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How To Lead A Check-In Conversation With Each Team Member In 4 Easy Steps

Updated: Nov 3, 2020

Especially now that people are almost all working from home, it is easy to lose the feeling that all is well and work is on track. When you don’t meet up in person—even just once a week, you need to have more frequent phone or video-enabled conversations. There is so much information you can gain when you can pick up the emotions about the other person’s needs, questions, delays, stumbling blocks, and level of motivation. The emotions that underlie the words they are saying don’t come through very well in written email or project tools.

Plan regular check-in conversations with each of your team members no less than twice a week. Ask these questions and follow them up with another open-ended question to gain understanding:

Q1: How’s your week (or day) going? And add in “How’s your family?” as appropriate. This is a catch-all question that offers the other person an opportunity to say anything. You may pick up cues about their mood, comfort or discomfort level, and specific problems they may be experiencing.  Show empathy and ask for more, if you pick up an emotional response, positive or negative.

Q2: What is your biggest priority today? They may reiterate the goal you are both working on or they may surprise you with one particular item they are focused on. Again, ask another open-ended question to learn more. If you are concerned about a different priority, this is a good time to inquire about that one as well.

Q3: What’s the hardest part of the project as of now? If they seemed distressed, be sure to ask what would be most helpful now and specifically what you can do to make it easier.

Q4: What’s your focus for the next few days? This is super important. Don’t leave it out, because it’s a great way to double-check that their goals align with yours. When needed, probe for understanding.

Some good feedback will get accomplished in this kind of conversation, because the other person usually often discovers what they need to do differently if you check in for alignment!

Read The Feedback Imperative for more tips and strategies for leading remotely

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