For Great Service, Start with Great Team Huddles

Communication (or lack thereof) is one of the most mentioned items in a majority of employee engagement surveys.  I’ll grant you that this is often the catch phrase of the disgruntled employee, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t true.

Taking the time to be sure that your teams are ready to deliver on the mission of great service and execution is sure to lead to happy Customers.  Most great Leaders with well-functioning teams will tell you that one of the keys to success is well planned and executed team huddles.  Running less than ten minutes, these meetings are normally held right before the doors open for the day or at key shift changes to bring everyone together for a quick rundown of the day.

When done well, these short meetings (and you must keep them short), can save you time and keep your team on mission for the entire shift.  Unfortunately, these meetings are often neglected or poorly executed, which doesn’t do anyone any favors.

Here are some tips to make your next pre-shift a success:

  1. Fight the “there isn’t time” Excuse: That is the battle cry of those who can’t be bothered. Unless you are fighting zombie apocalypse there is always time for pre-shift huddles. Bake them into the schedule just like conference calls, employee shifts, and opening duties. They are a part of opening. You wouldn’t open without a product or service to deliver, the doors unlocked, or the lights turned on – so why would you open before your team is revved up for a great day?
  2. Keep the Energy high: “So how is everybody doing this morning?” Hold it. Hold it. That’s terrible. That’s no way to start a pre-shift. This is a time to energize the staff, motivate them for a fantastic day ahead, and make sure they are all ready to smile and engage. Make great eye contact, smile at your team, and speak from the heart. Your high energy will be infectious.  The trick to being energetic is to be well prepared. If you want to be better at delivering pre-services, then practice.
  3. Stay Positive: No one wants to start the shift listening to a huge loser who’s bringing them down – so don’t. Highlight what went well during the last shift, and even spend some time on what didn’t go so well. Spin it toward all the amazing possibilities the day holds and how execution can be even better today. That doesn’t mean that yesterday was a train wreck, just that pushing for improvement gets everyone fired up! If you don’t take a positive approach with your team, how can you expect them to be positive with their Customers?
  4. Focus on Passion, Not Facts: Yes, you have to cover the nitty-gritty stuff – how are sales trending, what are the organization goals, are there specific targets on widgets for this shift; but that doesn’t mean it has to be boring and stuffy. Use this as a time to remind everyone that what you do is amazing and that your Customers are depending on you. Restaurants use this time to review the menu or talk about specials, but whatever you need to cover about your mission that pulls people by the gut will work well here.
  5. Recognize: Did someone absolutely deliver yesterday? Was there a stand out in the group with regard to safety or cleanliness? Did someone get a great comment from a Customer that you want to share with the team? This is a great place to throw in sincere recognition.
  6. Get Everyone Involved: Talk less and let your team talk more – now there’s a recipe for a great team huddle. Encourage folks to share, and work with them before the shift starts so they can really own it! Audience participation is a must or you are just a yammering bobble head barking out orders.
  7. Don’t Neglect Safety: Safety would normally be first, since nothing – absolutely nothing – trumps safety. But the hard reality is that if we don’t pay attention to the first six items, everyone will be asleep or drinking a big cup of “I couldn’t care less.” Be sure to highlight the greatest hits – hot buttons in your line of business and any talking points you might have from your Home Office. If you already have a culture of safety, folks should be jockeying to show off the great work in their particular areas.
  8. Begin Leading During the Huddle: Remind folks of the goal for the shift. How can you tweak your efficiencies; what are your financial goals; are there any new items to share with your customers. If you have areas where you are lagging call them out and discuss how you can utilize your cost-leaders to find savings. This is the perfect time to plant the seeds that will lead to epic service and cost controls.
  9. Don’t Skimp on the Customer Service: We should never practice on the Guest, so this is a great place to talk about removing hassles for your customers. It could be a time to role play or remind folks to smile and engage. Your team wants to do the right thing with Customers, but some need a reminder that they can be a game-changer during every interaction. This is also a fantastic place to remind folks to work clean, keep lines of site orderly, and attack the seating areas to keep them clean and orderly.
  10. Close Strong: Whether you have a catch phrase, love the high five, or enjoy a rally cry, don’t be a lame closer. Keep the energy up right until the end with your signature finish. Send them away hungry for a fantastic shift and amped up for success.

The most important thing to remember is not to neglect these valuable meetings. Create a form or sheet to help guide you at first and keep you organized. Don’t let them drag on and never find an excuse to cancel them. If you do them right, your team will be excited for the pre-shift huddle every day.

This kind of well managed communication can only benefit the Customer by ensuring that the entire team is in lock step and ready to serve.

Best wishes for fantastic meetings.  See you soon.

Tony Johnson
-Customer Service Leader-

@ServiceRecipe

About The Author

Tony Johnson

I’m a 22 year veteran of delivering terrific Guest experiences. I believe in putting the Customer at the center of what we do everyday. . .Let’s face it, if we take great care of our Guests, the rest just falls into place.