Communication, Engagement

What is a pre-shift team huddle? (+ 5 reasons your frontline needs them)

Posted on: December 19, 2023Updated on: January 16, 2024By: Anita Chauhan

Looking to strengthen your team connection? Help communication flow? Keep customer experience top of mind? The answer is simple: pre-shift team huddles.

5 Reasons Your Frontline Needs Pre Shift Team Huddles

From hospitality to retail, so many industries can benefit from implementing this practice into their day-to-day workflows. After all, they’ve been proven time and time again to be a habit of high-performing teams. Morning huddle meetings can help your team stay well-informed about your organization’s goings-on and keep focused. 

Here’s a quick explainer on team huddles—plus five reasons pre-shift huddles are a must for any frontline organization, and some best practices to get you started. 

What is a team huddle? 

Also known as pre-shift meetings, daily standups or lineups, team huddles are a chance for teams to quickly connect. The manager on duty can go through recent updates, review goals or hurdles and engage staff for their upcoming shift. It should rarely last longer than five minutes.

Team huddles are more than just a staff meeting. They’re a place for consistent, regular discussion in which employees at all levels communicate, share and address key performance indicators and areas of improvement. The purpose is to provide an open channel where your team members can safely share any questions or concerns they may have.

Benefits of daily huddles

Huddles are particularly valuable in uncertain times (we see you, global pandemic) or periods of rapid change at an organization, such as during an expansion. But even during “normal” times, every organization can benefit from these bite-sized meetings, every day. Here are a few benefits of daily huddle meetings: 

Team huddles boost team-building and employee engagement

Even if they’re small, teams can become siloed very quickly. The simplest explanation? People aren’t talking to one another. An obvious benefit of a regular touchpoint in the form of a morning huddle can be simple open communication. This leads to a place where employees grow to trust one another. At pre-shift team huddles, they can give and receive help as they need and can be empowered to work together, rather than separately. 

Pre-shift team huddles are an especially excellent mechanism for team-building between front of house and back of house staff in the hospitality industry. And that time dedicated to building relationships between various staff functions can extend to your brand and customer experience. 

There’s also an employee advocacy play here, too. Employees who feel confident that they have the basics to reach their full potential (things like a safe workplace, fair pay and the tools to do the job) can become staunch advocates of the brand and company they work for. 

Ultimately, daily team huddles lead to engaged, empowered employees ready to collaborate and contribute—and that high employee engagement leads to better retention, CX, sales and myriad other benefits

Team huddles allow you to get proactive vs. reactive on employee feedback

We all know that better team communication goes a long way. Unfortunately, nearly two-thirds of managers are ill-equipped to have tough, necessary conversations. Effective team huddles can be instrumental in giving teams the space to identify and highlight the issues that require the attention of other levels of the organization.

It’s also the perfect place to foster a sense of safety, share best practices and allow for upward feedback. Say, for example, that a team member mentions a policy they believe needs to be changed. If their colleagues also share the same issue, managers can easily take that feedback and facilitate the necessary changes.

According to LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends Report 2020, it’s crucial that employers tap into and act upon employee feedback. By doing this, you are not only engaging your employees but involving them in decision-making. When given the space to share, employees can also help increase your organization’s competitive edge. Retail fashion giant Zara, for example, relies on its frontline staff to share feedback and insights around customer requests, trends and new style ideas by noticing what customers wear or are looking for as they shop. 

When employees believe they are heard and can contribute upward feedback, they can bring that happiness and ease to their work. You may see it shine through in their effectiveness and their interactions with customers and peers. 

Team huddles increase efficiency and consistency in task execution

When employees don’t have a good line of sight into what everyone is working on, there is a danger of duplicating tasks. This is inefficient—and can be significantly negative for your brand if it involves your customers. Pre-shift team huddles allow you to quickly and efficiently create systems that help your business flow better. Taking the time each day, even for five minutes, to go over priorities and goals drives consistency and task execution and can increase team cohesion and efficiency.

Team huddles are an opportunity to seamlessly build new behaviors that push your team to excel. When you pair modern training tactics and scaled communication with in-person huddles, you’re ensuring that every employee understands standard procedures and processes in a deeper way. 

Daily huddle time also gives team leaders a chance to act and mobilize their staff to make adjustments that improve both the customer and employee experience. By quickly sharing bottlenecks or identifying blockers with the team gets more employees focused on a problem so that it can be solved in real-time. 

Team huddles keep you aligned on company goals

Goals and KPIs are the best way to tell you if you’re on target, and let you course-correct to get back on track. And your daily pre-shift huddle is an ideal place for reviewing metric updates, short-term priorities and overall company goals. 

Giving your team members a quick face-to-face before jumping into work keeps everyone aligned and on task. According to Inc., effective team huddles “keep companies focused on the same strategic goals, ensure timely answers solutions to important questions and strengthen team accountability because everyone knows what everyone else is up to.” 

In a frontline organization, managers can use huddles to align their teams on priorities and drive performance in a fun way by tying your employees’ successes back to the company’s values and goals. Employers can even use gamification as an effective strategy for engaging frontline staff. With the right enablement platform (guess which one is our favorite?) organizations can set up friendly competitions, track milestones and reward staff for their hard work. After all, providing employees with achievable goals and incentives has been closely linked to improving your bottom line and driving productivity. 

Team huddles give each team member a voice

Helping your employees feel valued is paramount, and you can drive that sense of value by ensuring they feel seen and heard. It can be hard for organizations and managers to find ways to give each and every team member a voice—especially in an organization of hundreds of employees. That’s where pre-shift team huddles come in. 

Huddles can be the optimal time to share news, recognize employees and highlight wins. A win could be anything: someone going several consecutive days (or months) without an accident, a team achieving a sales target, or even an employee’s personal win. That recognition of good work can go a long way toward giving team members—even in large organizations—a voice. 

A key piece of this is ensuring it’s your employees speaking up—not just your managers recognizing good work. Finding engaging ways to allow your employees to share updates or announce changes themselves during the huddle can be helpful. Giving them space to share and celebrate, professionally and personally, can make all the difference. For example, employees at many Enterprise Rent-A-Car locations vote on who delivered the best service during the past week, helping increase connection and add a spirit of friendly competition to their workdays. 

Daily team huddle best practices

We’ve got a whole article on optimizing pre-shift team huddles from the experts in effective team meetings. But here’s a quick overview of the best practices to keep in mind: 

Have an agenda: Plan what you’ll cover in a daily huddle agenda to keep the huddle on track focused on what needs to be covered. 

Keep it short: Keep it sustainable with a strict 15-minute time limit (even shorter is better—5 minutes is the sweet spot).

Be consistent: Encourage your managers to stick to the routine, every single day. It gives staff space to ask questions and get engaged. 

Make it mandatory—or share the information asynchronously: If staff can’t attend, be sure to share the relevant information in your enablement or communication platform so everyone has access to the crucial information being shared. 

Teaching your team good client experience and company culture doesn’t end at the onboarding stage. Having a pre-shift huddle can help your managers balance functional issues and company purpose effortlessly. What may seem like a small act for your team could make a world of difference for your company and brand. 

Anita Chauhan

Anita Chauhan is a freelance writer specializing in marketing, creating diverse and equitable workplaces, management, healthcare, AI and fintech.

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