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Start Your Day With A Team Huddle To Beat Burnout Before It Beats You

Written by: Paul DeChant, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Follow these six steps in a daily huddle to readily adapt and thrive in your fast-paced, rapidly changing, work environment.

The problem with burnout is the workplace, not the worker.

When you understand this basic premise, you can reduce your risk of burnout by putting your focus on the real problem. Blaming yourself for not being resilient enough is misguided and does you no good. Managing the drivers of burnout in your workplace puts you in control and makes your day go better.

The Six Drivers of Burnout

Christina Maslach, Ph.D., professor emerita from University of California Berkeley, identified the six drivers of burnout:

  • Work overload – having an overwhelming amount of work to do

  • Lack of control – unable to make your own decisions about what to do or how to do it

  • Insufficient reward – not just financial compensation, but intangible rewards as well

  • Breakdown of community – lacking social support due to lack of time or the forced isolation of WFH

  • Absence of fairness – microaggressions or discriminatory treatment based on race, gender, or country of origin

  • Conflicting values – your personal values are not aligned with the values of the organization

When these dominate your work, you experience the manifestations of burnout:

  • Emotional exhaustion – having done all that you can, you’ve got nothing left to give

  • Depersonalization, better known as cynicism – by which you protect yourself from your organization or your clients

  • Inefficacy – as though what you do really is not worthwhile and does not make a difference

It’s bad enough if you end the day feeling this way, and worse if you are one of the significant number of people who start their day with these feelings.

Let’s talk about one change you can make to reverse that trend and manage the drivers of burnout.

The Daily Huddle

One simple and effective approach is to set aside 15 minutes every morning for a team huddle. Not just any huddle, but a huddle with intention, that follows a plan, consistently, every day. That consistency creates the stability that allows you to manage the chaos.

The Key Components of a Daily Huddle

The Setting:

  • Huddles should be done standing up: This is not an extended meeting where everyone settles in with a beverage and a snack, planning to be there for a while. You are here to get stuff done!

  • Gather around a visual management board: Key information should be visible so team members can see what’s working well and where potential problems are.

  • The team leader: At first this should be the manager, who has had training to facilitate the huddles. Over time as team members become more comfortable with the process and each other, anyone on the team should be able to lead the huddle.

The Process – here are 6 key steps:

  • Recognition: Start with one minute of recognitions – something someone did yesterday that made a difference in a co-worker’s day or celebrating a personal/family event like a birthday or anniversary.

  • Updates: Share any new information that everyone needs to know, quickly. If there are a lot of questions, take those offline.

  • Capacity/Demand Check: Does the team have what it needs – staffing, supplies, functioning equipment – to handle the demand for the day? If so, great! If not, you can make contingency plans, so you are not caught off-guard in the middle of the day.

  • Problem-solving: What went wrong yesterday that you don’t want to go wrong today? There are so many little problems that crop up – supplies misplaced, calendar conflicts, software glitches, etc. – that can be avoided by fixing the underlying issues.

I call these “pebbles in your shoe”, those little things that in and of themselves are not showstoppers but add up to make your life less joyful, or frankly irritate the heck out of you.

When such a problem happens, you may swear you’ll never let it happen again, but by the end of a busy day you’ve forgotten about it, until it happens again next week. Then you’re even more upset.

If instead, you put a note on the huddle board, the team can get to work on a fixing the problem the next morning.

  • Metric Tracking: Every company tracks performance metrics, at least at the company level. Performance on these organization-wide metrics results from the actions of the front-line workers. By focusing on one metric each day at the local level, checking to see if it’s on track or off, and developing plans to correct metrics that are off, performance across the company improves.

  • Leader Standard Work: The manager briefly describes their plan for checking in with team members that day, asking questions regarding how the work is going and how the manager can help. This simple act has deep impact letting team members know that their manager cares about them.

There you have it. Six steps in 15 minutes to start your day positively and help you get through your day with less hassle. And you’re reducing those drivers of burnout head on right at from start:

  • Recognition mitigates insufficient reward

  • Updates minimize lack of control

  • Capacity/Demand Checks reduce the risk of work overload and enhance community and fairness

  • Problem-Solving brings the community together and reduces work overload

  • Metric Tracking reduces values conflicts

  • Leader Standard Work enhances fairness

But wait, you say, “This won’t work for our team.” You may be thinking:

  • You’re on a virtual team No worry, you can use a virtual whiteboard and sit or stand at your monitor. Just don’t shut off your camera, at least for these 15 fabulous minutes!

  • Your team is spread across time zones – It’s OK if the huddle doesn’t happen right at the start of everyone’s day. It’s more important to have as many people as possible attend, which may well mean adapting the time of day, even when everyone is in the same time zone but on different schedules.

  • There’s no way we’ll get through all this in 15 minutes – You’re right, you won’t the first time you try it. But with practice and discipline you will. Take it a day at a time.

o Some teams decide to get through all six steps no matter how long it takes.

o Others choose to stop at 15 minutes even though they’re only at step 3.

Your team will figure out what works best in your circumstance.

What I can promise you is that once you have this working, that “extra” 15 minutes a day will more that make up for the time it takes, as you experience a better day, with less frustration, more connection to what’s meaningful to you, and better camaraderie with your co-workers.

If you have questions, or run into problems as you are getting started, feel free to reach out to me at . I’m happy to help.

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!


Paul DeChant, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Dr. Paul DeChant, MD, MBA is passionate about making workplaces better places to work. He is uniquely positioned to support your organization’s efforts to reduce team member burnout and enhance professional fulfillment while creating a culture of organizational well-being and resilience.

Dr. DeChant is an experienced CEO, leadership coach, keynote speaker, author, and recognized expert on management system and culture improvement, with a proven five-step process to identify, treat, and prevent burnout for your team members and your organization.

He is a knowledgeable and dynamic presenter who engages audiences all over the world with his unique perspective on addressing burnout’s root causes, providing you with new insights and opportunities to address one of the most significant challenges in business today.

Always prepared with relevant content, he also brings humor and a contagious passion for making a difference in the work lives of all people, from the front-line production or service worker to the most seasoned C-suite executive.



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