Most times of the year in Michigan - huddling up is usually a means of staying warm. In a business setting however, that might pose an HR issue so huddle up, but not in the traditional sense. Using a daily face to face huddle can be an effective way to stay in contact with your team, monitor progress, call and analyze plays, and keep the ball moving forward, Huddles can be 10 minutes or 30 minutes, the point is to keep them brief, but meaningful.
The huddle should be more than just task management, it should also be an opportunity to brainstorm, reward, and collaborate. They need not be limited to your own immediate team either. I've used a combination of weekly, bi-weekly, even monthly huddles with executives and other directors to keep a finger on the pulse of the rest of the organization and their priorities.
Have some fun with your huddles - give them code names, have everyone stand up instead of sitting down, go outside (weather permitting of course), have guests join from time to time - mix it up. One of my peers and I called our weekly huddles our PIAG (poop in a group). Agendas are optional, but when you are first starting it may be helpful to build a brief simple agenda until the rest of the huddlers get the rhythm.
5 tips for effective huddles:
I was reviewing some materials in preparation for an upcoming appointment and ran across this short gem on leadership that was written with some collaboration from CEO, Larry Andrus back in 2010. I think it still has a meaningful message, please let me know if you agree:
Leadership – Creating an environment for developing optimal performers (September 2010)
We have long supported the idea that if your employees are not performing it is probably the leadership that is not performing. In order to get the best out of your team you need to be sure you are providing the right environment for them to develop in.
Assuming we have provided our employees the right environment, we have found that there are six characteristics of optimal performers:
1. They are able to transcend their previous levels of accomplishment
2. They avoid a comfort zone, that no-man’s land that feels too much at home
3. They do what they do for the art of it and are guided by compelling, internal goals
4. They solve problems rather than place blame
5. They confidently take risks after laying out the worst consequences beforehand
6. They are able to rehearse coming actions or events mentally
When evaluating your team, review them against this list and then ask yourself:
1. Who are the most likely to be optimal performers?
2. Do I have my performers aligned with their talents – i.e. “Are the right people in the right seats on the bus?"
3. Am I, and my leadership team, creating an environment for these performers to flourish and excel?
What does that environment look like? Certainly it may vary by company and industry to a certain extent; however, there are several commonalities. There are many methods to research this topic - one of our favorites: ask your employees! Three simple questions can go a long way when it comes to determining what your employees feel would help them to succeed and thus the company:
1. What are we doing well?
2. What could we be doing better? and...
3. If you were CEO what might you do differently?
Recently we worked with a company where the leadership of the organization wanted to control all decisions and none of the employees were empowered to make a decision without running it by the CEO first. The consequence of course was that no one really wanted to take a risk for fear of being rejected by the leadership. Staff members were hesitant to look forward or innovate because all of that was either discouraged or basically done for them. Needless to say, they had fallen behind in many respects in their technology and perhaps in the desire of their teams to transcend their current state. The right environment was clearly absent.
Here is a great idea from the folks at Content Marketing - who compiled this from Kelly Services. Take one topic and share it up 20 ways! To help get you started here are twenty ideas for placement for each topic you might consider:
If you like this content - Tweet this by clicking here:
Content Idea #3: Take every story idea and produce 20+ pieces of content via @toddwheatland @JoePulizzi
Life happens. Sometimes it happens at breakneck speeds. This week was one of 'those' weeks. The kind that blurs by you and you reflect at the end of it and wonder, "How did all of THAT fit into one tiny week?" I won't go into all the details, yet suffice it to say that Evernote and Outlook are this girl's BFFs! Let's jump into the lesson, shall we?
Lesson of the week:
1. Think like a boy scout: Be prepared. One of my dear friends and colleagues suggests that you work ahead two days. Most people get a chuckle out of that and then say, "yeah right?" He goes on to say that each of your activities falls within one of four categories: Urgent and Important, Urgent not as Important, Important not as Urgent, and Not Important Not Urgent. A reasonable way to look at things for the most part. What is missing here, in my opinion, is the OTHER person's categorization. I like to use the concepts of the Johari window to understand that often, what you know and understand as public knowledge, may in fact be a blind spot.
