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Karin And David’s Leadership Articles

A Great Team Huddle Keeps Your Team Focused and Productive

A great team huddle can change the game by providing needed focus, prioritization, and a quick touch-base to build trust and connection. Here are 4 ways to make your next team huddle great.

  1. Set a clear intention
  2. Structure your topics
  3. Prepare provocative questions
  4. End with a key action recap

Why Team Huddles Work

When Karin was in her sales exec role at Verizon, she would often walk into the back door of a store to find her highest performing team huddled just before the store opened, talking about their plans for the day.

When she walked in the back door of the lower performing stores at the same time of the day, everyone was off doing their own thing.

We’ve seen this trend play out time and time again…in contact centers, sales teams, engineering teams, PMOs…

Show us a group of team leaders who share the same role, and we guarantee that the ones with the best results have mastered the art of the team huddle.

Of course, the best front-line leaders are doing a lot of things right. A great team huddle is just part of the cocktail. But we’ve never met a high-performing team where the team leader didn’t include a great team huddle as part of their operating plan.

Team huddles keep your team connected, focused, and ready to win. They show your team you’re in it with them, ready to guide and support. And, chances are you can quickly solve some easy-to-fix frustrations which will immediately reduce stress.

How to Make Your Team Huddle Great

1. Set a clear intention

When a basketball coach calls a timeout and huddles the team, she knows EXACTLY why.

She doesn’t start with “How’s everyone doing?” “Does anyone have anything they want to share?”

Ask yourself “What’s the most important message I want my team to take away from this huddle, and how will I know they’ve got it?”

2. Structure your topics

Another big mistake we see with team huddles is they lack structure.

To make your team huddle effective and efficient, pick a few topics and prepare what you need in advance.

If you will review results, pick the ones you want to hit and the most important behaviors you want your team to focus on this week. “Sales results are down this month,

I really need everyone to hustle” is not nearly as impactful as “Our sales are soft on X product across the board, except for Laura and Drew, who have doubled their sales this month. Can you each share about what you’re doing?”

A few topics that work well in a quick team huddle (pick just a few each time)

  • Reinforce your MIT priorities for the week.
  • Review results and the “So what?” behind them.
  • Provide important updates (that you will also reinforce in other ways).
  • Reinforce key elements from training (have them teach what they learned).
  • Recognize and celebrate contributions.
  • Solicit concerns/invite escalation.
  • Share best practices.
  • Solicit input on ideas.
  • Round robin “What do you need help with and from who?”

3. Prepare some provocative questions

The easiest way to get your team to tune out of a huddle is to do all the talking. Prepare a few provocative questions (it’s great to send them out in advance, so your people have time to think through their answers)

. You can even text the questions in advance. You might also consider starting your huddle with these meaningful icebreaker questions. 

A few questions to spark conversation

  • What are you hearing from our customers?
  • How do you think we can fix ___?
  • What specific help do you need this week?
  • What’s getting in the way?

4. End With a Key Action Recap

effective team meetings

click the image to download the team huddle planner

Check For Understanding

Just because you’ve said something doesn’t mean that you’ve communicated. Has your team picked up what you put down? For any key message, be sure to do a check for understanding where the team shares back what they’ve heard.

Recap and Reinforce

Just as with any meeting, end with the simple magic meeting formula: “Who will do what, by when, and how will we know?”

Done well, a team huddle can serve as a remarkable way to keep your team focused on what matters most.

Effective Team Huddles: Download the Planner

 

Your turn

virtual online leadership trainingWhat are your best practices for a remarkable team huddle?

If you’re looking to improve team communication, you might also try our virtual and hybrid team assessment and check out our new Team Accelerator Program.

For more practical tools for leading a high-performing team see: Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul

 

5 Comments

  1. Fred Schrader

    Haha, I actually had to idea that this kind of get-together is called a “huddle”. Might be because I’m not from the US, but the word was completely new to me. 🙂

    Anyway, thanks for the great list!

    Reply
    • Karin Hurt

      Thanks so much, Fred. It’s always fun to hear differences in practices and what they’re called in various parts of the world. Where are you based? And, I’m curious, what would you call it?

      Reply
  2. J.R.

    In the Army I’ve always had a morning “stand-up” with my staff. It’s an opportunity for me to put out some quick guidance, and then each of my deputies has an opportunity to identify any issues or key events. The main ground rule is that we actually stand (hence the name), and it is kept brief. No more than 5-10 minutes.

    Reply
    • Karin Hurt

      J.R. Thanks so much for sharing! I’m glad to hear your stand-ups are working so well for you. Thanks!

      Reply
  3. Luisa Martin-Miller

    This is great information, especially now with remote working!

    In the company I work for, we do weekly stand-up meetings where all the team shares briefly what they are working on and share any challenges they might be going through. This practice keeps us focused and connected, which is quite important nowadays.

    Reply

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Karin Hurt And David Dye author photo

Karin Hurt and David Dye

Karin Hurt and David Dye help human-centered leaders find clarity in uncertainty, drive innovation, and achieve breakthrough results. As CEO and President of Let’s Grow Leaders, they are known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. Karin and David are the award-winning authors of five books including, Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. David Dye is a former executive and elected official. Karin and David are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells – building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.

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