“Micromanager… overbearing… control freak” – let me stop you there. As a manager, these are terms we all fear. We want to help our employees, but we don’t want our employees to resent us for it.
Learning the fine line between giving your employees space while also checking up on them can be difficult. By learning how to run effective check-in meetings with your employees, you can successfully touch base with them and offer them help. At the end of the day, you only want the best for your employees.
- What is a check-in meeting?
- Why are check-ins important?
- How often should you check in on employees?
- The structure of a check-in meeting
- Tips for effective check-in meetings
What is a check-in meeting?
Some managers hold weekly or biweekly one-on-one meetings to review employee engagement and performance. These meetings are important because they keep everyone in check on their annual, quarterly, and monthly goals.
But what about day-to-day progress? Implementing quick 10-15 minute check-in meetings is a great way for managers to stay up-to-date and help employees with their daily work.
When done correctly, check-ins can foster collaboration and teamwork. So, let’s find out how…
Why are check-ins important?
Having regular check-ins with your team members are important because they create relationships, release tension, teach communication styles, and save time at formal 1:1 meetings.
1 Create relationships
Bonding with your team members is an important part of being a good manager. Asking simple questions like “what did you do on the weekend?” or “share one thing you’ve done outside of work this past week” can be a great way to create relationships with your team.
“High-performance managers are involved in their employees’ work lives.”
– Annamarie Mann and Ryan Darby
2 Release tension
Team members can feel stressed going into one-on-one meetings with their superiors. Therefore, to release this tension it is important to remind your team members that these check-in meetings are for their benefit.
It is also important to remind your team members that this is an opportunity for them to reach out to you and ask for help if they need it. Being overly stressed in the workplace will only produce negative results, therefore, ensuring your team members are not overwhelmed with work is important.
Use a meeting management tool like Fellow to have a collaborative meeting agenda so there are no surprises during the meeting and everyone can come prepared.
“If you’re feeling the symptoms of burnout, it’s important that you take them seriously — don’t assume they’re temporary and will go away in time. Health experts agree that burnout really does put your physical and mental health in jeopardy, and if left untreated could lead to more significant consequences.”
– Ron Carucci
3 Learning communication styles
Learning how to communicate best is a very important skill. For example, you probably communicate with your team members differently at a bar for after-work drinks than you do in the office while working.
Similarly, learning to communicate in different types of meetings and situations is important. For example, in a company-wide team meeting, you may not feel comfortable sharing personal information that is hindering your work performance. However, in a check-in meeting, if you are comfortable sharing, this would be the time to let your superior know any hardships you are facing outside of work. This may encourage your superior to lessen your workload or give you some needed time off. This may also be an opportunity to learn how to communicate in different situations – in this example, sympathetically.
Overall, check-in meetings provide both you and your superior experience with different communication styles, helping everyone learn new skills.
4 Save time
Long meetings that seem to never end are neither productive nor time-worthy. Therefore, one benefit of check-in meetings is that they make longer meetings (such as formal one-on-one meetings) shorter. This is because you and your superior have already had the opportunity to talk and catch up on important information, therefore, these steps can be either skipped or condensed in other meetings.
Furthermore, check-in meetings are a lot quicker than other types of meetings, so they do not cut into your valuable time as much.
How often should you check in on employees?
Managers who check in on their employees too often are typically labeled as micromanagers. However, managers that don’t check in on their employees enough may be labeled as bad managers. Therefore, finding the right balance between too often and not often enough is the key. So, what is the right balance?
It is first important to identify your team’s needs. For example, for a smaller, more intimate company, weekly check-ins should suffice. But, for a larger company, daily check-ins may work better. It is also important to consider the type of environment your employees are working in. For example, you may want to do daily check-ins for those in a remote environment and weekly check-ins for those physically at the office.
The benefits of daily check-ins:
- Updates managers on what employees are doing daily
- Ensures team members are always staying busy
- Allows managers to help employees if they have questions on their task for the day
The benefits of weekly check-ins:
- Updates managers on what employees have been working on over the past week
- Updates managers on what employees are planning on working on this coming week
- Gives employees space to come to managers with help/questions if needed
Whether you decide that your team would benefit from daily or weekly check-ins, it is important to follow a meeting agenda.
The structure of a check-in meeting
Following this daily meeting agenda will ensure that your daily check-in meetings are productive and time-worthy:
Structuring your check-in meeting to fit your team’s needs is an important step if you want to achieve productive meetings. To successfully structure your meeting, we recommend creating a recurring meeting agenda template. These templates will serve as a guide for what you will be discussing and how long each point will take.
After you have found a template that works for you and your team, you should save this template so that you can use it for future check-in meetings. This will save you time in the future as you will not need to re-create agenda templates.
Another great tip is to have multiple templates to choose from. This is because what works best for one person may not work best for another, therefore, ensuring you structure each template to the employee’s needs will give you the best chance of having a productive check-in meeting.
Tips for effective check-in meetings
Although check-in meetings are typically short, they still require a lot of planning. An unplanned meeting is a recipe for disaster, therefore, knowing how to plan effective check-ins is important.
Here are 3 tips for productive check-in meetings:
1 Stick to the meeting agenda
Sticking to your meeting agenda is very important to avoid going off-topic and over time. This will also ensure that your meeting is brief and to the point, only addressing the necessary points.
2 End with clear takeaways
Nothing is worse than ending a meeting and feeling just as confused as you were when the meeting started. Additionally, in check-in meetings, managers usually give constructive feedback, so if your employee does not grasp the feedback, they cannot fix their mistakes. Therefore, ensuring that your employees understand the key takeaways of their check-in meetings is important. Before the meeting ends, make sure that these takeaways are documented clearly as action items or talking points within the meeting note in Fellow.
3 Ensure your employees feel like the meeting was helpful
One of the biggest mistakes a manager can make in a check-in meeting is not providing helpful feedback. Providing helpful feedback lets the employees know what they can work on next time, shows that you appreciate their work, and helps both you and the employee understand how they are doing.
A tip to know if your employees find your check-ins helpful is to ask them for feedback about the meeting. Simply asking them to fill out a questionnaire is a great way to see what they felt was helpful and what they felt was not helpful so that moving forward, you can ensure your meetings are productive.
Conducting check-ins – whether daily or weekly – is very important for a couple of reasons. First, they help managers increase employee engagement. Trust me, we know that it is easy, especially in remote environments, to be unengaged. Therefore, finding ways to socialize and engage with your team is very important.
Furthermore, implementing check-ins creates a fostering environment that encourages team building. To be a successful manager, your team needs to trust you, and being able to create relationships with your employees will ensure this.
“One of the most effective trust-building strategies is to create a personal connection. That’s especially true for managers.”
– Carolyn O’Hara