The psychological benefits of huddling
Team leaders have accepted the role of moving their team to achieve results that coincide with the points of the Value Compass and support the region's business goals. An essential skill in leading a team is effectively running team meetings and huddles.
Teams thrive during meetings when the agenda is well planned, the meeting is facilitated to best use the allotted time, notes are kept accurately and agreements with action items are spelled out clearly.
Everyone benefits when team leaders plan meetings considering the following:
- Purpose: Is the purpose for sharing information or solving problems?
- Desired outcomes: What are the concrete and realistic meeting outcomes?
- Stakeholders: Who is affected by the potential outcome of this meeting? Is there a win-win situation?
- Agenda topics: Does the agenda accomplish the desired outcomes and encourage commitment and involvement?
- Attendees and roles: Who will attend the meeting and who will perform the key roles of the meeting, such as facilitator or scribe?
- Facilitator: Provides neutral facilitation of partnership processes, as needed. Helps team become self-sufficient in applying partnership tools and processes.
- Scribe: Creates a record of the meeting. Writes down team members' ideas using their words. Remains neutral and does not participate in content. Not a decision maker.
- Room arrangements: How can you best set up the meeting space for maximum participation and attention?
- Decision making: How much involvement will there be in making decisions, and are participants trained in the process to be used?
Huddles are briefer than meetings, usually lasting no longer than 10 to15 minutes. To huddle effectively, the team needs an environment in which members feel free to air their concerns, share information and articulate potential solutions to problems. Huddles also contribute to better performance and improve the effectiveness of longer meetings by:
- Offering frequent opportunities for teams to share ideas and solutions when the stakes are low;
- Allowing team members to improve their communications skills;
- Improving team members' familiarity with each other and their ability to work together.
"The more we know each other and...(have) exchanged our thinking, the more we've just connected as human beings – the better we do," says Amy Edmonson, a Harvard Business School professor whose research examines what workplace characteristics support superior performance in health care settings. "If we're friends, I will make that extra little cognitive effort to think, 'Oh, I wonder why she thinks it's that way.' Or, 'I wonder why she sees it that way?'"
Even teams not working in the same location can huddle frequently with phone calls or computer chats.
Like meetings, huddles benefit from clear purpose, direction, engagement and leadership. But huddles cannot replace meetings, which are necessary for planning, addressing more substantial and high-risk challenges, reviewing metrics and providing the training and education necessary to improve the team members' critical thinking skills.