Some surprising research
Are you benefiting from productive, weekly one-on-one check-in conversations with your manager that support you to accomplish priority work?
Managers, are you facilitating quality conversations to help your staff optimise their focus and deliver great results?
The simplest way to increase both performance and engagement is for managers to have weekly one-on-one check-in conversations with their staff about their near-term future work. This is especially important when working remotely.
Seems common sense, doesn’t it? However, iMastery’s current research reveals only 11% of corporate employees working remotely strongly agree that they have a worthwhile weekly 1:1 conversation with their manager that supports them to accomplish priority work. Managers, this presents a fabulous opportunity to quickly and easily make a difference.
What is a regular check-in conversation?
The purpose of a check-in conversation is to connect and support people to accomplish priority work. By regularly checking-in, managers can help staff to:
- Delegate, and
- Progress meaningful work tasks.
This in turn supports people to enjoy the most motivating condition we can experience at work – making progress towards something that is personally meaningful. Over the long term, productivity is as vital for the organisation as it is for the individual.
When and where should I facilitate check-in conversations?
Weekly one-on-one check-in conversations can be held in-person, or remotely via video-conference or phone. It is not the medium that matters, rather the frequency and consistency of your check-in conversations.
Regardless of whether you and your team are working remotely, at the office or a hybrid of both, scheduling check-in conversations creates the discipline to make sure they take place. If you are a manager with multiple people reporting to you, you’ll save time by batching your meetings. But take a break after three consecutive 20-minute conversations to nurture your own energy.
Avoid scheduling check-in conversations (or any meeting for that matter) first thing in the morning. People tend to be most productive at the start of the day. Keeping 8.30-11am meeting free lets your team use their naturally most productive time to work deeply and eat their frogs! The momentum, sense of satisfaction and self-mastery that accomplishing an important task early in the day generates, carries over to completing other tasks and sets up our day for success.
If you are back working from the office and able to meet in-person, try walking meetings for your weekly check-in conversations.
Who books the check-in conversation?
If your manager hasn’t already set a weekly check-in time with you, you can proactively reach out to them and book a weekly 20-minute meeting time. Explain that you’d like to check in to say hi and confirm that the work you have prioritised for the week is aligned with the team’s objectives.
What should we talk about?
The number one attribute of top managers is being a good coach. Regular check-in conversations support a coaching management style and asking quality questions is key. Start here with seven questions that will set you up for success:
- How are you?
- What progress do you notice?
- What are you working on this week?
- What are your top priorities?
- Which priorities are most important and meaningful to you?
- How can I help?
- What, if anything, was useful about our conversation just now?
Answers to the final question are very revealing and you’ll quickly notice how each staff member takes something different from your weekly check-ins. In the unlikely event the answer is “nothing”, go on to ask further questions to determine what would make the check-in process useful.
Executives, it’s also wise to ask the managers who report to you about the quality of the weekly check-in conversations they are facilitating with their staff. Our Leader as Coach training can help support managers to effectively lead meaningful check-in conversations.
Is it really worth the effort?
Optimally these regular check-in conversations will take 15-20 minutes; 30 minutes tops. Sure, if you have six staff reporting to you, your weekly check-in conversations are going to take up about two hours of your week. But having six staff aligned with your division’s key objectives, working on priority tasks and feeling supported and engaged with their work, is going to generate significant results and help you focus on strategic tasks. The saying “People join companies but leave managers,” comes to mind.
An important note about micro-management
Don’t be fooled into thinking frequent check-in conversations amount to micro-management. Nothing could be further from the truth! When working remotely, micromanaging looks like meetings where the manager predominantly speaks, decisions are made top-down and are executed at the pace defined by the leader. In the long term, there is no relationship of trust.
In stark contrast, weekly check-in conversations are about fostering connection and trust, facilitating insights, empowering, providing support, aligning priorities and celebrating progress. Done well, they are the ultimate high payoff leadership activity. If you need some extra support, here are some more useful tips about how to have effective meetings.
Over to you
- What tips stand out for you?
- Who are you going to schedule weekly check-ins with?
- When will you schedule your check-ins to take place?
- What quality questions will you ask?
Thank you for reading and sharing this post. I hope it adds value to you and your team.
Better Ways of Working
Better Ways of Working is an inspiring and practical masterclass series to support you and your team with holistic, evidence-based, field-tested techniques. Get the ultimate advantage of:
- Specific time-management strategies applicable to working remotely
- Effective prioritisation and personal organisation
- More time to invest in key tasks
- Reduced stress and increased energy and wellbeing
- Enhanced engagement
- Increased efficiency and productivity.
Leader as Coach
iMastery’s online Leader as Coach training supports managers to:
- Regularly and effectively check-in with staff
- Manage and evaluate performance based on outcomes
- Coach staff to accomplish priority work
- Compassionately hold people accountable to complete priority tasks.
Contact us to learn more and to book an in-house online training series for your team. We look forward to working with you.