Do you attend your teams’ daily start-of-shift meetings? Are you getting good value for the time and money your folks’ spend there each day? Whether you call it a tailgate meeting, toolbox talk, daily stand-up or team huddle — the goal is the same: share information, set the plan for the day and ensure everyone is ready for work. When done well, these meetings are efficient, engaging and energizing. They ensure communication from the top, raise concerns from the frontlines and get everyone on the same page as the day begins. When done poorly, these meetings are dull, disengaging and demoralizing. Memos are read aloud, the same old safety moment is repeated yet again and everyone stands with arms crossed and eyes glazed waiting for this check-the-box exercise to be over. Your daily start-of-shift meetings are a “ritual” — they communicate what matters to and is expected by your organization. With just a bit of attention and effort, they can be the cornerstone of your employee engagement, culture change and performance improvement efforts.
Assessing your daily meetingsAre your daily meetings sending the message you want your employees to hear? Here are four steps you can start today to make sure: Step 1: Get your fellow leaders on-board. Although you can do this alone, it’ll work better if you do it with a group. Gather the people who manage the folks who lead your daily meetings. If foremen lead daily meetings, then gather up the General Foremen or Superintendents. The assignment for these folks: observe every daily meeting at least once; speak to every person who leads a daily meeting; report back ready to discuss what you saw and heard. Don’t go to the meetings as a group – that’ll cause too much upset. Instead, work alone or in pairs. Agree to a timeframe: we will reconvene on such-and-such date having observed every team at least once. Step 2: Observe the meetings. Arrive early. Greet the foreman leading the meeting and explain that you’re just sitting in. If at all possible, don’t draw attention to yourself. As the meeting gets going, pay attention to the following:
- How does the meeting start and end? Does it start and end on time? What are the first and last topics discussed?
- Who does most of the talking? Can everyone hear? Is there participation or interaction during the meeting?
- What’s the mood or energy like during the meeting? Are folks ‘present’ or are they sitting back waiting for the meeting to be over. Are they energized and engaged?
- What are the key messages delivered during the meeting? Is the message clear and concise, or muddled and confused?
- If this meeting was your only experience of this organization, what conclusions would you draw about how this organization does business?
- How’d that meeting go for you? Better, worse, or about the same as usual?
- What’s your goal or intention for your daily meetings?
- How do you prepare for the meeting?
- What were the best tailgate meetings you’ve seen during your career?What made them so good?
- What can I or the other bosses do to help you make these meetings go better?
- What stood out? Any surprises – good or bad?
- What’s the messageour meetings are sending – not just what gets said but how it gets said?
- Who were the ‘bright spots’? Which foremen (or meeting leaders) stood out as better than the rest? What did they dothat the other meeting leaders didn’t? (Note: focus on the actions the best performers take, and not on their personal qualities!)
- What do we, as leaders, want to do to improve these meetings? (See our article on Leading Effective Start of Shift Meetings for ideas.)