Huddle Up!

Have you ever watched a football game where the offense did not huddle before each play?  At least long enough for the quarterback to call a new play?  If you did, you probably a watching your kids play in the backyard.

The reason for the huddle is that the players all want to be running the same play.  You don’t want them running back to think he is getting the ball when he is not and have two receivers going to the same spot.  That is a recipe for failure.

If this method of communication is good enough, even necessary, for the best athletes in the world, why are you doing it?

It is really easy.

Every morning, yes, every morning, whether you work in a software company, a service industry, a factory, or anywhere else, this will benefit you.  Gather your team together for as little as two minutes, go around the group and ask people to contribute two things.

The first thing is what they will be working on that day, if there will be challenges, any impacts from their work that might affect others, or any assistance they might need.  This is a great way to prevent duplicate work and to make sure people are not working at cross purposes.  It is amazing how often those both happen, from a simple lack of communication.

The second thing is any news they have that might affect the rest of the team.  If they were talking to someone in a different departments, a customer, or heard some big news events that they think might affect their coworkers, the group, or work, this is the time to bring it up.  This is not the time to discuss rumors.

Other things people might mention is if they are going to have an unusual schedule, like they have a lot of meetings or will be gone for part of the day, or will be out of the office on subsequent days.  This can be grouped under news that will affect the team.

There does not have to be a lot of discussion, but if you should encourage your team to ask questions of each other to clarify issues.  If it looks like a longer discussion is needed for a subset of your team, ask them to handle it after the huddle.

Huddles are not meant to cover strategic, long-term goals, but rather immediate issues facing your group.  Discussion of bigger issues should be the topic of more structured team meetings.

And one more thing about this meeting.  Don’t call it a meeting.  Call it a huddle, a stand up, a daily status brief, call it anything except meeting.  For some reason, maybe because people have been to too many bad ones, there is a negative stigma attached if you say you’re going to have a meeting every day.  And if you are facilitating them, make sure they are quick and that people stick to important topics.

These are great for any kind of team whether you are a manager or a project manager.

So make sure everyone is on the same page of the playbook, clear away any short-term issues, go out there and score a touchdown every day.

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