Rock the Check-In: An Easy Guide for Meaningful and Effective 1:1s With Your Team

    The check-in. This simple, often overlooked management practice holds the potential to revolutionize work together in unexpected ways. As 2023 settles in, now is the time to also settle in with a fresh structure to help you rock check-ins with your team.

    It’s not magic, it’s consistency

    Step one for awesome check-ins with your people is consistency. You need consistent rhythms to build momentum and accountability with your team. Especially in high-paced, high-stress teams, we need to check in on goals, progress, and issues at regular intervals to not run off the rails or lose sight of the important in favor of the urgent. Here are some recommended rhythms: 

    • Yearly Review – high level review of contributions and time to set career goals
    • Monthly – use one of your weekly check-ins to review and set goals and check-in on career development
    • Weekly – utilize a 1:1 template (example: Mastering the 1:1)

    Micro *Meaningful* Management 

    Most of us have had negative experiences with micromanagement; and in trying to avoid doing that to our people we fail to adequately support them.

    Checking in will not feel like micromanagement if we make the interaction meaningful for our people. This may feel like it takes time we do not have, but in the end this structure can SAVE us time by preventing miscommunication and fueling more engaged and productive work.

    The Art of the 1:1

    Take the guesswork out of your 1:1s and use a template that offers easy to follow prompts for each section. The basic structure and key components are below. Spend at least 30 minutes, take notes, and revisit prior to the next check in.

    Connection –  How are they outside of work?  As the saying goes, people do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.  

    Status updates – Where are we at on key projects and what issues have arisen?

    Goal progress – Are quarterly goals on track or off track?  

    Issues / Coaching areas – Discussion and coaching around project issues or off-track goals.

    Action items – What will they do?  When will they do it?  How will you know?

    Development – At the first 1:1 of each month, check in on the employee’s career development goals. 

    1:1 Secret Sauce

    While mastering the WHAT of the 1:1, it is imperative to remember the HOW. The secret sauce of all your check-ins = the quality of your presence.

    Maya Angelou is famous for saying, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

    How you show up with your people will speak volumes to them. Being fully present and listening to understand will make your team feel seen, heard, and empowered.

    Kat Schulte is a Certified Integral Coach, and Gallup-Certified Coach, with AG Collaborative. Kat leads AG Collaborative’s Clifton Strengths work as a facilitator, Certified Integral Coach, and Gallup-Certified Coach.