A team huddle is a short stand-up meeting where store managers share goals and their plans of action for the day with staff beginning their shift. Team huddles are short, focused, and aligned with the goals you’ve set for your retail store.
But there are plenty of ways to run a team huddle that successfully motivates staff and helps your store get closer to its objectives. That’s why we spoke with merchants and founders to learn how they host team huddles, what topics they cover, and what their objectives are. Here’s what they had share:
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What is a team huddle?
A team huddle is a short meeting where retail staff “huddle” together to discuss something related to your retail store—such as new products, daily priorities, or special events. They’re usually 15 to 20 minutes long. That’s the natural drop-off point for our attention spans.
We can see shift huddles in practice with brick-and-mortar stores using a rotating shift schedule. When one shift clocks out and another checks in, team leaders will have a 10-minute huddle to hand over roles and responsibilities, assign staff to certain departments, and communicate the sales goals they’ve set.
They’ll get together and discuss what tasks still need to be completed, status updates of ongoing tasks, and make sure the shift changes are smooth.
Checkout our Retail Management Intern Lernik leading her first team huddle. We love to see the #mentorship taking place in Region 65! #MightyDivision9 #CVSHeartAtWork #LeadershipMatters #CVSIntern pic.twitter.com/atugHL38Th— Efrain Madera (@efrain_madera) June 29, 2020
What should you cover in a shift huddle?
Now that you know how team huddles work, you might be questioning what you should cover in one. After all, if you’re asking for 15 minutes of your team’s time every day, it’s crucial that those meetings are as productive as possible.
Let’s take a look at what you can cover in a team huddle:
- Calling attention to new products you’re carrying.
- Communicating new policies or procedures.
- Telling store associates which "zone" they would be working in.
- Addressing inventory shrinkage. For example, telling store associates to be mindful of shoplifters trying to steam a product that’s in high demand.
- Setting goals and explaining top priorities. Call out store sales goals for the day, or ask store associates what their goals for the day are.
- Establishing clear upsell or cross-sell objectives for the day. For example, asking that each sales associate aims for a certain average order value or items per order.
- Metrics catch ups. Periodically meet store associates on the sales floor to tell them how much they've sold during their shift, their units per transaction, etc.
📌 PRO TIP: To quickly view your staff’s daily productivity in Shopify POS, select Analytics from the Home menu and click Staff report. From here, you can see each staff’s average order value, items per order, gross and net sales, and more.
Flourish Market’s retail store hosts 20-minute team huddles each week. Its owner and founder, Emily Grey, explains: “In our team huddle, we start with a quick whip-around I call ‘Wins of the Week’. During this activity, everyone from the team shares and celebrates a 15- to 30-second update on a win they had in the last two weeks that helped deliver on our business mission.”
Next, two people from our team deliver an update on the project or initiative they are working on. This process of presenting helps our team members feel ownership over and empowered by their projects, which is a core value of our mission. We finish up with a quick Q&A to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Types of huddle meetings
The frequency of your shift stand up can depend on a variety of factors—especially the topics you plan to cover. Here are three main types of huddle team meetings.
A daily huddle does what the name suggests. At a certain point during the working day (typically before the store opens or prior to their shift starts), employees and the store manager get together for a stand-up meeting. Most retailers use quick daily huddles because they’re quick, effective, and keep store associates aligned with the store’s goals and to-do list.
Let’s put that into practice and say your brick-and-mortar store is open from 9 a.m. every day. You ask your retail associates to get to work by 8:30 a.m. for your daily team huddle. There, you explain the tasks that need completing that day, the total sales you’d like to hit, as well as other goals you may have.
Not all team huddles have to be frequent. You can host a huddle once per week, like jewelry retailer CRAFTD. Its co-founder, Dan Potter, says, “As a company that prides itself on providing as much autonomy and creativity to employees as possible, we nonetheless organize weekly team huddles to ensure we are all on the same page.”
At midday every Monday, the CRAFTD team hosts a weekly huddle. Dan says it’s their chance to discuss:
- Individual and team priorities
- Weekly goals and deliverables
- One thing the team is looking forward to and excited about for the week
- Something they learned in the past week
Monthly huddles are usually slightly longer than 20-minutes. Retail teams can treat them as mini-meetings to catch up on key metrics—how the store performed that past month, and what their goals are for the upcoming month.
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What are the benefits of team huddles?
Now that you know the different types of team huddles, let’s take a look at the benefits of hosting regular stand-up meetings.
Provide and receive support
Research found that 85% of employees are more motivated when a company has effective internal communication. Team huddles slot perfectly into that concept. Employees know what’s going on and who they can rely on throughout the working day, and can pass the baton for ongoing responsibilities.
We can see this in action with two teams hosting a huddle as they change shifts. The first team explains they haven’t had enough time to finish a physical inventory count. The second team now knows to prioritize certain sections of the store for a stock check. Everyone works together to get the job done.
Address potential issues
Unfortunately, issues do arise when you’re running a brick-and-mortar store. Stock goes missing. Staff call in sick. A delivery doesn’t turn up as expected.
Team huddles are the ideal opportunity to handle and address issues. Have your team use the stand-up meeting as the way to communicate potential issues. Then, work together to solve the problem before it becomes a bigger one.
As the saying goes, “Teamwork makes the dream work.” That’s especially true for retail teams.
A team huddle helps retail teams to overcome that challenge. The 20-minute stand up involves people across every department. Everyone gets the opportunity to provide status updates so nobody’s left in the dark.
Better communication is a natural benefit of hosting regular huddle meetings. Brian Lim of Into the AM says, “our managers are in at least two huddles a day. During these huddles, we cover what's coming up in the next 24 hours and figure out a game plan. The major benefit of these huddles is to keep everyone on the team aligned and to also schedule bigger meetings to handle any issues that are more complex or require more time.”
