Time Management

What your law firm can learn from the National Championship game tonight.

January 12, 2015

Are you ready for some football? Whether you’re rooting for the Ducks or the Buckeyes tonight, there is an important lesson you can take from the game. Neither team has a chance of winning if they don’t know how to huddle.

Huddles keep a team focused. They are a way to make sure everyone is on the same page. Huddles let you plan your next move. They keep you moving forward. And huddles work the same way in your office.

If you’re like most attorneys you’re dealing with far more interruptions that you need to  – or should – during any given day.  In fact, your entire team is dealing with more interruptions than they should.  If you want to increase your effectiveness and productivity, you’ve got to limit the needless interruptions you deal with each day.

How?  By having regular team meetings or huddles. Why huddles?  Just like in football – huddles are quick. Just like in football – everyone stands up.  Stand-up meetings are short meetings!

Just a few steps to prepare the team for huddles:

1.WHY are we doing this? Introduce team members to the objectives of the huddle.  – To have a clear understanding of what each of us is working on, to have the opportunity to ask and answer questions, and readjust daily priorities, if necessary.

2.HOW do huddles work? Train team members in huddle basics.  Make sure everyone is familiar with the short huddle agenda below. Without this common understanding of (and adherence to) the agenda across the team, huddles can become unproductive.

3. WHAT will our huddles look like? Decide on key logistics and specifics of your implementation of huddles. Where will the huddles take place? What time? Are you actually going to be standing? (I recommend this.) Fines for late arrival – i.e. money in a pot that can be given to a charity or used to take the team out to lunch?

4.CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT. After you’ve conducted a few huddles and every few weeks thereafter, debrief with your team.  Decide collectively what aspects of your huddles should be continued, improved or abandoned.

Huddle Basics
“The purpose is not to meet . . . it is to improve.” – Joe Ely

  • Every day.
  • Same time; same place.
  • Keep them SHORT!  10 minutes max.
  • Involve your key people.
  • Bring batched questions – simple questions answered during the meeting, others taken offline after.

 Meeting Agenda – The 3 Questions

  • What did I accomplish yesterday?  Keeps the team focused and allows for acknowledgment.  Did you accomplish what you planned to or were you taken off task?
  • What are the Top 3 things I plan to accomplish today:  This is where work can be reprioritized, if necessary.
  • What issues are getting in my way?  This question can uncover processes that can be improved and allows for asking batched questions.

There’s one more great benefit from huddles – a stronger team.  Regular huddles allow everyone to know what everyone else is working on and see the contribution each person makes to the firm.  Give huddles a try and let me know how they work for you.

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