Current Issue
This Month's Print Issue

Follow Fast Company

We’ll come to you.

How To Hold A Productive Meeting In Seven Minutes Or Less

This "daily huddle" formula can boost your team's energy, identify problems, and keep morale high in lightning time.

How To Hold A Productive Meeting In Seven Minutes Or Less
[Photo: via Shutterstock]

What's a "daily huddle"? Simple: It's a short, approximately seven-minute, all-company meeting designed to raise your group's energy level and make sure everyone is on the same page. Here's how they work.

Everyone On Their Feet

The first couple of minutes you'll spend sharing good news before diving into the numbers, followed by the daily forecast, then the developmental update, then airtime to discuss any missing systems and frustrations, before finally wrapping it up with a cheer.

Needless to say, daily huddles work great for sales teams, but you can take this basic approach and adapt it to the your own team's rhythms and goals—as long as you can pinpoint what a successful day looks like for your team members, you can host a productive, seven-minute standing meeting every single day.

There’s no sitting down during these meetings; everyone stands up because it forces people to move and think a little faster, without the luxury of getting too comfortable. The best time of day to run these meetings is around 11:00 a.m. or 2:00 p.m., because this is when energy levels start to ebb. Part of your goal with a daily huddle is to boost those energy levels. You may even choose to run one from 10:55 a.m. to 11:02 a.m. and again from 1:55 p.m. to 2:02 p.m.

Your Seven Minutes Start Now

You want to spend the first two minutes sharing good news and telling the group what is going well in the company. Maybe that means a certain business area hit a goal, a project was accomplished, someone started a new job with the company, or customers provided nice feedback. Always be hard-hitting and moving forward, full of spirit. This really raises the energy level of the group.

The next aspect of the meeting involves looking at the numbers—whatever your numbers may be. This is an opportunity to compare the team's performance in real terms with the goal you've set. Again, this rallies the troops and keeps the energy high. After sharing the numbers, it’s important to explain what they mean. I like to put those numbers in perspective by measuring them against our quarterly and annual goals.

After that, one area of the business should provide an update. I tend to list all the business areas in the company and then cycle through them over the course of one to two weeks. One day, marketing will give its updates, and the next time is the finance team’s turn, then IT, and so on through each business area. This gives everyone a chance to hear, learn from, and take the pulse of what's going on throughout the company.

But there's a formula that helps keep things brief and to the point. Every update is done the same way, and each business area answers the same questions:

  • What are you working on?
  • What were you working on last week?
  • What are you stuck on?
  • Is there anybody that you’re hiring?

The next phase involves the team sharing any missing systems and venting their frustrations. This is a time for people to speak up about an area that’s apparently broken or where they’re stuck. Bear in mind, this is not the venue to solve the problem. This is the space for people to address the problems they face.

When someone shares a frustration, then someone else raises their hand and says, "I will take it," meaning they will take ownership and see to it that the problem gets fixed. Later that day, week, or month, that person will come back to the group and report on the issue to explain how it was addressed and handled. This is a no-blame environment. In a growing company, stuff happens, and it’s up to the team to fix and address it in stride.

Finally, the seven-minute meeting finishes with a cheer based on something that was born out of the good news shared at the start of the meeting. I know, it’s a bit hokey, but it really does work. It's similar to the breaking of a football huddle, where the players throw their hands into the center of the group and yell, "Ready, break!" It’s a positive way to send people back to their desks.

Admittedly, the first daily huddle you host may feel dorky and awkward. It did when I ran 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, but your people will grow to love it. In fact, at 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, it’s still used today. Here's an example of a seven-minute daily huddle at the company:

This article is adapted from Meetings Suck: Turning One of the Most Loathed Elements of Business into One of the Most Valuable by Cameron Herold, best-selling author and founder of COO Alliance, which helps COOs become better leaders. It is reprinted with permission.

Related Video: Are You Being A Good Negotiator?

The Fast Company Innovation Festival