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14 Tips for a Productive Meeting (aka Huddle)

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14 Tips for a Productive HuddleGreat Game Huddles (what others may mistake for typical staff meetings) provide a communication rhythm where everyone is kept informed, involved, and engaged in the progress of The Game.

The Huddle is the convergence of the entire Great Game of Business process. This is where it all comes together. This is where all the principles and practices of The Game, as we like to call it, come to life by exchanging information up, down, and across the organization. The Huddle is our weekly ritual of forecasting the score. It’s where we learn how we are progressing toward our Critical Number and how we are tracking to a bonus payout. This is where we share our wins and losses and celebrate our latest MiniGame™. This is where we share the numbers, teach each other the business, and see the results of our education.

This is where we see if all our actions and decisions are making a difference. “Are we making money? If not, what’s the next play?” It’s where The Game becomes real.

Stop Meeting — Start Huddling

While keeping score with a series of scoreboards (a fundamental piece with The Great Game of Business) helps us clearly determine if we are winning or losing, following the action through a series of Huddles becomes the catalyst for truly effective communication.

Huddling helps an organization close the feedback loop and reconnect, refocus, reengage, and recommit to the success of the company.

These 14 tips ensure your Huddles are most productive:

1 // Begin with the Right Leadership

Be sure the Huddle lives up to its purpose of helping to consistently inform, involve, engage, educate, and, of course, hold people accountable for the success of the business. Remember, Huddle leaders, that Huddles are for the team, not for the managers.

2 // Focus on the Right Scoreboard

Huddles start with a relevant and meaningful scoreboard, highlighting the right measures that clearly tell the team if they are winning or losing and who’s accountable.

3 // Keep Your Huddles Frequent, Swift, and on Time

Maintain a simple, fixed agenda while making sure the content is relevant and the communication is concise and swift. Same day, same time, same place—every week. That way people can count on it. They can plan for it. They can develop a routine around it.

4 // Push Back on the Pushback

The immediate pushback you will get when recommending a frequent Huddle is, “We’re too busy!” Executives can’t imagine finding the time to get everybody in the same place every week for one minute, let alone thirty to sixty. Yet this discipline will actually save you time. Teams that Huddle frequently find they interrupt each other considerably less and that productivity improves. They understand there is a fixed time when they’ll have everyone else’s attention.

5 // Assign Employees to Small Teams

In your company-wide Main Huddles, create groups with a manager acting as the team captain to teach and coach the team during the Huddle. The small groups provide a comfortable setting for employees to get involved, ask questions, and provide input—all the things you want the Huddle process to create.

6 // Provide a Blank Scoreboard, and Populate It in Real-Time

Give employees a blank scorecard each month to fill out so each can track, measure, and report information during each weekly Huddle. The simple act of writing the numbers down and doing a little math keeps everyone engaged and involved and has a dramatic effect on the employees’ ability to learn, understand, and remember how the numbers work together. Try it—it works.

7 // Consider Binders

In an age of electronics, paper seems counterintuitive. But object permanence is a real thing. Consider providing Game binders to the employees that include all the GGOB information they need in order to follow the progress of The Game, including the annual business plan, Huddle scoreboards, bonus plan, a business/financial glossary of
terms, training bites, and so on. Think of it as your employees’ mobile office—a central place to store all the information they need to follow the action of The Game.

8 // Make It Interesting … and a Little Fun!

Provide small incentives to employees or their teams to answer questions or make the calculations on the scoreboard. Include small games or brief training bites to reinforce your financial and business literacy efforts. One practitioner created Company-opoly—a customized version of the classic Monopoly game—to begin teaching the balance sheet to its teams.

9 // Encourage Learning

The Huddle should educate people on the business. Highlight the topics that are relevant and useful to the team. Ultimately, people want to know how they can make a difference. It’s important to always provide line of sight by making a connection between what they do every day—both individually and as a team—and the financial
outcomes of the business.

10 // Keep in Touch with Your Strategic Plan

People support what they help create, remember? The more input you get from your team as you put your annual plan together (a key piece to our High-Involvement Planning Process), the more you’ll want to reconnect to it during your Huddles. But don’t just present numbers. Start a discussion about how the numbers they’re forecasting compare to the goals they previously set.

11 // Employees, Not Accounting, Generate the Numbers

Employees’ efforts created those numbers, so they should be the ones to gather them. This also allows the employees to discover and understand exactly where these numbers are coming from and how their daily efforts drive those numbers.

12 // And They Should Report the Numbers, Too

Give your employees a voice by letting them call out their own forecasts. This allows them to celebrate their successes and mourn their failures with the rest of the company. It’s such a great reminder that you’re all in it together.

13 // Proactively Highlight People Creating “Stories behind the Numbers”

Your company’s success didn’t happen magically. There are real, flesh-and-blood people behind everything you do. Show your employees how each one of them plays a role in the company’s success by proactively seeking out stories about how the numbers were achieved. This adds an extra layer of accountability and ownership.

14 // Always Keep It High Energy

Don’t be like Ferris Bueller’s economics teacher, droning your audience into submission. Bring the energy. Your employees aren’t going to get excited if you aren’t engaged in the process. Ask questions. Give out kudos. Show your passion for making the company a great place for everyone to work and achieve success. Remember, they’re watching you.


This is an excerpt from Get in the Game: How to Get Rapid Financial Results and Lasting Cultural Change.

Topics: Huddles, The Great Game of Business®, High-Involvement Planning™, engagement, Get in the Game

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About The Great Game of Business

Our approach to running a company was developed to help close one of the biggest gaps in business: the gap between managers and employees. We call our open-book approach The Great Game of Business. What lies at the heart of The Game is a very simple proposition: The best, most efficient, most profitable way to operate a business is to give everybody in the company a voice in saying how the company is run and a stake in the outcome. Let us teach you how to develop a culture of ownership, where employees think, act and feel like owners.