When used in a football context, a huddle is used to call a play. Similarly, a "management huddle" can be used by business leaders to call a play, too. By definition, management huddles are a technique used by leaders to gather colleagues together for a short meeting to share status or brainstorm options that can help the organization arrive at quality decisions in short order.
The technique can be used by leaders at all levels of an organization. Management huddles can be regularly scheduled, as when used to track key projects or provide regular status updates. They can be scheduled on an ad-hoc basis, as well, when an emerging situation calls for quick action. Many businesses use the technique in both ways. Regardless, management huddles are a tremendously effective technique for gathering information and making quicker decisions.
Here are some tips that you can use to incorporate management huddles into your leadership repertoire:
Set a time limit: Just like when teams huddle during a football game, management huddles are intended to be brief and to the point. By time-limiting the duration of a management huddle (10 to 20 minutes should suffice), you set an expectation among your associates that this gathering should quick and effective.
Stand-up: We don't want to confuse management huddles with other kinds of meetings. So, your team shouldn't be allowed to get too comfortable during a management huddle. When working with clients, I recommend that they require participants to stand-up during management huddles. This encourages brevity and concise communication among the group. It, also, helps to better ensure that huddles end as scheduled.
Script the Huddle: Because you only have so much time, it's wise to set a standard for how management huddles are to be conducted. If the huddle is intended to track status, each person should have a 2 minutes, or so, to highlight progress made and define what they will accomplish before the next regularly scheduled huddle. If the huddle is ad-hoc, the leader should be very descriptive in describing desired outcomes (from the huddle) and be very directive about how the huddle will be run.
Close with Assignments: As the huddle winds down, it's important to assign any necessary follow-up responsibilities to participants so that each person understands expectations and accountability. This will help to expedite results and improve progress between huddles.
Summarize the Findings: Following the huddle, the leader should (or assign someone to) encapsulate the results in a brief summary that is sent out to participants. This closes the loop on the huddle and ensures that your colleagues understand the outcomes and next steps.
I hope that this discussion has inspires you to give management huddles a try. The technique can do wonders in improving communications and shortening the time it takes to make decisions in your business. As referenced in an earlier article, these tips will also help you keep your management huddles brief and on-point.
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