The daily scrum meeting in Agile methodology has one singular purpose: to inform team members what’s been done and what’s left to be done. Productive scrum meetings contribute to a project’s timely delivery. Because of its effectiveness, managers and team leaders outside of the SaaS industry have created variations on its format to suit their own purposes and reap the benefits.
The daily huddle, a brief and concise check-in have two valuable meeting characteristics: 1) They’re condensed to save time 2) They’re structured to meet specific goals, including:
- Facilitating communication
- Increasing focus
- Removing roadblocks
- Enforcing accountability
- Boosting morale
The beauty of a daily huddle is that its form is endlessly adaptable and can be designed to meet your specific needs. But, before you start from scratch, try one of these templates from three companies that use them to save time, increase engagement and set their team up for daily success.
Daily Huddle Template #1
Vlad Drazdovich is a Senior Account Executive at Red Banyan, a strategic communications and crisis PR agency. The company has four remote offices—South Florida, Texas, Georgia, and Washington, D.C. — where 11 employees gather via video conference every morning for a short meeting. Red Banyan’s daily huddle agenda consists of two parts: shout outs and priorities. The meeting takes about 15 minutes and works well for remote offices.
The meeting begins with the recognition of an individual employee’s notable achievements from the previous day. But more than simple appreciation, Drazdovich says each shout-out is also a strategic way to show how individual achievements exemplify a company’s core values.
The meeting ends with each team member reviewing their top priorities for the day. Priority listing informs all team members of the status of projects and duties while enforcing accountability for daily goals.
Daily Huddles and Remote Teams
Daily huddles like Red Banyan’s are ideal for remote teams or team members. Because of their physical distance, remote workers can feel excluded from in-office happenings, but with daily huddles—everyone plays.
“The introduction of an all-hands daily huddle became a pivotal moment in our company’s history,” Drazdovich explains. “It now serves as a very useful tool for not only keeping the team unified and coordinated but also for creating a real human connection between team members across all locations.”
Keep your meetings short and effective with a dependable conference calling service and a good daily huddle template like Red Banyan’s.
Daily Huddle Template #2
Tom Richert of Lean Project Consulting coaches project teams in the building industry. His daily huddle template consists of three questions:
- Am I on track with my commitments for the day?
- If not, what adjustments am I making? What help do I need?
- Where do I see an opportunity to improve how we are working together?
All of the template’s questions focus on immediate work—the place where Richert sees the most value. By targeting the day’s activities, you can make your team more flexible, Richert believes. “That narrow focus allows team members to react to deviations from the plan quickly,” he says. To pivot quickly, you also need to incorporate your daily huddles into a larger plan.
Daily Huddles and Weekly Commitment Plans
Richert uses his daily huddle as one essential component in a larger weekly commitment plan—much like the scrum and sprint relationship in Agile methodology. Every team member has a list of tasks they’re responsible for during the week. The commitment plan acts as a map that helps coordinate intra-team collaboration. Richert explains how daily huddles work with weekly commitment plans:
“My team is expected to start work on Thursday, which requires Susan’s team’s work to be completed Wednesday. In Wednesday’s daily huddle, Susan tells me she will need another two hours on Thursday to complete her team’s task [What adjustments am I making?]. Now I know I need to make alternate arrangements for those first two hours on Thursday. Susan and I then also address how we will mitigate the impact of this deviation from the weekly plan [How can we improve how we work together?] so that by the end of the week all teams are back to the original plan.”
Daily Huddle Template #3
Piyush Patel is an entrepreneur, corporate culture expert, and author. He promotes a daily huddle format that focuses on the power of positive affirmations to create team connections. In his book Lead Your Tribe, Love Your Work, Patel states, “As a business owner, your challenge is to figure out how to help your tribe feel like they’re part of a cohesive team.” Patel found the solution, in part, with a daily huddle structure he calls “The 3 Happies”. He explains the process:
“Every morning … each team of five to eight people would take a few minutes to jot down three things that made them happy in the last 24 hours. Two had to be work-related; the third had to be personal. Each person would then read them out loud.”
- Work Happy #1
- Work Happy #2
- Personal Happy
Team members write their 3 Happies on Post-It notes. After the daily huddle, every team member sticks their notes on the wall for everyone else in the company to see.
Daily Huddles and Company Values
Business owners like Patel value what daily huddles can bring to company culture, in addition to their functional benefits. They’re an opportunity for team members to identify sources of personal happiness and for companies to reinforce their commitment to employee well-being.
“The 3 Happies also provided daily affirmation,” Patel says. “Every day, each person would self-affirm exactly the things they wanted to be affirmed. Those few minutes every day, no matter what was discussed, spoke volumes to everyone. It said that their happiness was important to us. We wanted to hear about it.”
Daily Huddle Dos and Don’ts
Daily huddles are unique meetings, given their condensed format and intense focus. Here are some helpful tips that can apply to any daily huddle template you adopt.
Attendance Makes Huddles Work
For any daily huddle meeting, the overall goal is to inform and connect the entire group—whether that’s informing everyone about a critical delivery or sharing personal stories. If half your team is consistently absent, it’s likely you’re not meeting your team goals.
On the other hand, chronic absenteeism often signals boring meetings. Take an informal poll or simply ask the team about meeting quality. “Are you getting enough from these meetings?”, “Are they boring?”, “What could be changed?”—basically, have a quick huddle about your huddle. If feedback is negative, spice things up with an icebreaker question. Start meetings with a song. Rotate who runs the meeting. Shake things up a bit and watch interest and attendance grow.
Don’t Tackle Big Issues
Most daily huddles should last around 15 minutes – not enough time to discuss major company issues. Manage the meeting’s scope and guard it strictly. Also, watch for carryover topics from prior days. Team members bent on being heard may try and cover a big issue over several days in an attempt to address it piecemeal. The result is the same: wasted time.
Instead, take members aside and suggest an ad hoc meeting directly following to deal with the problem. Always guard the need for brevity and condensed focus of your daily huddles. Reinforce it with continual reminders: “I love that these meetings are so short. We get so much done!”.
Eliminate the Negative
Negativity is a daily huddle killer. No one wants to focus on what’s going wrong, especially every day. Daily huddles should set the tone for the day. Even if they’re devoid of entertainment, they should inspire and build connections.
Don’t use daily huddles to work out “issues” with individual team members. That’s a quick trip to Downerville. Keep an eye and ear on what’s being discussed. If things get too personal, shut it down, suggest a one-on-one, and pivot to a more collaborative activity. Huddles are a time to reinforce unity, not gang up on one member.
The more complex a meeting’s agenda the more stress and confusion it creates. The simple format of the daily huddle makes it an ideal way to achieve your team goals in a short time. But the best feature of the daily huddle is its adaptability to the needs of any team. The templates above can serve as jumping-off points for creating your own. Tailor them based on your company’s goals.