I’m a big fan of short morning meetings with your core project team when work loads are intense and moving pieces are flying all over the place. When organized in short huddle format check-ins can be as short as 20 minutes and set a productive tone for the rest of the work day. Video conferencing for huddles works great when you have team members in different places. Even if you work in the same office building, early morning virtual huddles allow you to settle into your space or dial in from home when you are running late.
It’s important to assign a huddle convener to keep track of time and agenda items. I usually play this role as a project manager. I’m typically also the notetaker in this role. I break out huddles into three parts – announcements, agenda items, and problem solving.
- Due dates
- Need to knows
Announcements should only take 1-3 minutes. First, start by noting who is on the call and who is missing. It’s helpful to be aware of who is out of the office for the day and who was involved in these morning discussions. Huddle notes should go out to the whole group at the end of each meeting.
Next, cover what is due today and important items due in the near future. If anyone is has upcoming meetings related to the project, this would be the time to mention those.
Need-to-knows are any announcements that are important for the group as it relates to the project. These announcements should be quick enough to mention and move on. If you know an announcement will spark discussion, it’s better to move it to an agenda item.
Last, announcements can include feedback gathered from project stakeholders. Good feedback (not necessarily positive) is actionable and can be taken care of during announcements. However, there will be times when feedback requires discussion and it’s OK to make this an agenda item.
- What the team is working on today
- Priorities and outcomes
Don’t list every little thing that you are working on as a separate agenda item. Stick to the work that is contributing to the project’s big picture. This is a good time to think about the impact of your work outside your group.
- Road blocks
- Missing information
- Follow up meetings
The problem solving part of the huddle will save your morning sanity. Ask your group if they need help completing their work. If they are running into road blocks or missing any information, take note and address it after the huddle. If you find one of your agenda items is quickly becoming a time suck. Stop team members where they are and make note that a follow up meeting is needed. All problems cannot and should not be solved in the huddle.
Huddles are more effective when they happen regularly. Frequency can be adjusted based on the intensity and pace of your work. It might seem counter-intuitive to add more huddles when work is ramping up, but I find that these short check-ins are a great way to stay on track and make sure your core team is marching to the same drumbeat all day.