Bored senseless by that meeting (part 1)?

I recently had a chat with a business owner and we got to discussing the daily meeting (huddle). Like so many others, he was frustrated with the outcomes of the daily meeting and was considering dropping the whole thing. Here is how I helped him fix it (and how you can too) so you don’t pull a Linetti.

Set the meeting time so it requires conscious timeliness

Think about your typical meeting. It’s normally at the beginning of the hour or half-hour. Rarely is it at a fifteen-minute mark. It’s just simpler for us to do half-hour or hour blocks at normal, well rounded times (10 am, 2:30 pm, etc).

What I trialled three months ago in my own company is putting the daily team meeting at a really odd, hard to miss time. For us, it was 10:07 am for 15 minutes max e.g. 10:07 to 10:22. I always get an eyebrow raise when I share this practice. But guess what?

Our punctuality, months later, is still at nearly 100%.

This is because it requires conscious effort and activity to ensure you arrive on time for a 10:07 meeting start. It also means everyone else tends to be on time and notices if anyone is missing (often hurrying to move those people along too). It also says to people that we value their time and are only keeping it to EXACTLY the amount of time our team needs.

Stand

DO NOT have a sit-down meeting. Sitting down slows the pace of the meeting, makes it more formal and leads to banter. The daily stand-up meeting is about actions and outcomes, not time for a yarn.

If you want the meeting to be action-focused and time-boxed, keep people on their feet.

Everyone can stand for 15 minutes.

Ask the right questions

We have three specific questions everyone has to answer in our daily meeting. They are:

What’s up today? — each attendee spends no more than 30 seconds sharing very specifically what’s up for them in the next 24 hours. These should ONLY be about key projects, decisions, milestones, etc. This isn’t a to-do list of random time-fillers. It’s about action.

What are the daily metrics I am affecting today? — The next question everyone needs to answer is about the key metrics they are helping affect in the business TODAY e.g. cash-flow, engagement scores, etc. If staff aren’t affecting a metric, then what are they doing the work in service of? Look for patterns and trends across the meeting that point to some action required to progress metrics that are stuck.

Where are you stuck? — The last question everyone must answer is critical. Identifying where the team and its members are stuck or constrained is fundamental to ensuring progress against goals and metrics (and it supports a healthy culture). The team has to be 100% honest and leaders have to be willing to help clear barriers and help people get unstuck.

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