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COMPANY CULTURE

To Improve Company Culture, Huddle Up

Don't hate the huddle.
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Huddles are cheesy, new-agey, and maybe even creepy. But we're recommending them anyway, for two reasons:

1. Eric Ryan, cofounder of Method, a $100 million cleaning-products company, swears by huddles as a way to preserve a culture--especially under the pressures of rapid growth.

2. We've learned at our Build/Live events that you, noble readers, take the challenge of culture preservation quite seriously.

Back in 2005, Ryan was concerned about maintaining Method's culture. He sought advice from Richard Reed, cofounder of Innocent Drinks, a beverage company with 250 employees. Reed suggested a huddle. Ryan liked the idea, but implementation wasn't easy.

"The first one was a bit awkward, feeling more like a forced staff meeting," he recalls on FastCompany.com. "It slowly transitioned into something more akin to a weekly sales status. That wasn't much better."

Subsequent attempts to lighten the mood felt too much like "forced family fun." But in time, Ryan figured it out.

Today, Method's huddles are "dedicated to discussing and preserving everything that makes us who we are as a company, like new sales wins, financial challenges, birthdays, babies, and other personal announcements," he notes. "But above all, it's a caffeinated way to kick off the week with laughs, smiles, and the occasional celebration."

Here are Ryan's six tips for non-cringe-inducing huddles:

• Have a different huddle leader each week. It preserves the community spirit, keeps it fresh, and prevents the need to cancel if someone is out of the office.

• Create a regular schedule, so there's an expected cadence to the huddle, but keep the agenda loose, and leave room for things like "shout-outs of awesomeness" to recognize exceptional work.

• Occasionally disrupt the huddle with an outside speaker or major agenda point. Having a standing weekly meeting creates the perfect forum to discuss major topics. (Method hasn't had to call a separate all-company meeting in three years.)

• Send out notes afterward to keep everyone in the loop, inform those who missed the huddle that day, and reinforce its importance.

• Don't hold it in a conference room. Anywhere but a conference room!

IMAGE: Getty
Last updated: Dec 27, 2013

THE BUILD NETWORK STAFF

The Build Network staff curates provocative, actionable leadership advice for executive teams running sustained-growth companies.




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