The 4 topics you should be talking about during a check-in

Whether you are working remotely or in person, it is essential to understand that check-ins and supervision meetings are an integral part of successfully managing employees. Managers and their direct reports should be meeting regularly to discuss progress, professional development, celebrate successes, and address any challenges that are arising. Even though we see time and time again social media posts that say "people don't leave jobs, they leave bad bosses," a 2018 study by the Harvard Business Review found that employees made "the decision to exit was because of the work... they left when their job wasn't enjoyable, their strengths weren't being used, and they weren't growing in their careers."

I hear this same sentiment from my clients, and I have experienced the same. At the same time, managers and leaders are responsible for setting clear expectations and goals for their direct reports, developing a growth and development plan, and helping them lead from their strengths. An ongoing check-in meeting system will change the relationship between both parties, support positive organizational culture and foster collaboration for the whole team.

The most important thing to understand is that check-ins and supervision meetings are when an employee and their manager meet to discuss the employee's goals and needs.

Are you surprised? Check-ins are not for a manager to discuss all the projects they have and ask their staff questions. This time is exclusively to address the roadblocks, challenges, and celebrate the successes of the staff. My Ultimate Manager Template Guide has the printable templates you need for successful check-ins and goal-oriented meetings.

The four must-have discussions you need during check-in are:

  1. Personal check-in or Icebreaker: do a "temperature check" on where the employee is. Not sure how to start? Ask: on a scale of 1-5, how present are you today? And go from there. If you are the manager, focus on what supports you, or the organization can provide as needed. Connecting personally will set the tone for the meeting and how the manager should step-up or step-back. No one is required to share their deepest secrets or go into depth on their personal lives, but you should know how both parties are doing. If you are expecting an urgent call from a family member or difficult news and have your phone with you, this is a great time to bring that issue, so the other person knows you are still present and focused.

  2. Review progress-to-goals: the employee should report on the progress of their project or performance goals based on their work plan. Celebrate successes, discuss roadblocks, and agree on any changes or additional supports. If you use a project management tool like Asana or a sales report, you will review if the data is up to date and prioritize or deprioritize other work together.

  3. Manager updates: use this time to tell the employee of upcoming changes, deadlines, or projects. Manager updates are not the time for an extensive conversation on the manager's work plan. If you need to discuss a situation that happened during the week, let your staff know in advance and preferably schedule a time to connect outside of the check-in time.

  4. Next steps: review any agreements you made and decide on a deadline, review upcoming priorities for the staff and employee, and discuss any changes in both of your schedules. You cannot keep someone accountable for something they don't know.

If your check-ins don't have these four core discussions, your time is spent on tasks and problems, rather than goal setting, developing a healthy relationship, and building skills. At LEAD Media, I create customized leadership solutions for teams and organizations, and my team can help you create a system that works for you and your staff. Book time with me to discuss your biggest management challenges and I can create a plan to help you succeed.

Photo Credit: Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash

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