Scheduling regular check-in meetings is the critical final step for creating a powerful performance management process. Before scheduling regular check-in meetings you need to set OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) and pick reviewers to provide 360 feedback. A performance management process should focus on increasing your team's output and impact as well as growing their careers.

Frequent team check-in conversations may sound like too much of a time commitment, but their benefits will far outweigh the 30 minutes dedicated to them monthly.

check-In meetings allows the manager and direct to align on expectations and current state
check-In meetings allow the manager and direct to align on expectations and the current state

The Focus Of Team Check-In Meetings

The goal of these regular conversations is to ensure that your team members are performing at their grade. It gives both you and your direct the chance to pause and reflect on their progress in different areas of their core responsibilities. Having these conversations monthly promotes strong alignment on goals and gives you the ability to correct course as needed. This helps you avoid unnecessary surprises.

As a manager you need to keep in mind that you are going to have these team check-in meetings with your directs regularly. Limit the number of messages you want to convey to your direct. Focus on the few most critical topics and ensure they are followed up on.

The Monthly Check-In conversation is not a weekly 1:1 meeting. It is important for you to make sure that your direct understands the context for these check-in conversations and comes prepared. Here are some of the things both you and your direct need to be prepared to discuss:

  • Come prepared to review and grade their performance in each area of their core responsibilities. Are you concerned about the progress or direction of any of the OKRs? Agree on related action items.
  • Come prepared to share 360 feedback with your direct and agree on follow-up action items. I highly suggest compiling this feedback in SBI (Situation, Behavior and Impact) format before communicating.
  • Check-in conversations focus on longer term (quarterly, annual) goals. You and your direct should come prepared to discuss potential long term projects aligned with your direct's career growth.

The main things to keep in mind for check-in conversations:

  • Be explicit about the goals of your check-in meetings. Remind your direct report that check-in meetings are not another weekly 1:1. Your goal is to align on role and level expectations, discuss how they are doing and set action items to correct course as needed.
  • Share your review of how your direct is doing. Share which areas they are strong in and which areas they need to improve in. Share concrete examples and 360 feedback from peers related to both strengths and areas that need improvement.  It is important that your feedback is actionable.
  • Be sure to come up with action items together. Agree on what your direct will do until the next check-in meeting and how you can help. Make sure to align yourselves on quarterly goals and expectations. Both you and your direct share opinions on progress to be made toward goals. Disagreements should be surfaced way before deadlines.
  • Follow up with a recap of your discussion and ask your direct to provide simple plan and action items for improving the areas that you both agreed on.
  • Track action items and review them together during follow-up check-in meetings.

Frequent team check-in meetings don't need to be too formal or burdensome. Regular team check-in meetings  provide better alignment on expectations and help your direct know where they stand. They increase trust and create more opportunities for a manager to hear their team members and help them with their concerns. You should take advantage of light-weight check-in meetings to correct course, share feedback, and help your direct achieve their goals.