We love huddles so much that this has caused us to have more frequent one-on-one huddles throughout the week with direct reports. This keeps everyone on the same page and reduces the chances of any problems coming up.
Callout and reward excellent performance
Did you know that more personal recognition was the leading motivator for 37% of employees?
Staff appreciation gives huge uplifts across the board. It increases teamwork, results in fewer on-the-job accidents, and generates higher loyalty scores from customers.
Team huddles provide the ideal opportunity to do that. In your meetings, make a point of mentioning when employees have performed exceptionally well. Congratulate them for their accomplishments, whether it’s something quantitative like exceeding their sales targets, or something qualitative like being a great team player.
Not only does this recognition help high-performing employees continue on their upward trajectory, but it can inspire others in the huddle to do the same.
Almost three-quarters of employees think they’re missing out on company news. A team huddle is designed to be the uber-strong cement that prevents things from slipping through the cracks.
Yuvi Alpert of Noémie says, “Team huddles are quintessential to ensuring that all team members are on the same page with priorities and to-dos each and every day. As such, our team has a 15-minute daily stand up to ensure that large priorities are covered before the day gets started.”
As our priorities change each day, team huddles are a wonderful way to ease into the day, remain on the same page, and bring up any and all issues before a hectic work day begins.
Official performance reviews are typically scheduled every few months. For quicker updates that motivate staff between the long stretches, host huddle meetings to report on progress and team performance.
Let’s say that your team huddle involves three people: your store manager, a store associate, and a cashier. You know each of those people have different roles and responsibilities. Make sure they’re on track to meet them by requesting a quick status update during each weekly huddle.
Cashiers are an especially important part of your day-to-day operations, and these huddles might uncover opportunities for additional cashier training.
Best practices for team huddles
Meetings are a great way to align teams. To ensure your team meetings are as productive as possible, consider following these five best practices.
Determine frequency and setting
It’s your decision on how often you want to host a team huddle: daily, weekly, monthly, or somewhere in between. Also consider the time of day they’re hosted. Do huddles take place in the morning, 30 minutes before the store opens? Is lunchtime your stand-up time? Or do you have a quick scrum at the end of the day?
There is no generic rule that states one is more effective than others. The frequency and timing of your team huddles depend on a variety of factors, including your team size, shift schedule, and store opening hours.
Also think about where your huddle will take place. The stockroom is a good option if you want to host a mini-huddle out of a customer’s sight. The shop floor is the better option if you’re discussing something relating to store layout.
Finally, set time limits for your huddles. They’re most effective in 20-minute bursts. That’s when people’s productivity tends to drop off. Schedule another longer meeting to discuss anything that makes the huddle overrun.
Consistency is key
Regardless of how often you’re doing your team huddles, the most important thing is consistency. Make it part of the daily, weekly, or monthly routine. That way, employees never arrive unprepared. (In the worst case scenario, that leads to an unproductive meeting that’s a complete waste of everyone’s time.)
As Jeff Moriarty, Marketing Manager at Moriarty's Gem Art, says Moriarty's “is family owned, so we do a family team huddle every morning. It lasts about 10 to 15 minutes. We each talk about one goal we have for the day we are each going to accomplish. We also discuss any issues we had the previous day or weekend, and if help is needed, we ask for it at this time. These huddles really help us get our minds on track and start the day in a friendly way, especially when you are working with family.”
Make sure to set a schedule for your team huddles. Whether it's each day or once a week, just stick to it and make it part of the routine at work.
Give everyone opportunity to speak
It’s easy to get caught up in the idea of hosting a fun conversation with your team. But don’t get carried away and dominate the meeting. A team huddle is everyone’s chance to stay updated with what’s going on inside your store.
According to Kathryn McDavid, CEO of Editor’s Pick, “One of the major keys in a team huddle is for the manager or supervisor to not get too involved. You may kick the huddle off, but let your employees run the show. That gives them more flexibility and room to share.”
Make sure every retail associate has the chance to speak during each huddle. Invite them to share their thoughts, opinions, and goals with prompting questions.
If you’re finding that there are too many people involved in a single huddle, consider breaking them down into smaller groups. For example, store associates can have their own mini-huddles.
Your employees’ voices are crucial to the growth of your organization, and it’s important to show your team that you value their input. When employees understand and feel the impact that their role has on our business’ success—no matter how small that role may be—they are more empowered, confident, and engaged.
Focus on how rather than why
A good huddle gives retail staff the explanation as to why they’re working toward the goals your store has set. A great huddle gives guidance on how to do it.
For example, your retail store manager explains that the overarching goal for your store is to provide customers with positive experiences that make them want to come back. Use the huddle to share practical ways your team can meet that goal. They could greet people as soon as they enter or encourage them to use your in-store POS to send an email shopping cart to customers browsing an item that isn’t in stock.
Iterate and improve based on feedback
Team huddles are a work of progress. You won’t get them right straight away, and that’s OK.
Treat it as an opportunity to involve your team and improve employee engagement. Ask the following questions to unveil how your huddles could be more productive:
- Do you enjoy the team huddles? Why/why not?
- Is there anything you don’t think we need to discuss in a huddle?
- How would you recommend we make the huddles more productive?
Aside from formal surveys, make mental notes of passing comments your employees have said post-huddle. You might overhear them complaining that the daily stand up takes up too much time away from their already-busy schedule. If that’s the case, trial a weekly huddle and take it from there.
Introducing huddles at your retail store
There’s no doubt that team huddles are effective ways to communicate with your retail team. They’re the perfect opportunity to provide much-needed employee recognition, get status updates, and address potential issues before they become bigger problems.
Whether you’re using them to announce upcoming events or to plan your upselling tactics for the week, use these tips to host productive huddles.
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