In our hurried block and tackle lives, there are a lot of missed opportunities to drill into and make absolutely sure that all parties agree on the priority, deadline, expectations and critical success factors of any given activity. We rely on email to get the message across and act as a audit trail, yet miss the fact that the intended audience is likely not reading the message or skimming it on a 3"x 4" cell phone screen. How can we be so disconnected in our always connected world?
Back to the lesson. Knowing that there are multiple players and channels for communication means making a multi-tiered plan for all communications. Even - GASP - in person and on the phone. Make a check list in advance, here is one that I like:
If you have not personally answered each of these questions - you likely have created your own blind spot. There will be a question that needs to be answered that has not been thought of or asked - so keep asking. Being prepared means you know that there will be unanswered questions or gaps and trying to anticipate those to prevent an emergenc.y. Or in the words of Sir Robert Baden-Powell (founder of the boy scouts): “Be Prepared... the meaning of the motto is that a scout must prepare himself by previous thinking out and practicing how to act on any accident or emergency so that he is never taken by surprise.”
Don't let others create an emergency that takes you by surprise. Be Prepared.
Yes Virginia, there really is a Santa Claus. When Francis P. Church answered the letter he told a truth that challenged the intelligence of the intelligent, yet soothed the souls of every parent who is terrified by the same question. Perhaps my favorite line from the editorial is: "Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world." Francis P. Church, The New York Sun, 1897. The editorial was famous. It not only expounded on truth, love and even faith, but also helped the world to understand why Santa Claus was important. And that is the real truth and motivation. Believing in something is better than the alternative. And believing in something bigger than ourselves is a surefire way to engage and connect.
Just because you build the ball field, website, lemonade stand - you name it - doesn't mean THEY will come. GoogleAds are not the only way to get the word out, open for business does not mean the cash register sings with the jingle of cash. People, customers, want to share a value, belief or a great experience. Having an open for business sign with no plan for sharing the true meaning of what you do, sell, or make and WHY it is connection worthy - is just a bunch of letters on another sign and more noise vying for the attention of our over connected society. For a great example of brutal honesty, stand for something transparency...check out Peldi Guilizzoni , CEO, of Balsamiq Mockups. According to Jason Cohen in his Business Insider article, Guilizzoni is frighteningly honest and it paid off. Why? Because he had values and a vision. He also has a great product, but the product doesn't sell unless people know about it. Some of the greatest products in history went the way of the Dodo before anyone even knew they were available. The difference is in the passion, vision and values of the creator. All it takes is one person to ignite a movement, (pssst...pass it on). One becomes two, then two becomes four - well you know the rest of the story.
If you want to start something great - have a great story and an unshakable, unstoppable understanding of why you are doing it. Share it with like minded people who will share it with their value chain. The real key here is being honest. Honest about your goals, your values and what is really driving your passion for what ever you are doing. Honest passion is more contagious then H1N1 when it comes to word of mouth marketing.
Are you there to hear it? Are you listening? What do you hear?
You remember the saying: "One mouth, two ears," right? What does that mean for sales professionals and marketers? I think...I may be going out on a limb here...that it means we (sales/marketing pros) need to spend more time listening and more importantly, understanding our audiences.
In the world of B2B, IMHO, there is still too much show up and throw up, or as Sandler puts it...spilling your jelly beans in the lobby. Do you go to your doctor only for him to tell you what is wrong with you before a single question is asked? I think not! Yet, having spent half a lifetime with or in sales, I see it over and over ... "I hear you are looking for a Woozawhatzit, let me tell you all about ours and why we are better at selling it!" Classic 'FAB' (features, advantages, benefits) or the bizzaro version 'FUD' (fear, uncertainty, doubt) selling should be deadwood - but it seems they are not. Are sales and marketing professionals not supposed to seek first to understand before being understood?
As I reflect on my past 9 years of work, I am guilty of letting this behavior proliferate all around me. And guiltier still of advancing it, nurturing it with collateral and content demanded by the pitchfork bearing sales masses. "We need this content marketing ogre or we'll burn your village down." So we produced to save the village.
I may not have the answer, yet, but that may be because the right question hasn't been asked.
With a decade plus of experience as a brand ambassador and chief sloganista, I am fascinated with customers and their customers. Ever curious, I love to analyze data, talk to people and seek to know "Why?"