The Importance of Individual Huddles

Chances are you’re pretty familiar with the concept, but in case you aren’t, a one-on-one (1:1) is a 30-60 minute meeting between a manager and their employee that is held weekly or bi-weekly. The purpose of the meeting is to connect with your employee and collaborate on items that require focused attention.

In football, the huddle is known as a moment when a team rallies into a circle to strategize, motivate and celebrate. Typically, the captain of the team will lead the huddle and inspire teammates to achieve success. Huddles hold a certain power when it comes to the psyche of the team. When translated to an individual level, the same can be said for 1:1 meetings. In the workplace, one-on-ones have the power to transform employees and business outcomes, but they have to be approached in the right way.

Why Huddle?

For starters, as their manager, you are also your employee’s mentor. In the great game of business, it is important to not lose sight of your role on the team. Imagine the ’85 Bears without Da Coach himself, Mike Ditka. “Somebody said to define a leader, and so I said a leader must see the need, envision a plan, empower the team for action. Leaders are guys who don’t tell people how to do things; they show people how to do things.” 1:1s are more than delegation meetings, individual huddles give you the opportunity to have honest conversations, build trust and model leadership.

How to Huddle

It is über-important to come to every meeting prepared. Ask your staff to write their own agendas and allow them to tell you what’s important. Set a deadline of when you expect to have their agenda in hand so you can review their points ahead of time. The success of your meeting will largely depend on you. Get into the right frame of mind by:

  • Coming to the table ready to listen
  • Being curious, not confrontational
  • Being present
  • Measuring progress, not perfection

Before you go into the meeting, mentally prepare yourself for an effective and meaningful meeting. Review the agenda, craft some great questions, release any personal judgment and remember the big picture: working together will improve client service, inspire your staff and make you more profitable.

Here are a few questions you can ask during your huddle to encourage momentum:

  1. What progress have you made toward your goals?
  2. Are there any roadblocks you need help with?
  3. Do you have any feedback for me?

What Not to Do

Culture fit plays a huge role in how managers and employees communicate and get along. My best advice on this subject is to be transparent about your expectations for mutual respect. If you have behavioral or insubordination issues, get Human Resources involved before it affects other team members or your business.

The bottom line is, one-on-ones should be a positive experience for both parties and help increase the effectiveness of the employee and their work product. Here are some parting tips on what not to do:

  • Don’t have your huddle in the same place every time. If you are able, change up your location every once in a while. This could mean taking a walk or grabbing a cup of coffee.
  • Don’t skip meetings. Do your best to prioritize these meetings and reschedule, or offer to have the huddle “online.” Ask your staff to submit their agendas via email, even if you can’t meet to discuss.
  • Don’t waste time on status updates – there is a time and a place, regularly via email. Encourage your team members to let you know what keeps them from doing their job and enjoying it. Individual huddles are a great opportunity to uncover things that affect employee retention.

Being a good manager requires you to be invested in your people. Individual huddles are a great way to build rapport with your team and groom the next generation of leaders in your firm.  If you want to learn more tips on effective leadership or want to know how to ask better questions, sign up to receive our blog posts. (Hint: we have a blog post coming on this topic!)

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