Strengthen Your Handoffs—Connect Well

Have you ever watched a relay race and noticed how they pass the baton to the next runner? Getting the handoff right is often what wins the race. Our daughters both ran track during high school and the relays were my favorite part of the very long meets! The handoff isn’t easy to accomplish and requires practice and attention. Both runners’ hands have to be in just the right place at the right time while running fast, and the handoff is blind for the one who is receiving the baton.

We’re all in a relay race all day long. The way we connect with others in a clear and meaningful way is our own “handoff” and can make or break our own performance and even our entire team’s performance.

Think about your own conversations, meetings, connections and touch points throughout your day. Each one has a Handoff that has the potential to be clear and on-point or sloppy and misunderstood—and of course many possibilities in between!

Are you taking great care in addressing your Handoffs with others?

  • How would your colleagues describe your Handoffs?

  • How are you using your own natural talents and strengths to have winning Handoffs?

  • Are you confident that you have not dropped or bobbled the baton?

Be You. Using your own natural talents rather than mirroring someone else’s talents will be much more effective in every Handoff.

  • Is being more concise going to help you and help others?

  • Would asking more questions to fully understand a next step be helpful—before taking action?

  • Is it helpful for you to restate exactly what a teammate is asking you to do?

  • Have you given your team a timeline and expectations that they fully understand?

Think about your own natural talents, how YOU show up, what actions work best for YOU, and then focus in on the results you’re aiming for. Here are three simple things you can do right now to address and improve your Handoffs in your everyday conversations.

1. Identify ONE key area where your Handoff makes the most difference

Here are some ideas to get your brain going and help you come up with your own Handoff Opportunity!

  • Asking questions

  • Listening and really hearing

  • Scheduling meetings

  • Reviewing next steps

  • Asking for help & support

  • Connecting genuinely with others

  • Asking for clarification

2. Let others know what you’re up to and that you’re asking for help!

You might start like this: “Sometimes I miss the details on next steps in our work together so I’m working on this. Think of our communication on next steps as a Handoff in a relay race and we’re on the same team. I know it’s corny but the visual works for me! Can you let me know if the Handoff is clean and if you have the baton when we’re talking about next steps?”

3. Listen to the feedback; Listen to understand

When you take this approach and truly listen to the feedback, your Handoffs will improve over time. You will find yourself connecting strong, sometimes gracefully, and meeting people where they are with your natural talents and strengths. As a bonus, others will learn from your modeling and vulnerability.

You will be amazed at how much you will learn from a simple conversation that starts with, “I’m working on strengthening my Handoffs and was wondering if you could give me some feedback.” And then pass the baton.

Cindy helps people and companies tackle their biggest business problems by developing managers into great coaches that win. As a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach, she works with leaders and their companies to build the culture they want, keep their awesome talent, and become nimble. She has loved her work in HR and wellness for over 30 years. In her free time, Cindy can be found spinning, at yoga class, golfing with her husband, visiting their two daughters, or catching up with friends and family.