Regularly scheduled meetings on production or safety, for example, are always important. But sitting around a conference table can lead to relaxing and chatting, which are good for camaraderie and morale but can run a meeting off track. To improve focus and create a team atmosphere, Rich Critchfield, owner of Critchfield Construction, in Somerset, Pa., began holding “huddle meetings.”

Peter Hoey

Just as in football — without the back patting — Critchfield pulls his office staff together at least three days a week for 10 or 15 minutes. “We’re all on a team, but sometimes we don’t talk to each other,” Critchfield says. “This is a way of getting everyone together ... to get the pulse of what’s going on at the moment and what everyone’s priorities are.” The meeting is purposely short. Everyone stands. During the winter, huddles are on the porch or in the shop. “It makes it pointed. No one is gabbing,” he says.

Critchfield sees himself as the QB but says that he doesn’t always lead the meeting. Staff members bring their standard operating and procedure manuals along to tweak processes, and individuals arrange meetings with others over particular issues.

Critchfield likes the immediacy of the huddle. “We run some plays, see how they work. If we didn’t make a first down we huddle again and come up with a new way to do something. Everyone can hear it live as we’re living it,” he says.

—Stacey Freed, senior editor, REMODELING.