Sunday, September 7, 2008

Huddle Up

When I was at Army Ranger School, the concept of a morning huddle had a much different meaning than it does now. First of all, morning might have meant 2:00 am, somewhere in the middle of the Florida swamps. A huddle might have included the patrol leader, point man, compass man, team leaders all studying a map with a red-lensed flashlight -- on their bellies, under a poncho. Five or six hungry Ranger students comparing notes, revising the plan, making sure they were still on track to accomplish the mission.

A morning huddle today certainly has different structure (although I do recommend doing it on your belly with a red-lensed flashlight under a poncho). But we use them for the same purpose: compare notes, revise the plan, make sure everyone is aligned for mission accomplishment. We use them to start the day, start the week, or start a project phase.

Scott Snair, author of the Complete Idiot's Guide to Motivational Leadership, suggests the following key points to keep your meetings on track (his points in bold, my comments added):

-- Limit the guest list. Less is usually better, although if you can bring in a shift or the whole office and still keep the meeting short, it is a great way to align the team. Perhaps rather than "limit," perhaps "manage the guest list" is more appropriate.

-- Restrict your goals. Review top priorities and identify major issues. Don't make this a staff meeting or a forum for people to talk about their weekend. Hit the highlights and move out.

-- Prepare. Hand out schedules, key action items. I like to look at all my metrics (finances, personnel, program execution numbers) prior to my morning huddle.

-- Hire a pitbull to keep things moving. This meeting should not take more than 15 minutes. Someone needs to keep the team on schedule.

-- Get lost. Don't allow the mini-meeting after the meeting. Leave your morning meeting and get out and see the troops. Stick around too long'll never leave.

Whether lying on your belly in the swamp at "O Dark Thirty" or meeting with your shift before getting started, morning huddles are critical to align the team. Keep them short, stay focused, and get back in the fight! Start your day or your week off right. You can use my red-lensed flashlight and poncho if you need it.

That's Leader Business. Hooah!


Steve Harper said...

I am a big believer in these kinds of quick huddle meetings. It keeps those that need to be engaged engaged and lets everyone know the daily plan and how they fit in the team's effort to accomplish the mission!

Excellent post as always my friend!

Ripple On!!!

mark cowin said...

I love Leader Business!

If only I had something helpful to contribute right now - sadly I don't - Tom I'm just grateful that you give so freely of your time and experience! I love coming here and taking your lessons back to my unit.


Tom Magness said...


Thanks for stopping by, my friend. Great comment. Isn't this a great way to ensure consistent communication? People just want to understand priorities and where they fit in the big picture. It IS all about engagement. Hooah!

Tom Magness said...


Don't think you have nothing to say. The fact that you stopped by made a difference to me. I'm sure you have that sort of influence in your unit as well. Keep me posted and let me know how your huddles are going!