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A Manager's Guide to Mastering Employee Check-Ins

Mastering Employee Check Ins

Have you been scratch­ing your head try­ing to come up with ways to improve employ­ee engage­ment, boost pro­duc­tiv­i­ty and dri­ve busi­ness growth? If so, you should be look­ing at employ­ee com­mu­ni­ca­tion before any­thing else.

If line man­agers and employ­ees have lit­tle struc­ture to their con­ver­sa­tions and meet one-on-one annu­al­ly for a for­mal appraisal, your busi­ness is miss­ing out on count­less oppor­tu­ni­ties to devel­op employ­ee skills, improve reten­tion and sup­port your great­est asset — your peo­ple. Read on to find out why reg­u­lar employ­ee check-ins are the answer and how man­agers can mas­ter them for incred­i­ble results.

Why Are Employ­ee Check-ins So Important?

Employ­ee check-ins offer sev­er­al ben­e­fits to both staff and man­age­ment teams. These reg­u­lar, infor­mal meet­ings pro­vide the chance to review employ­ee per­for­mance, set goals and mon­i­tor well­be­ing, ensur­ing that staff mem­bers are hap­py, healthy and well-equipped to thrive with­in their roles. Con­sis­tent check-ins pro­mote open com­mu­ni­ca­tion, improve com­pa­ny cul­ture and build pos­i­tive rela­tion­ships between employ­ees and man­agers, help­ing to cre­ate a pos­i­tive work­ing envi­ron­ment that ben­e­fits everyone.

In a sur­vey of HR lead­ers, 89% agreed that ongo­ing peer feed­back and check-ins pos­i­tive­ly impact their organ­i­sa­tions. Data showed that more fre­quent check-ins and a sup­port­ive feed­back envi­ron­ment can effec­tive­ly dri­ve employ­ee growth and devel­op­ment, which in turn has a pos­i­tive impact on per­for­mance and busi­ness growth.

How Often Should Man­agers Check-In with Employees?

We rec­om­mend that man­agers have one-on-one meet­ings with employ­ees at least once a month to ensure they’re shar­ing rel­e­vant, real-time feed­back reg­u­lar­ly. You may find that your teams get the most ben­e­fit from week­ly or bi-week­ly meet­ings — ulti­mate­ly, it’s up to you to exper­i­ment and find out what works for you. You should also give employ­ees the option to request addi­tion­al ad-hoc meet­ings should they face a new chal­lenge and require extra support.

How to Have Pro­duc­tive Check-in Meet­ings Every Time

Keep these expert tips in mind to get the most out of employ­ee check-ins:

Sched­ule Meet­ings in Advance

Although the check-ins them­selves should be pret­ty relaxed, they should be sched­uled ahead of time, just as any for­mal meet­ing would be. Ensure one-to-ones are on the cal­en­dar in advance, so both employ­ee and man­ag­er know what to expect and have time to pre­pare. It’s cru­cial to pri­ori­tise employ­ee check-ins and not let them fall to the way­side dur­ing busy peri­ods. Be sure to always attend as this shows employ­ees that you val­ue and respect their time.

Con­sid­er Talk­ing Points

Dis­cuss with your employ­ee what each check-in will focus on before the meet­ing. It may be that some con­ver­sa­tions are about progress and per­for­mance, while oth­ers cov­er well­be­ing or tack­ling spe­cif­ic chal­lenges. Hav­ing a frame­work in place will give you a help­ful struc­ture to follow.

If you’re new to employ­ee check-ins and unsure what to talk about, take a look at these 7 dis­cus­sion points to cov­er dur­ing per­for­mance con­ver­sa­tions.

Refer Back to Pre­vi­ous Meetings

Show your team that these meet­ings are impor­tant to you by prepar­ing prop­er­ly for each one. Although you may not have a lot of time for prepa­ra­tion, it’ll make a big dif­fer­ence if you can review notes from pre­vi­ous check-ins and refer back to key ques­tions or feedback.

Encour­age Open Communication

One of the key ben­e­fits of reg­u­lar employ­ee check-ins is that they cre­ate an open line of com­mu­ni­ca­tion between man­ag­er and employ­ee. You should make clear to staff mem­bers that these one-to-one meet­ings are a safe place to share con­cerns and speak open­ly, high­light­ing that their opin­ions are val­ued and respected.

Research shows that com­pa­nies effec­tive­ly turn­ing feed­back into action have an 80% employ­ee engage­ment rate, where­as com­pa­nies that don’t only have an engage­ment score of around 40%. Wel­com­ing feed­back and act­ing on it is essen­tial for organ­i­sa­tion­al growth, and infor­mal check-ins pro­vide the per­fect oppor­tu­ni­ty to hear employ­ees’ gen­uine thoughts and feelings.

