Here’s a thing that every manager should remember—checking in with your team members is not a long and stressful process. On the contrary, employee performance check-ins are a great way for managers to discuss goal progress, identify possible roadblocks, and exchange feedback on job performance. It’s pretty straightforward.
We have observed that managers have a tendency to associate check-ins with evaluating past performance only. While employee performance check-ins are meant for that, they are also much more than just past evaluations.
So, what truly are employee performance check-ins and how can you get them right? Here’s a guide that unwraps everything there is about employee performance check-ins.
What are employee performance check-ins?
Let's understand what these check-ins are so we’re all on the same page. Employee performance check-ins are short conversations that a team member has with their manager to exchange feedback.
Beyond that, these performance check-ins also involve dialogue around the team member’s personal development and well-being. In fact, we can go as far as to say that these check-ins are crucial in seamlessly initiating coaching conversations with your team members and helping them achieve their development goals.
With all these things under its belt, it’s no surprise that these check-ins bring a ton of benefits to the table. Here are a few of them:
Improve relationships with your team members
Employee performance check-ins are a great way to track your team member’s growth. As you conduct these check-ins, you’ll be much more informed about your team member’s strengths and weaknesses, allowing you to establish rapport with them.
Identify opportunities and possible roadblocks
Considering how easy it is for opportunities and roadblocks to slide under the radar of monthly meetings and daily updates, employee performance check-ins serve as a great mid-point for identifying and developing the most effective strategies for the same.
Allows you to refocus and realign goals
One major strength of these check-ins comes from how managers can quickly and easily make changes to their key results and targets as compared to doing that in a monthly 1:1. Not to mention, check-ins are a great way of making sure that your team member’s personal goals are well-aligned with that of the organization’s.
Encourages reflection and skill development
Coaching your team members through employee performance check-ins gives them plenty of insights into their job performance. With that, they can make informed decisions around their skill and personal development.
Improves engagement and retention
With all its features, it’s no surprise that employee check-ins are a great way to keep your people engaged and motivated by recognizing and rewarding them for their efforts. The data you derive by investing in these check-ins and understanding your people thoroughly would also assist in making smarter workplace decisions.
Preparing for performance check-ins
There’s no worse feeling than having a performance or coaching conversation with your team member without any prior preparation. Performance check-ins are no different; they also require a fair bit of preparation on your and your team members' part to be fruitful. So, here’s what we suggest you do:
Set clear goals and expectations
To get started with your performance check-ins, set up some goals and expectations and communicate them to your team member as well. At the same time, ask them to add any agenda items for the check-in meeting. These goals can cover a range of things such as eliminating roadblocks, addressing dependency issues, resource crunch, delivering performance feedback, coaching plans, and the plan of action for the upcoming weeks.
Gather information and feedback
Once you’ve established the purpose behind the check-in, you must get up to speed with all the necessary information and past feedback. Make a note of all the previous deliverables, your team member’s key results, their personal development, and their progress. Along with all this, make sure to include any company or structural changes that need to be discussed with your team member.
Identify areas of improvement
Based on the progress so far, identify key areas where your team member was lacking to initiate dialogue over the same. Right now, the goal is not to prepare feedback and give it to the team member but to understand the reason why these areas are being a bottleneck and work together to overcome them.
How to conduct performance check-ins
Now that your prep work is in place, it’s time to put your plan into action.
Decide on your check-in cadence
Establishing your meeting cadence is a good place, to begin with. You need to lock in the frequency of your check-ins, and the duration of these meetings, and make it a recurring activity. You may have it daily, weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. However, we recommend setting it up every week as the frequency is perfect for identifying any possible roadblocks and opportunities quickly.
Discuss the check-in goals with your team member
Discuss all the pre-established meeting goals and try to gain insights into the bottlenecks and why they exist. Also, share feedback with your team member—recognize them for their efforts and help them understand what could be done better or differently.
Check-ins are best conducted by asking open-ended questions. Here are a few to get you started:
Questions on goals, projects, and objectives:
- What are your concerns about [X]?
- Is everything working as expected or do we need to correct our goals?
- Are there any unplanned tasks that are hampering your project/goals?
- Am I a bottleneck in any phase of your work? Are there any blockers in your work?
- Is there anything I can do to help you further?
Questions on coaching and development:
- How is your work on [personal project]?
- Is there anything I can do to help with your personal goals?
- What’s one new thing that you’ve learned since last week?
- Did you take any steps to improve since our last check-in?
- What achievement are you the proudest of this week?
Questions on well-being:
- How are you feeling about your tasks since the last check-in?
- Is anything overwhelming you or stressing you out?
- Do you feel motivated enough for the new projects that have been assigned to you?
- How is your mental health on a scale of 1 to 10?
- Is there anything I can do to alleviate your work stress?
Summarize everything and schedule a follow-up
Once you have your answers, make an effort to summarize everything that you and your team member have discussed at the check-in. Next, note everything you and your team member will do going forward and schedule a follow-up check-in to start the cycle again. With that, you’ve successfully conducted an employee performance check-in.
Tips for effective performance check-ins
There isn’t one concrete formula to ensuring the efficacy of your performance check-ins. However, we’ve got five tips for you to make our performance check-ins productive:
Build your agenda together
The simplest way to set up your check-in is by discussing your agenda with your team member beforehand. It’s a good way to break away from the norm that the manager has to do everything, and give the team member equal ownership over this performance enablement activity.
Ask the right questions
As always, you’ll get the right answers if you ask the right questions. So, make sure to ask pointed and concise questions that eliminate ambiguity from the conversation and would also help you gain the right kind of insights since your last check-in. Also, avoid using close-ended questions as they do nothing but restrict the flow of conversations. If you’re confused about what to ask, the questions mentioned above are good for your check-ins.
Be honest and real
If the time since the last check-in didn’t go too well, it’s okay. The important thing to remember here is not to sugar-coat things and present them as they are. Discuss things with your team member honestly and clearly, and work together to bring up solutions that can fix all blockers.
End the check-in with action items in place
Before your check-in ends, ensure you and your team member know what needs to be done before the next check-in. Take notes and collaborate on creating action items you can follow up on in the next check-in. This would also enable a seamless flow of conversations between each employee check-in.
Converse between check-ins too
There’s no hard and fast rule that says you can only have conversations with your team member during a check-in. So, try and check in on your team member in between the performance check-ins and see how they’re faring. Through this, you’ll be able to uncover any possible roadblocks sooner and make use of any opportunities as and when they arise.
Summing it up
And that’s all there is to employee performance check-ins. At the end of the day, our main takeaway should be that checking in with your people and engaging in conversations with them regularly is a must for every great manager.
As their guide, it is your job to help them identify their needs and develop solutions to help them get to their key results and objectives in the most streamlined manner. And what better way to do that than to uncover things quickly with these performance check-ins? That’s your cue to check in with your team if you haven’t already done so.