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What’s All This Talk about Huddle Talks?

By Holly Mockus   |   

It doesn’t matter what you call them – huddle talks, tailgate talks, pre-shift meetings, team meetings, stand up meetings, etc. – they all play a critical role in setting up high performing teams for success.  They may be short and sweet ‘chats’ but they pack a punch in helping to navigate the complexities encountered during each production day.  It is also an awesome opportunity to reinforce workplace safety, food safety, and quality requirements

Here are a few tips for conducting an effective huddle talk.

Take a few minutes to prepare.

  • You want to instill confidence in your team and set them up for success. Prepare by making a list of what you will cover at each talk so you don’t have to fumble through and you won’t forget any important information.

Use good presentation skills.

  • If you speak with confidence and authority, they will listen. Huddle talks are often given on the plant floor where there is other activity to compete with.  Speak clearly, loudly enough, and concisely.

Don’t allow sidebar conversations.

  • Sidebars are distracting to the entire group. Stop talking until you have their attention. Encourage the ‘side talkers’ to have their own discussion later, or politely ask them to give you their undivided attention.

Personalize it.

  • Using eye contact, let every single person know you are speaking not only to the group as a whole but to each of team member individually. Personalize the conversation by mentioning people’s names.  Discuss what is going well and how each individual can contribute to improvements needed.

Encourage discussion.

  • Discussion is great cerebral cement. If you get the team talking about important topics, they will remember them.  But don’t let huddle talks become gripe sessions – use your leadership skills to keep the conversations constructive and positive.

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Transform huddle talks from ‘talking head’ speeches to experiences that are personalized, individualized, and encourage open interaction for maximum impact.

How are others in the industry using these huddles? Take a look at the webinar below to hear how Dawn Foods benefited from incorporating huddle talks into their training regime.

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About the Author

With over 30 years of experience in the food industry at companies like ConAgra, Kellogg, and Sara Lee, Holly has recently joined the Alchemy Systems team where she currently helps the firm to create world class workforce development solutions for large, complex operations within the food industry.

Holly has held positions in food safety, quality assurance, sanitation, and plant regulatory affairs. She has authored several chapters related to the importance of record keeping and documentation in the food industry. She was honored to become the 2013 recipient of the Safe Quality Food Institute's Outstanding Achievement Award, and is passionate about the importance of training in the food industry including the cultivation of successful safety cultures.

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