DSCC’s Mokena Regional Office implemented huddles to improve meeting deadlines and catching potential mistakes before they happen in the system.
Collaborator (Non-Members)Mokena Regional Office Manager Deanna Deleshe, University of Illinois at Chicago’s Division of Specialized Care for Children
In DSCC’s Mokena Regional Office, each Care Coordinator is paired with a Program Coordinator Assistant to work as a team to meet a child and family’s needs. A Care Coordinator is a DSCC staff person who is a nurse, social worker, speech pathologist or audiologist. A Program Coordinator Assistant (PCA) is often a family’s first contact with DSCC. The PCA takes referrals, discusses the child’s needs and sends the application to families. The PCA also determines financial eligibility and updates this information periodically.
The Care Coordinator and PCAs’ individual responsibilities often are contingent upon the completion of specific activities from their respective partner. Upon my arrival as manager, several employees expressed multiple issues related to the lack of communication between team members. This lack of communication resulted in missed deadlines or lapses in other pertinent information required to complete a task.
What We Tried
The concept of team meetings had been introduced to the staff in years previous but had not been successful, however, due to lack of participation. It was my hope that implementing huddles would promote consistent communication and collaboration between team members as well as empower individual problem-solving skills. The concept of the “huddle” was addressed in an all – staff meeting. Huddle checklists (Mokena PCA and CC Team Huddles Checklist) were sent out that highlighted specific talking points as well as a resource article that discussed the purpose and benefits of this meeting type. Huddles were to be scheduled on a weekly basis and include the following information:
- review of staff schedules
- scheduled meetings
- review of specific cases
- priorities that must be addressed
Once huddles were in place, I met with each individual team on two separate occasions to help facilitate continued communication between each team member. During the meeting, all members discussed any barriers and individual goals. I also reiterated the importance of open communication.
Following the implementation of the huddle, I saw a dramatic decrease in the number of negative issues reported among team members. Several team members reported that discussing priorities has improved their ability to complete tasks according to established deadlines. Overall, the office has become a more positive, productive environment.
At minimum, huddles should be initiated weekly. However, they can occur as often as needed. We have not discussed formal huddles with families, but families are contacted every 6 months, or more often to assess their needs. This is a great time to address communication as a whole between the family and the DSC team.
My hope for the future is that our team as a whole will begin to naturally “HUDDLE” with one another. Huddling promotes teamwork, collaboration and a sense of connection.
Effective communication is the key to any successful relationship, including relationships between team members. Huddles encourage increased and clearer communication, which will ultimately lead to increased productivity. For more information on the merits of huddles, visit How to Run a Morning Huddle. Some suggestions include the following:
- Stand up during meetings.
- Everyone should get a chance to speak. Talk to each other.
- Decides who speaks first.
- Make it fun.
- Be mindful of the purpose of the team huddle.
- Keep it short.
- Don’t try to solve problems during the huddle. Come up with a plan and schedule a separate meeting for problem solving.