The 6-minute huddle

The ability to communicate lies at the very heart of every successful leader. It is the essence of getting things done and delivering the four things every employee wants from their boss. (You can find the details on DARTs here)

About ten years ago one of our clients shared a brilliantly simple communication practice with me that increases employee engagement, efficiency and teamwork. We’ve refined it a bit, and people who have adopted it have seen stunning results. It works at every level, from the c-suite to front-line managers, and is particularly effective with companies focused on customer experience.

The awesome bit is that it only takes six minutes out of every day. Here’s how it works:

Six minutes that can transform a team

Every morning (or at the beginning of every shift), gather your direct team for no more than six minutes and follow this formula:

  1. Recognition (1 minute maximum)
    Identify successes from the previous day. Acknowledge specific individuals for specific efforts and wins. This addresses the “A” in DART, and reminds people how much you appreciate what they are bringing to the table.
  2. Education (2.5 minutes maximum)
    Have one of your team do a brief presentation on a specific topic related to your business. It can be about new technologies, industry trends, recent research, etc.. Rotate the presentations through your team. This contributes to the overall knowledge of your team. It addresses both the “T” and “R” in DART. Your team gains new insights and tools, and the presenter experiences your trust in executing the presentation.
  3. Purpose reinforcement (30 seconds maximum)
    Remind your team of their larger purpose, and how they contribute to the organization’s overall mission. This is part of the “D” in DART, and ensures everyone understands why their work is important.
  4. Direction (2 minutes maximum)
    Give them their marching orders. Clearly articulate for each member what your expectations are for the day, and what a win looks like. This is again the “D” in DART. Not only does it set each employee up for success, it ensures that everyone in the team is aware of what the others are doing.
  5. Enthusiasm (All the time)
    Keep the energy level up. You are setting the tone for the day, and if you are uninspiring, your team will be uninspired.

If you care about customer experience, this is ‘required reading.’ Find out why people are raving about The Journey to WOW!

Immutable rules for a successful huddle

For your 6-minute huddle to work, there are some rules you absolutely have to follow. Breaking even one of these rules will defeat the whole purpose:

a) Have a huddle daily
Don’t make this a weekly or monthly thing. If you want results it has to be part of a daily routine. It’s only six minutes. You can afford six minutes.

b) Plan and structure it in advance
If you just try to “wing it” your huddles will fail. I guarantee it. Know what you are going to say in advance. make sure that your presenters have at least a week’s notice.

c) Everyone stands
Take the chairs out of the room. It’s only six minutes, and you want everyone focused.

d) Focus on the positive
This is NOT a “here’s where we messed-up yesterday” forum. If there are any negative things to be said, pick another time and another place.

e) Respect the time
Six minutes is six minutes. Not seven. Not six-and-a-half. Set the timer on your phone to go off. (Do the same for the 2.5 minute presentation). Even if someone is in mid-sentence, cut them off and end the meeting. You will only have to do this once or twice for people to get the idea.

I can’t begin to count how many people have sent me emails about the success they have had with this. But don’t just take my word for it. Try it for a few weeks and see for yourself.


Successful leaders are the ones who set their teams up for success”

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