage team members to capture throughout the day any information to share in tomorrow’s Daily Huddle. It becomes a habit to identify news for the Daily Huddle and will reduce the number of mass emails sent to the team. Team members should keep a copy of the Simons.Coach Daily Huddle Planning Tool on their desk to capture notes during the day. The Daily Huddle will reduce the number of internal emails.
- For additional tips on creating and leading effective meetings, see “5 Tools to Improve Any Meeting.”
Benefits for Remote Workers
The Daily Huddle is a critical tool to align a team and ensure healthy communication within an organization. It is also an essential tool for creating a community connection and an office rhythm for remote workers.
A team member that works remotely can experience loneliness and a feeling of disconnection from the team. Having a daily touchpoint with video goes a long way towards replacing the sense of community found in most office environments. Leaders talk about the importance of a healthy culture in their company, and a Daily Huddle is the best way to extend that culture to remote staffers.
The rhythm of the organization is critical for remote workers. When your commute is the walk upstairs to your home office, it’s not easy to have a defined schedule. The distractions that come along with working at home also contribute to that fuzzy schedule. By having a Daily Huddle, it provides a clear starting point for the business day, for workers at the office and those working remotely.
For additional tips on creating and leading effective meetings, see “5 Tools to Improve Any Meeting.”
If you have more questions or comments about the Daily Huddle, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rob Simons is a coach, facilitator, and storyteller – a unique fusion of skills that makes him uniquely equipped to coach entrepreneurs and business leaders to scale organizations. Using the Rockefeller Habits as his foundation, Rob has successfully trained hundreds of clients to build a culture of purpose, alignment, and accountability in organizations across a variety of industries. Contact Rob at email@example.com or 210-845-2782.