How Business Huddles Work

Touchdowns From Business Huddles Not Meetings

business huddle

I’ve never seen anyone drag a table, chairs and a white board onto the football field or basketball court. Have you? Every successful (and not-so-successful) sports team on the field starts the game with a huddle. It’s all they need. And whether they’re 3-and-goal or getting their butts kicked six ways to Sunday, they still take time in the middle of the game for a quick huddle or two. The purpose? To re-group, to refocus, and to make sure everyone knows what’s happening next. Huddles are a here-and-now, immediate meeting of the minds to say what needs to be done next to stay or become successful. In business, we aim to do the same thing; only we often fail at it, frequently.

Case in point – the painfully long and drawn-out meeting.

Most businesses hold meetings, especially for those who are in management positions. They hold these golden rituals weekly or even daily as though without them nothing would get done. In realty these meeting almost ensure nothing will get done. They become bull sessions where people talk about what they did over the weekend and what they should have for lunch. Truth be told, maybe 15 minutes of important dialogue goes on for every hour of meeting that someone sits through.

So enough with the distractions already! It’s time to get serious here and head for the huddle!



Why Huddles Work

huddles work
Mouth guards are optional, especially if food is involved, but holding morning huddles, rather than meetings, is a concept that has been catching on a lot in the past few years. That’s because you can get a lot more done throughout the day when you skip the coffee-drinking, slouched-seated, “Is that the last doughnut?” or “We need another pot of coffee here,” full-blown meeting. Rather than holding meetings where everyone gets comfortable, kicks back, and gets off topic, change the concept.

If you want to improve productivity in your office, hold a morning or mid-day huddle. Hold it at the same time each day, and have each employee come into the boardroom ready to share one minute’s worth of news. They can provide an update on what they are working on, what their plans are, what they need, etc. Have them stand up so they don’t get the idea they should get too comfortable.

By the time everyone has taken one minute to go around the huddle and bring everyone up to speed, the team knows what is going on and the direction they are taking. If someone needs to speak further to someone else about an issue, they can do so after the huddle is over. No need to hold up the whole team to deal with the problems in one division or office (especially once you figure out the dollars being lost by doing so).



Laying the Ground Rules

business huddle rules

Buy a whistle and a clipboard if you need the reminder, but never forget you are the coach. People will probably balk about running drills in the parking lot, but you should be okay hanging a  “No pain, No gain,” poster somewhere. Oh, and don’t feel bad about implementing a daily huddle and laying down some ground rules to go with it. After all, if everyone is on the same page and knows what the next play is, the company will have a better chance of scoring.

So take some time to determine what you want your huddle to look like, and what you want out of it. Like I suggested earlier, many people opt for the “standing only” huddle, which is the ideal way to run it, since it keeps people from getting too comfy. If you are standing, you are more likely to wrap up the huddle quickly and get back to your office. (And before some of you finger-wagging sticklers write to me, I know that not everyone can stand through a huddle! I’m suggesting that those who are able to stand, should. Those who can’t, well, all sports have benches. The idea is not to get too comfortable okay?)


Gauging The Results

business huddle results

If you do nix the lengthy meetings and opt for the quick, yet effective, huddle, pay attention to the results you get. Not only will you be chewing up less of your employees’ time, but they will also be forced to really think about their own work goals each day, because you want them to share them with the group. You may just find that the huddle helps to increase productivity, create a team atmosphere, and keep people from gaining extra weight from eating all those morning-meeting donuts and bagels.



Check out this great article on, showing how meetings are a colossal waste of time.  Also, here are some tips on holding effective huddles to make your productivity even better.





16 thoughts on “How Business Huddles Work”

  1. Mike,

    Great content–inspiring! Our culture is even moving toward the “expectation” of some type of visual, such as a Powerpoint to go with each meeting. Some create “Powerpointless” presentations to highlight 2 or 3 very obvious points! HA
    It is getting so that, upon entering a meeting room, everyone looks expectantly up at the screen in the room waiting for their “media hit”.

    Doesn’t anyone just talk any more!?

    Klink (From deep in the “innuds” of the corporate beastie)

  2. My wife is on a committe that not only wastes time, people even bully her around and TOTALLY miss the mark and the vision they should have. This is something I can bring to her through this analogy you are using Mike. Basically the quarterback is the leader, the rest of the team are the managers and the audience is a mix between the company, customers and anythig esle. Everyone in the audience will react to what THEIR team is doing. Powerful stuff!

  3. Mike, need. Advise I am in sales and we have an hour and half meeting everyday to discuss what we are doing! Normaly the meeting start telling us the we are not on target, then insults of how mediocre we are after that “if you do not achieve we will take action, then over and over the same things will be discuss, then each sales person must stand at the board (we are 11) we need to tell the others why we have failed ourself, why we failed the team, what excuse we will give ourself if we fail and what action plan we have not To fail! This. We do every morning for an hour. And half?? Please give some advise this is driving the hole team up the wall but. Everybody is to scared to do something! Karen SA. Pretoria

    1. That sounds like a train wreck. The leader needs to change that in a big way. Negative reinforcement gets attention and people complying to the minimum standard, positive reinforcement gets attention and people striving for the highest standard.

  4. This is quite an insightful article. I feel the same way about this, though not in the office, but in the classroom. I have debated with my school to have more interactive lessons, not the usual lessons where children become bored because they don’t understand and begin doodling or chatting, but yeah, I agree with the ‘huddle up’ method. Thanks for the article!

  5. Just as Karen pointed, we have the same meetings every first day of the week in my company and we call it KPI. These meeting can take as long as three hours of productive time. By the time it ends, every member of the team is feeling de-motivated and ready to leave the company. Accountability is good but when it destroys team morale and wastes time, then these meetings must stop.

  6. Great points Mike, huddles work because everyone knows there is pressing deadline (game is starting, time-out is ending, practice has just wrapped up) a goal accomplished or to be accomplished or a closing thought to impart to wrap up what has been done before the focus shifts to action, something else or solving an immediate challenge (special play to win the game). I well remember days when every meeting was a long review of the well thought out notes of the speaker – but not as relevant or drawing engagement from the participants as they just walked in cold. In a huddle everyone comes together knowing there is a a purpose be it encouragement, instruction or quick planning or a review of the next move.

  7. This is quite an insightful article. I feel the same way about this, though not in the office, but in the classroom. I have debated with my school to have more interactive lessons, not the usual lessons where children become bored because they don’t understand and begin doodling or chatting, but yeah, I agree with the ‘huddle up’ method. Thanks for the article!

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