The "Morning Huddle"

The other day, I wrote quite extensively about the importance of PM communications in building alignment and effecting change. Here’s a little ditty to drive home the point.

Yesterday, my wife asked me to run an errand and pick up a few items from the local “Target” (which she mockingly pronounces Tar-jey out of respect for my beautiful French heritage!). I needed to get in and out quickly, so I waited by the door and entered at 7:30 sharp, just as soon as the doors opened. As I walked briskly toward the dairy section, I heard an interesting announcement over the loudspeaker: “Would all Target staff report to register 8 for the ‘morning huddle'”.

I got my stuff and headed toward checkout (register 8, of course), and found myself surrounded (quite literally) by about 50 people, with enthused expressions on their face, awaiting this “huddle thing”. The woman at register 8 checked me out and quickly rejoined the group, trying not to miss much. It piqued my interest, so I decided to eavesdrop a bit.

What amazed me was not the concept of the daily meeting- most every manager that’s worth his salt does something similar to this. No- what was unique was the content and style of the meeting. Here’s a brief summary of what I observed:

– a brief and focused rundown of what I suspect were Target’s Targets (Sorry for such a bad pun!)– a highly focused set of performance indicators that appeared to align with what was important to their store’s short to mid term success- weekend sales, product turnover goals for specific inventory items, signup goal for one of their store credit cards, results of a recent CSAT snapshot- things like that.

– reports for each indicator were presented by different staff members– many were obviously “bought into”, and directly involved in the management of these goals

– It was quick and painless– everyone standing- it didn’t drag on. Not a lot of discussion of what worked and didn’t (with the exception of a few important items from the front line), but rather a quick “here’s where we are NOW and what we need to do going forward (SHORT TERM)”.They kept the analysis and detailed discussion for later, probably off line. This was a communications meeting, but with the involvement of many.

– The focus stayed on the customer– never for one minute (even though I was a bit “engulfed” by this attentive group) was I “left hanging” during the checkout process. Nearly everyone smiled, said good morning,…then resumed their attention to the team leader. Two or three of them were ready to man whichever register I decided to walk toward.

-The environment was very “open book“. This wasn’t a closed door session or a set of “confidential management-only reports”. In stark contrast, this was done right there out in the open, by the front registers, which I concluded was very deliberate.

-The communication was undoubtedly continuous. This was a daily exercise…part of their routine. As a result, I bet very few breakdowns have time to fester given the apparent frequency of these meetings and reports.

Those are just a few of my observations. Skeptics would say “we do that too”, or that this was probably just part of their “honeymoon period”. Maybe so. But there are enough differences between what I observed here, and what I see playing out day by day inside the organizations with whom I work. Enough so, that I was compelled to watch, listen, and identify some of the differences.Food for thought. Take what you like and leave the rest.

Oh yeah- and Eat Your Heart Out COSTCO !!!

-b

Author: Bob Champagne is Managing Partner of onVector Consulting Group, a privately held international management consulting organization specializing in the design and deployment of Performance Management tools, systems, and solutions. Bob has over 25 years of Performance Management experience and has consulted with hundreds of companies across numerous industries and geographies. Bob can be contacted at bob.champagne@onvectorconsulting.com


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