For com­mu­ni­ca­tion to be tru­ly open, man­agers must also be hon­est. Don’t be afraid to let employ­ees know if you don’t have all the answers — it’s per­fect­ly accept­able to acknowl­edge a ques­tion or request and let them know you’ll get back to them with what they need.

Use Con­ver­sa­tion Starters to Prompt Mean­ing­ful Discussions

Some employ­ees may be more reserved than oth­ers and it’s up to you as a man­ag­er to recog­nise when to lead the con­ver­sa­tion. For an effec­tive meet­ing every time, go armed with open-end­ed ques­tions designed to prompt mean­ing­ful dis­cus­sion. Ask your team mem­bers what they’ve been work­ing on since you last spoke or how they feel about their cur­rent work­load to get the con­ver­sa­tion started.

Pro­vide Support

Reg­u­lar check-ins give man­agers valu­able insight into hur­dles their team faces so they can pro­vide sup­port when need­ed most. Use this time to address issues, give guid­ance and pro­vide reas­sur­ance so employ­ees can leave the meet­ing feel­ing bet­ter equipped to over­come challenges.

Recog­nise Excel­lent Work

Recog­ni­tion is close­ly linked to employ­ee engage­ment and reten­tion. One sur­vey showed that 63% of peo­ple who are recog­nised at work con­sid­er them­selves very unlike­ly” to seek a new job in the next 3 – 6 months, where­as only 11% of those who are nev­er” or rarely” recog­nised feel the same way. Show­ing appre­ci­a­tion for employ­ees’ efforts dur­ing your check-in meet­ings will make your peo­ple feel val­ued and more sat­is­fied in their roles.

Give Rel­e­vant Feedback

Check-ins are an excel­lent place to pro­vide feed­back, and with reg­u­lar meet­ings, man­agers can ensure com­ments are shared in real-time. Con­tin­u­ous feed­back is rel­e­vant to employ­ees and pro­vides a valu­able devel­op­ment opportunity.

Set Agile Goals

Check-ins should be used to mon­i­tor progress and encour­age employ­ee devel­op­ment, both of which can be achieved by set­ting goals. At each meet­ing, review goals col­lab­o­ra­tive­ly and dis­cuss any obsta­cles that may be get­ting in the way. Don’t be afraid to adapt or replace goals if they’re no longer rel­e­vant, as this is a vital part of the process to ensure they’re serv­ing your team and the busi­ness as a whole.

Ask How You Could Improve

The best man­agers are self-aware and eager to con­tin­u­ous­ly improve. Demon­strate these qual­i­ties in your one-to-ones by ask­ing your team what you could be doing bet­ter to help them reach their poten­tial. Under­stand­ing what you can specif­i­cal­ly do for each employ­ee will help you build strong pro­fes­sion­al rela­tion­ships and make you a more effec­tive leader.

Be Present

Hold­ing mean­ing­ful employ­ee check-ins means show­ing up men­tal­ly as well as phys­i­cal­ly. You should be ful­ly present dur­ing the time you’ve allo­cat­ed for each meet­ing, which means no tak­ing calls or check­ing on emails. Afford­ing employ­ees qual­i­ty time with no dis­trac­tions shows them that you gen­uine­ly want to help them succeed.

Pro­vide Train­ing Opportunities

As an inte­gral part of pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment, train­ing may be some­thing you dis­cuss dur­ing employ­ee check-ins. This can tie in with con­ver­sa­tions around goals and career aspi­ra­tions and proves to employ­ees that you’re invest­ed in their future. Ask employ­ees about areas they’d like to improve in or make train­ing sug­ges­tions based on recent feed­back received.

Use Per­for­mance Man­age­ment Software

Per­for­mance man­age­ment soft­ware stream­lines the employ­ee check-in process, mak­ing it easy to sched­ule meet­ings, access data and track feed­back and progress. A lead­ing per­for­mance man­age­ment sys­tem like Advanced Clear Review will also pro­vide struc­ture for your dis­cus­sions, encour­ag­ing mean­ing­ful com­mu­ni­ca­tion ben­e­fi­cial to both parties.

Clear Review’s con­tin­u­ous per­for­mance man­age­ment soft­ware encour­ages reg­u­lar employ­ee check-ins and pro­motes mean­ing­ful con­ver­sa­tions. Get in touch with our expert team or book a free demo to dis­cov­er how we can help you boost engage­ment, sup­port well­be­ing and improve employ­ee retention.