Agencies deploying the full Arizona Management System (AMS) effectively use team huddles at all levels to drive performance, identify problems and continuously improve their business processes.
Team huddles are intentionally designed to be brief, structured check-ins conducted at a regularly scheduled time and interval (usually daily or weekly) to assess the team’s performance since the last meeting, surface problems, determine countermeasures, and plan the team’s work to be completed by the next meeting.
In this sense, huddles are the practical embodiment of AMS: our results-driven approach for doing the work of state government so that every employee, at every level, with discipline, reflects on how they did, finds the waste, and decides how to do better going forward with sustainable progress.
Within the context of AMS, teams assemble at their huddle board at the designated time to visually track performance metrics for their core processes (see earlier discussion of huddle boards in the November 15, 2017 AMS In Focus article.)
- Agencies are responsible for adopting documented standard work for conducting huddle meetings at various organizational levels – e.g., front-line (Tier 1), unit level (Tier 2), etc.
- To ensure an orderly meeting that achieves results, team members should properly prepare before the huddle, updating their metrics and other visuals. Metrics should clearly indicate performance status against targets to expose gaps for problem solving.
- Role assignments (leader, time keeper, scribe) should rotate amongst the team members to foster group development and build leadership skills.
- Huddles follow a posted agenda that typically includes a review of metrics to reflect upon and visually document performance and adherence to standard work, celebrate successes and identify problems for action by the next huddle.
- Gaps between actual and expected performance should be logged on the huddle board’s problem tracker with an assigned owner, action and due date.
- The huddle should end on time. The huddle is not the venue for detailed problem solving, which may wind up being a desired countermeasure activity.
As with AMS generally, team huddles benefit employees and their agencies in numerous ways. They bring focus to the mission work that matters most and ensure employees feel meaningfully connected to it. They foster a respectful work environment where every employee’s voice is heard and contributes meaningfully in solving problems and helping the team to continuously improve.
Huddles are also useful in helping teams to prioritize and balance their workload. Too often employees feel frustrated by a whirlwind of competing priorities over which they have no control. Huddles help both management and front-line staff focus on the vital few tasks and assignments that can reasonably be accomplished in a set amount of time.
Such informed, two-way communication up and down the management chain builds both trust and accountability within the agency. Management knows what staff is working on, how they’re doing and where they may need help, while employees know that they can escalate problems without fear and receive support when they need it.