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The Top 10 Commandments of Pre-Shift Huddles

It’s only been relatively recently that the huddle has made its way from the playing field to the business workplace, but it has proven to be just as effective in settings as diverse as the military, healthcare, and restaurants as it has always been in sports.

Now it’s reported that, no matter the industry, employers who consistently use daily huddles realize increases in both productivity and profits due to the marked improvement in communications, focus, and morale huddles deliver. Simply put, huddles remind employees every day why they and their jobs are important while also making sure everyone is on the same page.

Leading an effective huddle, however, calls for a completely different strategy than used for the weekly staff meeting. Here then are The Top 10 Commandments of Pre-Shift Huddles:

I. Thou shalt keep your huddles short. No longer than 10 minutes and even shorter would be better. To this end, start on time every time with everyone standing and ready to go as soon as the huddle is over.

II. Thou shalt make attendance mandatory. No ifs, ands, or buts.

III. Thou shalt standardize the agenda. It might take a few weeks to hit upon the formula that works best for your team, but once you do, prep time will be minimized and everyone will relax because they know what to expect.

IV. Thou shalt accentuate the positive. What good things happened the day or shift before? What goals were met?

V. Thou shalt spell out the game plan. Specify the day’s overall objectives and why they are important.

VI. Thou shalt ask questions rather than issue commands. Instead of “We’ve got to do it [better or faster or cheaper],” ask “Does anyone have any ideas about how we could do it [better or faster or cheaper]?”

VII. Thou shalt reinforce a training procedure. “Can someone tell us what we’re to do if…” (If no one can provide the correct answer, the training program/procedure needs fixing.)

VIII. Thou shalt ask for new learning. Do this in the spirit of Neil deGrasse Tyson who says: “I love it when I make a mistake because it means I learned something new that day.”

IX. Thou shalt ask for questions. Questions are the key to clarification. Get even more group participation by asking if someone else in the group would like to provide the answer.

X. Thou shalt summarize and then wrap it up with some fanfare. Tell them what you told them in one sentence and then lead a cheer or have someone share an inspiring quote or recite the organization’s mission statement in unison. Just make sure participants leave fired up and energized.

Certified Speaking Professional Mel Kleiman is an internationally recognized consultant, author and speaker/trainer on strategies for finding and keeping the best hourly employees. He is the president of Humetrics, a leading developer of systems, training processes, and tools for recruiting, selecting and retaining the best hourly workforce. Kleiman is the author of five books, including the best-selling "Hire Tough, Manage Easy." For more information, visit, call (713) 771-4401, or email

Mel Kleiman Founder, Humetrics
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