How to make meetings more fun, motivating, and interactive with a team huddle

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Have you ever noticed that at the beginning of each football game the players and the coach put their heads together and have a motivational huddle, bringing solidarity to the group and a positive kick off to the game? This happens in hockey, football, and almost every game played.

Most times they form a circle, giving the message that we are all in this together. Other times it takes place in a locker room and resembles a classroom style. That is when the captain needs to separate from the group and be a bit more directive, especially if they are experiencing a crisis.

The reasons sport teams huddle are to strategize, share, prioritize, motivate, celebrate, and to recognize selected members. It is usually led by the team captain, or in football by the quarterback. Doesn’t that sound like something that might also work for your organization?

Are you behaving like the quarterback of an engaged team, or a dictator who barks orders to get compliance when sending people off to have a productive day?

The objective of a team huddle is to improve internal communications.

Morning huddles should happen at the start of every work day. They should last no more the 10 to 15 minutes maximum. Some companies with whom I have worked start them at odd times, like 8:43 or 7:17 A.M. I’m a big fan of team huddles where you bring everyone on your team together (face-to-face and/or virtually) to quickly touch base. When I started my career at IBM, every morning at the designated time, we would hear a business update by the president, or the department manager.

Then every employee would shout out one important thing they are going to accomplish that day. But remember, this is not their day’s to-do list. That is different. Finally, we would stand beside our desks and sing the company song (yup sounds silly), and wish each other a successful day.

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Today many successful corporations still do team huddles. These include: Lowes (who also does a company chant), Google, Microsoft, etc. At our local transit company, Mike Cassidy meets with all drivers around 6:00 A.M. They share road stories from yesterday, events from today’s Guardian, and what they might expect on the roads that day.

At the Delta Prince Edward, each department has their own 10-15 minute team session facilitated by the manager. Afterwards the GM, James Tingley, conducts one with the leadership team.

For managers, here are some morning huddle ideas for work to start a successful day:

  • Be an example: Arrive at least 10 minutes early
  • Be prepared: Make notes from the previous session and review your observations
  • Be punctual: Start at the designated time regardless of who is missing
  • Stand up: This isn’t nap time. A previous employer had no chairs in their meeting rooms.
  • Be encouraging: Have members rotate responsibility for bringing thoughts for the day
  • Be productive: Materials must be prepared and reviewed daily, prior to the team huddle
  • Be fair: Everyone gets an opportunity to speak
  • Be diligent: Start and finish on time

In general, most company meetings suck. So, instead of eliminating them, make them fun, interactive, and relevant. Try it, you will be strengthening the team culture and staff will leave more inspired. If huddles didn’t work, why would most successful sports team engage in them?

My question for managers this week: “Are you behaving like the quarterback of an engaged team, or a dictator who barks orders to get compliance when sending people off to have a productive day?”

Make meetings fun, interactive, and relevant

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