I love football. I love the rivalries. I love the athleticism. I love the energy and spirit of the crowds. But you don’t have to be a die-hard football fan to know that at the beginning of each and every play in the game, the teams huddle up. It’s not because the players want to discuss their weekend plans, trade pie recipes, or talk about the weather. It’s because they know that they need to get on the same level. Reset. Plan their next play.

Your team needs a morning huddle for exactly the same reasons. Think about all the distractions your team members carry into work with them each morning. They’ve got sick pets, dinner plans, kids to pick up, flat tires, vacations coming up, and more. They are mentally loaded down by these distractions.

That’s why you need to take 10 to 15 minutes every morning to get everyone back in the zone, on the same page, and fully prepared for the day ahead. It’s not an option if you want to reach the next level of success — it’s essential.

I’ve been holding morning huddles with my team for a very long time (since there were just three of us working out of a cramped basement). Today, I employ more than 200 team members who still meet regularly in our headquarters lobby. Along the way, I’ve learned a lot about what makes a great morning huddle and what a huge impact it can have on your team’s engagement and results.

1. Attendance and scheduling

It’s important that your entire team is consistently attending each huddle and before the day (and distraction) begins. It does you no good if only a minority is in attendance. If it helps, make the huddle mandatory, or create contests in which only attendees can participate.

2. Increase engagement

This is a great way to increase your team’s engagement. Ask a different person to lead the huddle each day of the week and see who really steps up to the plate. This also gives your top performers a chance to motivate the rest of the team with their energy. But keep it brief — no more than 10 to 15 minutes so that the energy is maintainable.

3. Increase energy and focus

Chances are your entire team isn’t bright-eyed and bushy-tailed every morning. So if they are sitting, there’s no way they’ll stay engaged. Brainstorm ways to get people awake, involved, and moving during the huddle without losing focus.

4. Stay positive

You should never use the morning huddle as a chance to blow off steam or make your team feel bad. If your team didn’t meet their goals last month, that’s OK. Instead of dwelling on what wasn’t done, focus your discussion on ways to improve next month. Try starting the huddle off on a positive note by reading a motivational quote and asking each team member to share a “win” from the day before.

5. Increase strategic thinking

Think of this as your pep rally for the day — the best chance to get your team fired up to provide an amazing experience for your patients. Start by looking over the daily schedule and creating an action plan. Remember, the morning huddle is not a complaint session. It’s an opportunity to encourage your team and get their day started with the right mind-set.

6. Stay focused on goals

The main purpose of your team’s huddle, just like in football, is to discuss the goals and results. “Are we on target?” “What are our biggest obstacles?” Use charts and other visuals to track progress and discuss how to reach goals.

The No. 1 topic that should be discussed at every morning huddle is new patients. New patients are your practice’s bread and butter. Every team member should know your new patient number month-to-date goal and exactly how many new patients you need to stay on track.

We encourage our clients to incorporate a new patient chant in their huddles. Team leaders say, “What do we want?” and the team says, “New patients!” “How many do we want?” Then they shout out “X!” (whatever your goal is for that month). It needs to be that prominent in your office.

In the meantime, make sure you and your team start the day with purpose, focus, and a lot of energy. So, what are you waiting for? Huddle up!