The huddle: How it works and why you should consider it
August 20, 2019 | 12:29 pm CDT

He felt guilty saying it….I want to work less and earn more.

We were sitting in the corner at Starbucks, and I asked him what he really wanted.

He fumbled and mumbled a bit and then, frustrated,  he just threw up his hands and blurted out “… I just want to work less and earn more.

But what he said next really floored me. “... I mean- I feel guilty saying it- but that's what I want Dom…”

I hear the word “guilt” more often that you’d think.

That’s because the owners of most woodwork shops got to where they are now by 100 percent, all-out work ethic. They’ve worked hard, sacrificed everything and now they just can’t believe how big their company has gotten.

I hear things like

  • I started in the garage
  • My first job was my Aunt's house.
  • I started working with my dad in high school and now I’m the owner.

But at some point, these owners start to realize that no matter how hard they work, they aren’t getting ahead. What they did to get here… is holding them here.

Think of an Olympic weightlifter. He has to walk up to that heavy bar and get it over his head- every day.

Now what? A business owner is like that. Where your business is at today is the same thing. You figured out how to get that business- that heavy bar -up over your head and then stand there with it – holding it up. But you physically can’t get it any higher. And, by the way- you’re getting tired of holding it too.

So what’s next? Do you let it crash down - or do you need to build a rack to hold it up for you?

Wow! Imagine building a rack. You’d be able to step back. You could rest. And then you’d be able to figure out how to get that bar even higher!

The good news is that you’re not the first one to tackle this problem. There’s a system to deal with it- and it’s called “the Huddle”.

Just like in football, this meeting is where the team comes together to share quick information before the next play.

In a business we use the huddle to do the same thing. Owners put it in place to increase 2 things. Communication and Accountability.

It’s an on-time, productive, and painless meeting that you hold once a week with all your key staff.  You talk about numbers, who’s doing what, and where people are stuck.

And once you learn how it works, a team of five can complete this meeting in under 13 minutes – and everyone gets to talk at least twice!

Owners love it, because once you have it set up – the owner doesn’t run the meeting. The person running the meeting just follows the agenda and keeps everyone on task.

It’s not a beefing session – as a matter of fact it’s a massive part of putting a winning culture in place in your business.  Here’s an inside tip – it’s also used to keep family businesses from imploding….

Here are some important things for you to do introduce “the Huddle” to your company.

Know your critical numbers.  These will go on a whiteboard or monitor that everyone can see.

Know exactly who needs to be in this meeting.  The owner, the finance person, your admin, your PM’s and your foreman.

Same old/Same old. This meeting is at the same time of day, in the same place every week.

The meeting starts on time.  It ends on time too.  If your people are frustrated with meetings that go nowhere you’re going to love the Huddle.

The huddle master is in charge- but only of the meeting. The huddle masters job is to keep the meeting on the agenda and on time. If a side conversation starts up, then the huddle master simply redirects the people involved to talk about this immediately after the huddle – but not during it.

Bonus- since the huddle is run by different people, the owner can take a backseat to listen and watch to see what’s going on.   Rotate the huddle master position every week – and you’ll quickly see who runs a better, tighter meeting

The Huddle Agenda. It’s simple- and it’s the same for every meeting.

  • The meeting starts on time
  • Everyone is standing around the whiteboard with their info ready.
  • Welcome everybody to huddle
  • Looking at whiteboard, the HuddleMaster asks everyone for their numbers going around the room one-by-one. (The only thing that can be reported here is numbers. See “Critical Numbers” above)
  • Now, again 1-by-1, going around the room, the HuddleMaster asks for an update on “What’s going on in your department this week?” (In 30 seconds or less per person, just tell me the facts. There’s no complaining,  no finger-pointing,  no blame.)
  • Next, going around the room again, one-by-one the HuddleMaster asks each person “Where are you stuck this week?” (In 30 seconds or less per person, just tell me the facts. There’s no complaining,  no finger-pointing,  no blame.)
  • The meeting ends on-time. We thank everyone and get back to our day
  • Side conversations can now happen

There are a few more tidbits that can be added, but let’s get you started before we get fancy!

I recently introduced this to a 16-man architectural millwork company.  The two partners were run off their feet. Every time they needed a piece of info it took half a day to dig it up.

Now, by coming up with their critical numbers, and creating a simple whiteboard that everyone can see at the weekly huddle – it’s a completely different business.

Out of curiosity I asked them if they would ever stop doing huddle now that they have in place.

The answer…..” Not a #$%^& chance, Dom !

It’s really clear who’s responsible for what and everyone gets their turn to talk.

Since this meeting was started with very clear rules that there is no blame excuses or finger-pointing- its easily the most energetic and positive meeting of the week.

The Huddle is the base of the weight rack. It’s a simple system.

If you’re wondering how to work less and make more then you’ll need to put a lot of simple systems in place – and this is the perfect one to start with.

Author Dominic Rubino is a professional business coach focused on wood product companies. He also hosts the Cabinet Maker Profit System Podcast. Learn more about Dom here:

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About the author
Dominic Rubino

Dominic Rubino is a professional business coach focused on wood product companies. He also hosts the Cabinet Maker Profit System Podcast. Learn more about Dom at