The water’s fine: Take 5 and jump in!

[Preface: This is post 3 on the Daily Five Minutes. Catch Post 1 here, and Post 2 here.]

If I take most of your emails in these past three days and sum them up, they sound something like this:

“Okay Rosa, I’m sold on the Daily Five Minutes, so what’s the best way to start? Can I just try it, one employee at a time, or should we huddle first so they know its coming? Are there any red flags to Taking 5 just with my own crew, if I don’t get it blessed first by the guys upstairs?”

  • Start now, but only if you’re starting with good intent. As manager, you’re to have no agenda, no hidden motive. The employee talks. The manager listens and responds. Your only objectives should be ‘Ike loa: getting to know your employees better, and Mālama: creating a circle of comfort and safety in which they willingly feel they can step in, whether invited by you or not.
  • You can start one person at a time, or huddle first to introduce the concept to a group. Either way, the first conversation does have to be about what it is, why you want to do it, when and how often they can expect it. Your employees need to understand that they are the leaders in the conversation, and they have to be willing to take that lead because you’ve made it a safe, unthreatening time, with no ramifications or repercussions.
  • No red flags that I can think of, but frankly I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t tell the “guys upstairs” about it, and ask them to do it with you! I’ve practiced the Daily Five Minutes completely on my own, and as the “gal upstairs” I’ve mandated it for my entire organization. Here’s the biggest red flag: once you start it, and you tell the employees about it, you better commit to it. The only time the Daily Five Minutes goes sour, is when the employees want it and expect it, and the manager is inconsistent with actually doing it or allows it to eventually disappear.

Like any other new process or system, the Daily Five Minutes creates some new vocabulary for you, and everyone who participates in it must speak the language and understand the jargon. For instance, it’s important that the staff understands the “Daily” is for the manager, and not for them if logistically there is no way for the manager to get to everyone every single day. Don’t create expectations you can’t fulfill.

However, remember the caveat in the last bullet point above: your staff will expect regularity and consistency in whatever their timing ends up to be. Let’s say you have 10 employees, commit to doing 2 of them each day and take 2 days off every week. Each one of them will get to Take 5 with you once a work-week.

Reality check: The Daily Five Minutes is not a cure-all. Don’t start it in your company if you recognize there are some big issues that should be dealt with — deal with those things first, or you’ll open the floodgates and get nailed. Solve the problems you already know about, or you’ll end up sabotaging a good idea that has great potential. If you’re the boss, unsure about the water temperature in the company pool, wade in yourself first: don’t set your managers up for failure. If they hate their first attempts they won’t keep trying.

Like any good process, the Daily Five Minutes must maintain its integrity. It’s time when both employee and manager work on their relationship, and learn to communicate with each other better. It’s not a daily informational line-up and it’s not a pre-shift meeting. You probably need those too, but those are built on company agendas. Don’t confuse them with the goal of the Daily Five Minutes: hearing what’s on the employee’s mind.

Keep it healthy, and keep it on the clock. The Daily Five Minutes is not for sanctioned smoke breaks, and it’s not for conversation with an after-work beer.  It’s not done at lunch in the employee cafeteria, and it’s not done while operating heavy equipment. Keep it private and uninterrupted, but try to keep it out of your office (your power coats your office walls and is too stifling; that’s just life.) The Daily Five Minutes is for the Daily Five Minutes, and that’s it. That’s more than enough.

And remember that employees will bring up stuff that won’t be solved or fully addressed in the Five Minutes you are literally aiming for. It’s great when they feel safe enough to drop a bombshell on you: circle of comfort achieved! Think “Voila!” You may get to be proactive versus reactive, in-the-know versus in the dark. It’s A-okay when one of your responses must be, “I hear you, and we need more time for this: when shall we get together again so we can deal with it better?” or “I think we may need to get other people involved in this: can we work on a game-plan to tackle it?” And don’t forget to say, “Thanks for telling me.”

It’s also okay when the Daily Five Minutes is spent shooting the breeze and laughing about silly things. In fact, it’s probably a good sign. Great relationships get built one conversation at a time, and in a nutshell, that’s what the Daily Five Minutes is all about.

My last two words on the commitment thing: trust me. The Daily Five Minutes does take some work, determination and persistence when you first introduce it. You’ll start wading through muddy waters. But once the Daily Five Minutes takes hold and becomes part of your company culture, commitment turns into pleasurable anticipation. Great managers find the Daily Five Minutes has become the most enjoyable part of their day, because the biggest and sweetest rewards in management are waiting for you within your staff.


  1. toni says

    I can speak personally of the success of the daily 5. I have practiced daily 5 for over two years now and I can honestly say that it has been my learning tool from my team and staff on how to be a better manager for them. In the past two year and still today, they are teaching me so much.
    So here is my story, I had a team with a new leader and half of its staff just hired with the leader. The beginnings of a great team was being driven down a path of distrust from the more senior staff of the newer staff, a sense of hostility for the newer staff from the more senior staff and above all of this was a supervisor who couldn’t understand why her team was always at battle with each other. She tried mandatory meetings where no one would talk, she tried talking with them one on one and nothing applicable was said. In the end the feedback she got from her team was that she was unapproachable and not understanding.
    During my daily 5 with this supervisor, she told me about all of her woes and tribulations with her team. When I asked her if she has done her daily 5 with them, she stated that she checks in with them everyday she works. I asked again about the daily 5. She said that she does not give officially a daily 5. I then asked her to start giving her staff a daily 5. I told her to announce to the team that she would be doing this and then see what would happen. I reminded her that the power of the daily 5 is for her to just listen and acknowledge.
    Wow what a change. At first the dirty petty stuff started to come out and then family, friends and personal goals. Now this team is more cohesive than ever and has entered our busiest time of the year strong in performance. Team members are going back to school with support of the supervisor and people are actually happy to be at work. It’s not all fun and games mind you, but the problems are not as big as before. The supervisor too has made stronger relationships with her team.
    Its simple, I know. The hardest things and the most effective are usually so simple.