Make Your Meetings Better with Huddles 2.0

When you think of a typical work meeting, what adjectives come to mind? Likely answers include: ‘boring,’ ‘pointless,’ ‘could’ve been an email’ … the list goes on.

Here’s a pro tip: If your meetings feel unproductive, it’s probably because they don’t retain a productive structure. You might find that while you spend hours in meetings each week, your goals are still not being met. Instead of long drawn-out meetings, we suggest making a habit of holding more frequent, concise meetings. For instance, a daily “check-in” meeting will help guide your team in the right direction. 

Why are daily meetings important?

Daily meetings provide an opportunity to check in with your team and discuss the Priorities of the day. These check-ins help ensure everyone is in sync and has knowledge of the tasks at hand. They also enable necessary communication between executive team members and the rest of the employees, giving all team members a chance to contribute.

A recent study by Gallup found that only 36% of employees are engaged in the workplace, which is inevitable to cause lower productivity and profitability for a company.

Brook Bissinger Davis, VP of Operations at Align, says that daily meetings give her the ability as a manager to help her team members stay on track and remain focused on the right Priorities. She emphasizes the importance of setting meetings with clear agendas, questions to answer, consistent timing, and resulting action items.

Not only will daily meetings help assign accountability to each employee, they will also help facilitate open dialogue about what needs to be done.

Eugene Terk, VP of Business Development and General Counsel, believes this open dialogue is essential. He says, “At the end of the day, it is critical that all employees in the organization have a way to share information about what they are working on, things they are hearing from customers, suppliers, vendors, partners and others, and what they may be struggling with that perhaps someone else in the organization can help them overcome.”

Ultimately, getting your team in the habit of daily check-in meetings will help facilitate a culture of collaboration, productivity, and transparency.

 Why is mastering your meetings more important post-COVID?

The hybrid workplace became the norm in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and experts say it’s here to stay. While it offers convenience and flexibility, the hybrid workplace also presents some challenges. One is that it’s naturally more difficult to synchronize your team remotely. Furthermore, onboarding new employees can take longer than usual and end up exhausting resources. Additionally, we all know at this point that Zoom fatigue is not a myth.

These factors all come down to an issue with one of the most important skills for a company to retain: communication. A report from The Cost of Poor Communications cited that a survey of 400 companies with 100,000 employees faced an average loss of $62.4 million each per year due to miscommunication. This number has multiplied since the shift to remote and hybrid work.

Managing all the moving parts remotely can become complex, which is why the Align team has benefited greatly from its own product during these times.

“When we all went remote, we developed some really good habits like including a conference link with every meeting, making sure there was an agenda and a calendar invite sent out, and learning to focus on the meeting happening in front of us and not giving in to the temptation to multi-task,” Bissinger says.

Maintaining those good habits as the team moved from a fully remote atmosphere to hybrid, has been key. 

How can we keep our meetings on track?

At Align, we believe that running an effective meeting is the most important skill for a team to master. It is in our meetings that ideas are shared, plans are hatched, and execution tactics are implemented. A company that does not practice an effective meeting structure will evidently fail, or end up on a tedious, never-ending road to achieve its goals.

For these reasons, the Align team decided to focus its attention on software updates that will help facilitate productive meetings.

Huddles 2.0 is the newest addition to the Align software for meetings. This interface update provides users with easier navigation, and clearly organizes your meeting details so that your most important metrics are right in front of you.

According to Robert Kihm, Chief Technology Officer at Align, customer feedback was the driving force behind the creation of Huddles 2.0. Kihm led the development of Huddles 2.0 based on hours of research and data gathered from Align’s Coaches and Customer Success team. After making the update available to a small group of users, the team continued collecting feedback and making meticulous adjustments to the prototype. Now, Huddles 2.0 is ready to launch.

“Meetings need to have a purpose and they need to generate actions either in the meeting or from the meeting,” Kihm says. “If those things get done, it was an effective meeting. Starting with that premise, we created Huddles 2.0 to be the tool that makes meetings more effective and more efficient.”

The point of any software is to make the lives of its users easier. If we at Align can develop a tool that will help a team come together, discuss goals, and take effective steps to reach those goals, then we have succeeded.

On behalf of Align, Davis says, “We strive to help companies on their journey to success. We believe that consistent, efficient, and data driven communication is at the heart of our mission. Therefore, when thinking about our next focus in the product, the huddles feature was a natural enhancement… When we were re-vitalizing this area of the product, we thought if we could help focus those meetings on the data with a smooth flow for in-person, all remote, or the hybrid environment, we would be able to ease the pain of the meeting fatigue happening across all businesses.”

How we use Huddles every day

Huddles are at the forefront of most of our internal communication. Alexander Ferguson, Customer Success Advisor, credits Huddles for helping his initial onboarding process run smoothly, and keeping him engaged as a remote employee who is based in Chicago. 

“The Daily Huddle is the most impactful action you can take to affect the course of your company. When everyone is on the same page from day to day, the tools to focus your team will land right into your hands. Someone has a particularly difficult conundrum? The whole team is on it. Someone is focused on a nonessential task? They can course-correct before they waste a single minute. Your virtual team is feeling the strain of working alone? Put the faces to names and voices to text in a video conference every morning. It may seem like a slog, but once you establish the rhythm of informational, quick and concise updates from your whole team, every single step to success becomes a leap. To build a monument of success culture, you first have to build the base, and at that, a base that is strong. Once you build the bedrock of strong day to day communication, goals that may have seemed impossibly high will now be only a matter of time, focus, and hard work.” – Alexander Ferguson

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