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.
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.
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.