We have seen a trend recently to ditch daily huddles and we’ve literally heard every excuse in the book: “I’m too busy to add another meeting to my calendar,” “we already have milestone check-ins during the color reviews,” and “if someone needs something, they can just call,” and more.
Sounds reasonable, right? We’re here to say, not so much.
Our experience supporting thousands of proposals throughout our careers has shown us that the only time a daily huddle isn’t needed is if the proposal hasn’t dropped. So, if you have a live proposal and aren’t making a daily huddle a mandatory part of your process, then you’re missing out on one of the highest-impact tactics to improve your responses. Why? Effective daily huddles align and maintain focus, establish priorities, and quickly clear any blocks or issues.
Keep in mind that the daily huddle should not be confused with a full status meeting. As the name implies, this meeting is akin to the quarterback huddling with the team for a few seconds before the play. You just want to review the day ahead, make sure everyone knows their role, and then snap the ball and get to work!
You’re probably not going to stand in a circle,
helmets touching, and discuss a proposal with your team. Heck, you probably aren’t even in the same building since most proposal teams are becoming more virtual with each passing day (Hey, our whole company is virtual and we love it!). So that means people aren’t stopping by your office to ask a question or tipping back in their chair to holler across cubes to inquire about a pricing issue. Daily huddles, especially in a virtual world, are really vital for staying in touch.
So, how can you make your proposal daily huddle valuable? The quick answer: daily huddles should be 15 minutes or less with a specific agenda that only addresses the following key KPIs:
- Is everyone on schedule?
- Are there any risks?
- Are more resources needed?
- Has there been any changes in the last 24 hours (e.g. amendments)?
- What’s the status of the B&P budget?
Easier said than done, right? We know that implementing a targeted 15 minute huddle can be tough, so check out our infographic for some best practices.
Dos and Don’ts
Do assign a clear leader to stay on-time and on-topic. Don’t lose focus or rely on a leader to just emerge. Proposal Managers are perfect for the facilitation role, but must be organized and direct to keep the focus on the agenda.
Do identify and address any immediate risks, but…Don’t real-time start solutioning! Identify the risk, tag who will lead the resolution, assign people to help, and set a due date. Then move on, leaving it to those actors to connect outside the huddle.
Do keep daily huddles brief and on schedule. Don’t lose trust with your team by starting late and going over the allotted time. People, especially on proposal teams, need to plan their day tightly and if your meetings always slip, then people are less likely to join future meetings.
Do invite the right people. Don’t invite someone daily who really only needs to come to the weekly pricing meeting. Identify key people based on their roles and responsibilities for the proposal. Some people are necessary for daily huddles while others are best fit for weekly overall status updates and monthly pipeline reports. That being said…
Do make it mandatory. Don’t make it a habit of letting key people miss. If a key SME or resource is consistently missing, then the viability and relevance of the huddle dramatically decreases.
Do open the call with a review of the prior day’s actions. Don’t assume that because an issue was raised the day before that it was closed. Out of sight is out of mind and reviewing issues daily will keep the focus on resolution.
Do set every meeting up for logistical success. Don’t make it hard to join or assume everyone will come in-person. People are on the go (or are running late or home sick) and many attendees expect to—at the very least—have the ability to call-in if needed. But make sure your virtual access is easy. NOTHING is worse than trying to join a meeting and finding you have to download software, input a complex access code, or create an account on the fly. That’s why we personally love and use Zoom—there’s no scrambling on our end and attendees just click a link to join from any device or computer. Video is included too, so seeing each other’s face really helps with engagement and focus. Your goal for huddles (and really, every meeting) is to increase productivity. Clunky, invasive technology will work against you. And with proposal teams changing all the time, you need a tool with zero learning curve.
Do wrap-up with a quick close-out with assignments and deadlines. Don’t assume people on the call will connect the dots and just pick up and run with tasks.
Do distribute notes and action items post-call. Don’t rely on other people to prioritize and have the same recall of what was discussed. The huddle facilitator should use the notes and action items to kick-off the following day’s huddle (see above) for consistency and documentation. Last but not least…
Do keep in mind that the overall goal is to address any issues and risks in 12 hours or less so that you can efficiently keep the proposal moving forward.
Say YES to the Huddle
Using these best practices, we have seen even the most fervent meeting hater get on board with daily huddles when they see the boost in output and real-time communication. And for the leaders and managers out there who feel drained by the idea of hosting yet another meeting—daily huddles shine sunlight on the team and can actually save you time, effort, and energy in the end by positively reinforcing engagement and accountability.
Need some help implementing or training your team on proposal process best practices? Reach out! We do this every day and are here to help.