One of the first improvements I suggest for organizations is a daily huddle, if they do not currently have one in place.
What is a daily huddle?
It is a daily stand-up meeting for members of a team, typically in a workplace setting, lasting between 5-15 minutes in length. Typically it is held at the beginning of the work day. It is a method to communicate and measure progress of a team’s work plan. They allow members to be proactive in identifying and resolving potential and actual problems, and make adjustments in order to meet goals and performance metrics. They also allow the team to review accomplishments from the previous day and to set expectations for the upcoming day.
The huddles can:
- Help deliver customer value through proper support and servant leadership to those who are closest to the process (workers)
- Provide a regular cadence to communicate what’s going on to workers
- Provide a structure to escalate problems quickly to leadership within hours, not days (tiered huddles)
- Provide a structured opportunity for gathering improvement ideas and building support and involvement from the process experts to engage them in taking ownership of process and their work
- Give insights and consistent feedback to workers on how they’re doing on daily and hourly performance to help achieve key weekly and monthly business goals and metrics
- Share updates on projects, initiatives, safety/quality alerts and corrective actions
- Help shift from firefighting (reactive) to more stable work (proactive)
- Celebrate wins, good behaviors and communicate learnings from other departments and facilities
- Build teamwork, skill development and collaboration between workers and support staff
Watch the video below to see how quickly and efficiently information can be conveyed and plans adjusted to reflect reality in this healthcare setting.
The following questions were asked of employees at one of my clients, comparing the time period before the Daily Huddle meetings started (end of 2021), and their current perspective since the huddles began in March 2022.
- My colleagues share information and knowledge with each other.
- I feel that I am part of a team that cares about each other.
- Where I work my opinions and ideas matter.
- Where I work, there is good teamwork and co-operation between departments.
- I have the information I need to do my job well.
- My manager recognizes my efforts and results.
- I have appropriate influence and decision-making authority in my job.
There were only 7 employees at this facility that worked there in late 2021, so that could have made it difficult to show statistical significance in the survey.
Here are the results. The survey was provided to employees in-person, one side of the sheet was asking for their current scores, and the back side of the sheet asked about their scores as they remember back in 2021. The questions were identical, the only difference was the time frame.
Ideally, we would have had the employees fill out the survey in Dec 2021, then repeat it again in March 2022, but this was the next best thing since we couldn’t go backwards in time.
The 5 choices the employee could select for each question were as follows:
- Strongly Disagree = 0%
- Slightly Disagree = 25%
- Neutral = 50%
- Slightly Agree = 75%
- Strongly Agree = 100%
For example, for the 1st question listed below, the average response was 57.1% (close to neutral) in late 2021, but 92.9% (close to Strongly Agree) in March 2022 across all employees.
Based on the results, the largest improvement in scores were the following questions (data in table sorted from largest to smallest)
- My colleagues share information and knowledge with each other. (57 to 93%)
- I feel that I am part of a team that cares about each other. (64 to 89%)
Both questions saw an increase in over 25 percentage points. All questions showed a positive improvement, but the last question received nearly identical results, so the improvement would not have been statistically valid.
To validate the difference in scores, I conducted a Paired T-Test comparing every question and employee score to their score in late 2021. With 7 questions and 7 employees, that created 49 different comparisons of 2021 to 2022 data.
The Paired T-test is an excellent analysis technique for removing the variation in survey questions and variation in employees, to measure the true difference that each employee felt before the addition of the daily huddle within each question.
Although the data is not continuous, the difference in scores does not greatly differ from a normal distribution, so I was able to assume normality, which is one of the assumption for the Paired T-test.
The results show an average difference in scores of 16.33% improvement. Looking at the most likely result of the average difference in scores, the true average is between 9.37% and 23.29%.
The P-value concludes that there is a statistical improvement in scores for these questions across all 7 employees, likely around 16 percentage points.
Therefore, we can conclude that implementing the daily huddles is a likely contributor (causal relationship) to increased communication and engagement felt by the employees. However, we can’t prove that for sure, since it is not a designed experiment and we did not control for all other factors (management change, recent equipment upgrades, etc).
These survey results were shared with the other facilities at my client, and helped convince their management to establish daily huddles as a best practice. We could have just told management that daily huddles are a good thing, and to take our advice, but its always better to have some objective data to back it up.
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