Nearly everyone is familiar with a “huddle.” It is the quick meeting that the quarterback holds with his offense before they run a play. It keeps everyone on the same page and communicates vital information before things get crazy. In Verne Harnish’s book, “The Rockefeller Habits”, he talks about the importance of having huddles with your team at your company. I also believe that they are a very important tool in running your firm and when you get them right, they can be powerful. However, I have also seen firms get them wrong and they can be tedious, boring and sap energy from the office. Here are some tips and strategies for implementing huddles and getting them right at your firm:
1. Start and end on time. Huddles are meant to be quick, 10-15 minutes, most of the time everyone is standing up, and they need to keep moving. Starting them on time, keeping them on track, and making sure that they finish on time keeps the energy alive. The purpose is to improve communication, recognize and reward good things going on in the firm, acknowledge areas where the firm needs to improve, and to keep people on track with what is important. It is not a place to solve problems or troubleshoot issues. Those items need to be taken “offline” and addressed after the huddle.
2. Keep the energy up. Make it fun, give it some energy and get more than one person talking. It is a chance to let people know the exciting things going on at the firm, great results you are getting for your clients, feedback from clients, and great things people are doing. If none of those things are going on at your office, you have bigger issues than running a huddle. They are going on and this is a great place to highlight and recognize them. This builds your culture and encourages the vibe you want to cultivate.
3. Find a frequency that works for you. Verne Harnish recommends having huddles on a daily basis. I think that is a good frequency when you are working to get them off the ground because it gives you more chances to change things up and see what works. However, for most law firms I have worked with, after the initial period, a weekly huddle seems to work best. It prevents it from getting stale and seems to accomplish its purpose. I would not recommend going to anything less frequent than once a week.
4. Don’t be afraid to make changes. Find a rhythm that works for you. There will be things that don’t work (lots at the beginning) and if they are not a good fit, then change it up. It took our firm, and many firms that I work with, several tries to get their huddle right. But if the format is a drag or it is not serving its purpose, make changes to get it right. Make it your own.
There are a lot of upsides to getting this right. I think huddles play a big role in proactively shaping your culture, in improving client service, and building a better team. If you have never tried having huddles at your office, these tips will help you get started. If you have tried them in the past and they have not worked, some of these tips may help you get it right.