Making the Most of Check In Meetings with Employees
The very best managers and team leaders are those who check-in with their team members on a regular basis. Yet even experienced leaders can miss opportunities for employee engagement and success without a great game plan for these conversations. Here’s how managers can make the most of their check in meetings with employees.
Team member check-ins are often launched with an announcement of a “new way of doing things” which rarely sticks long-term. For both managers and employees, this experience will feel awkward for a while. Unfortunately, many quit check-ins before they become consistent.
In order to have successful team member check-ins, consistency needs to happen first. By developing a habit of regular conversations, the clumsiness of new check-ins will give way to trust and excitement that is required for growth and improvement. Leaders starting (or restarting) check-ins should worry less about what results are we getting from this exercise and more about how often we are completing this exercise. Just like physical exercise, results come from consistent effort over sustained periods of time rather than extreme effort on occasion.
Team member check-ins also need to happen on a regular basis in order to help job performance. Unfortunately, 76 percent of employees report that their performance is formally reviewed by their manager once a year or less according to Gallup. And deep down, we all know that a one-hour conversation couldn’t possibly increase performance for an entire year.
I like to have weekly check-ins with those who I’m coaching. With one-hour weekly conversations, there is ample time and space to discuss all of the things we need to cover (more on that in a minute) and frequent enough to responsively adjust to changes as they arise. Instead of a boss reviewing last year’s performance, I’m a coach helping performance for the next play of the game.
Nobody is perfect. So when we check-in with the people we lead, the goal shouldn’t be to dissect what mistakes have been made in the past because there is nothing that can be done to solve them. In the same way, reviewing what was accomplished since the last check-in isn’t helpful either. That’s because the goal is to increase future performance. To do so requires focusing on the future rather than the past.
I prefer to discuss what will be accomplished in the coming weeks, months, and years. On a weekly basis, asking about when and how work will be completed is key to realizing performance. By anticipating obstacles, team leaders can identify opportunities to provide materials, equipment, information, or support to prevent issues from occurring. And by forecasting months and years into the future, employees can feel that they’re working towards a significant goal and growing their career in a direction that will bring them fulfillment. This is where professional and personal development can be explored and encouraged.
For too long, team member check-ins have focused solely on work. Employees today want to be valued for more than just their contribution and team leaders can build successful teams by caring for people holistically. We all know that big issues in our personal life can hinder our performance at work, so creating a place to discuss them in our check-ins is how we can help people as people.
I love Gallup’s model of well-being which identifies five areas in our lives that are interconnected and inseparable: Career, Financial, Social, Community, and Physical. All five areas of well-being should be discussed with team members to ensure they can be their best selves both at work and in life. When team leaders help people find success in all five areas, they become trusted mentors who care and receive the best possible performance from their people.
Starting check in meetings with employees the right way might be difficult and awkward sometimes, but it is the only way to provide the support and encouragement that people need to be their best.
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