By Steven Knight, creator of solutions and opportunities at Mosaic Home Services Ltd. — building Canada’s largest home improvement franchise network.
From 8:30 a.m. until 8:45 a.m., my entire organization experiences its most profitable 15 minutes of the day: daily huddle. Each morning the entire sales, operations and administrative teams have a standing meeting, in person, to give updates on their upcoming day and resolve any challenges they need help with.
A habit of John D. Rockefeller, as told through Verne Harnish’s iconic Mastering the Rockefeller Habits, morning huddle is one of the “key tools for handling the barriers that come with growth and keeping the company aligned.”
Mastering the morning huddle wasn’t easy for my team and me. When I first heard the concept, the mathematical side of my brain began to turn: 15 minutes a day, 1.25 hours per week, times 15 staff, times an average hourly wage…what do we need this extra expense for?!
Our journey of implementing a proper and efficient morning huddle took time, iteration and uncomfortable conversations. Shortly after starting, I had a lineup of team members waiting to speak to me right after huddle about problem A or customer B or approval C. It was exhausting, and soon I found myself not even getting my own day started until 9:30. But after a week of the same routine, I realized two things:
1. I’ve become the bottleneck in my business. Everyone comes to me with everything because I haven’t empowered them to make their own decisions. I can’t grow this way.
2. My A players are solving their own problems and telling me about their results. My B players are using the bottleneck as an excuse to underperform.
Would I have realized these things without implementing a morning huddle? Probably. Would I have discovered them as quickly? Absolutely not.
After a few months of conversations and tweaking, I found myself getting all of the information that I required from my team in 15 minutes or less per day. Even better, none of them needed me after a huddle — they needed to talk to one another about problem A, customer B or approval C. I found myself enjoying the 15 most efficient minutes of the day, seeing the team come together and resolve smoldering customer issues before they became wildfires. It wasn’t all rosy, though.
One of the constant challenges with morning huddle was the section on key performance indicators (KPIs), which challenges every person to give an update on their numerical performance on a daily basis. While this sounds like an accountant’s dream, it’s oftentimes the human resources person’s worst nightmare. I can’t count the number of times that KPI updates, or the lack thereof, have led to follow-up conversations with team members about the topic. This is especially common for new hires, who may have never heard of KPIs and are slightly terrified about telling the team of a perceived failure.
We report KPIs daily for two key reasons:
1. To celebrate success.
2. To quickly identify issues.
For example, if accounting needs to collect $100,000 per week in past-due accounts, and on Thursday they’ve only collected $22,000, there’s a big problem. But the team and I are finding out about it on Thursday, not Monday morning. This gives us 16 working hours to devote more resources to helping the collections team make more phone calls. It gives 16 hours for the leader of that team to find out why collections are low: Is the team overworked? Is there a project in the way? Did the customer who promised to pay break that promise? Do we need to call the lawyer? All of the sudden, the team knows there’s a problem and they’re figuring out solutions. They’re not pointing at Brenda saying, “Wow, she messed up again.” They’re coming to Brenda saying, “How can I be part of the solution?”
Our process for delivering morning huddle updates has changed multiple times — like all things in business, it had to adapt to remain relevant as we grew. It will continue to grow and adapt as we do, but it will always be a part of our culture. Those 15 minutes save me hours every day — it’s the best expense I could have ever incurred. My advice to any entrepreneur finding themselves strapped for time or bogged down in their own team? Just try it.
Our process is:
8:30 a.m. — 8:45 a.m. every morning, each person gives the following update, person by person:
What’s Up: News from yesterday or today that’s relevant to the group. What’s the headline of your own personal newspaper?
Top Tasks: What are the three most important things you need to accomplish today? (Only three. If everything is important, nothing is important. What are the top three?)
KPI: Based on your quarterly priorities, what are your KPIs for the week, and what is your progress?
Stuck: Where are you stuck, and who can help you? Is there something you need or someone you need to talk to?
Grateful: What’s one thing you’re grateful for today? Start the day in a positive direction.
Top Priority Today: End with an affirmative statement: “Today I will…”
Huddle lasts 15 minutes maximum. Any update requiring more than 60 seconds needs to be discussed after the team has broken up for the day.