Zack Gallinger-Long

The Huddle


Commonly seen in sports, the huddle is a great opportunity for your team to share, strategize, and problem solve.


In addition to building a culture of supportive teamwork, these brief meetings also improve communication and collaboration. Let's examine what a productive huddle looks like and review some best practices you might want to consider adopting.


Key Characteristics

  • Brevity - huddles should be 30 minutes or less

  • Punctuality - the meeting should start and end on time with all team members present

  • Prioritization - the most important topics should be discussed first

  • Relevance - the content of the meeting should be relevant and valuable to all required attendees. Avoid routine meetings that are simply "going through the motions"

  • Consistency - huddles should be scheduled for around the same time each occurrence (daily, weekly, etc.) and preferably in the morning so there is still time to tackle any action items before the end of the workday


Pro Tip: the huddle is not about the team reporting to the leader. Instead, it’s about team members communicating with one another, collaborating, supporting and learning from one another. When questions arise, allow room for the team to try and come up with the correct answer on their own. Of you are the team leader, resist the urge to jump in right away. Leave room for others to contribute and grow.

Example Elements

Each leader or facilitator should customize their huddle according to the needs of their team but here are some of the elements you might expect to see in a team huddle.

  • Review progress on action items and call out any key wins

  • Update timelines for any deliverables that are experiencing a delay or stall

  • Review upcoming tasks on the horizon and confirm who will own action item

  • Discuss any questions, challenges or proposed improvements


Example Questions

Specific examples of questions that might be used in a team huddle include:

  • What is each person's top priority for the day?

  • Does anyone need anything/anyone else in order to complete their objective?

  • Is the projected deadline still reasonable with the resources and time remaining?

  • Are there any unanswered questions from the team?


Watch The Clock

As the huddle leader, you are responsible for protecting everyone's time.

  • Promote efficiency by reigning in any conversations that start to drift off course

  • If a topic warrants a deeper conversation, have the owner of that topic schedule a separate meeting with the key stakeholders

  • Don't allow in-depth conversations to take over the huddle, this is supposed to be a quick touch base


Pro Tip: Be careful not to hold huddles solely for the sake of routine. Regularly ask the group if the huddle frequency still makes sense and what can be done to further improve the huddle.

Absences

Be mindful of individuals skipping the meeting, absences should be few and far between. When people routinely skip the huddle, it sends a message that the meeting is not important or valuable. Of course, if this is truly the case, then no one should be attending your meeting in the first place.


Have a Little Fun

Consider opening the huddle with a Question Of The Day to learn more about your teammates and start the meeting on a fun note. This element only takes a few minutes and can be a great way for the team to get better aquainted. This can be especially useful in a remote environment where teams have less opportunities to get to casually interact.


A word of advice: Be mindful of the preferences of the group you're working with. Some teams just want to focus on work. Don't try to force the fun if it's not a good fit for the culture your working in or it can come of as scripted and corny.

Worth Your Time

When managed properly, huddles are small investments of time that yield big returns. They help keep everyone on the same page and lead to stronger team cultures.


I would love to hear what elements you include in your huddle, please connect with me on LinkedIn and share your best practices!

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