Check-ins have long been an essential part of the manager and employee relationship. As a manager, you’ve likely spent many hours walking your building, casually checking in with your employees. Well, those days of nonchalant catch-ups are over. Now, with the surge of people working remotely, check-ins aren’t as easy. Instead of walking down the hall, you have to schedule a meeting.
But just because the process is more difficult doesn’t mean it’s any less necessary. In fact, some would argue these meetings are even more important in a work-from-home environment.
If you’re new to scheduling virtual check-ins or want to enhance your current process, this article can help. Here are six tips to help managers conduct effective virtual check-ins:
1. Be Thorough in One-on-one Meetings
As a manager, it’s your responsibility to ensure your employees are meeting, if not exceeding expectations. It’s also your responsibility to ensure that they are doing well in other areas. Not only should you use one-on-one meetings to share updates and provide feedback, but you should be trying to connect with your employees.
While you don’t need to dig too deeply into their personal life, do ask some questions to establish rapport. “How was your weekend?,” “How is your family?,” “How have you been feeling about the current workload?” are great options. While these aren’t too personal, the answers can tell you a lot about your employee.
In addition to providing support to your employees, such questions also make you aware of challenges they’re facing that could impact their productivity. When you schedule a one-on-one meeting, it’s both for your and the employee’s benefit.
Scheduling frequent one-on-ones that include questions like these help you stay connected with your employees. Make sure you’re being consistent and scheduling these meetings at least a couple of times a month.
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2. Keep the Meeting Short
According to research, short meetings offer more benefits than longer ones. Attention spans range, so to prioritize retention of what’s discussed, keep them brief. Aim for 15 to 20 minutes total.
Shorter meetings also keep employees productive. Think about it. Having an hour-long meeting in the middle of the day is disruptive. It forces employees to stop the work they’re doing and lose their concentration. But 15 minutes is about the same amount of time they would take to refill their coffee and take a short break.
3. Take Advantage of Video Chat
In remote workplaces, creating connections with your employees can be challenging. This is especially true for new employees who were hired and onboarded virtually. While they haven’t had the opportunity to meet you in person, that doesn’t mean you can’t form a relationship during virtual check-ins.
Consider scheduling video calls, in lieu of phone calls, to add more of a human element. While we know not everyone enjoys being on camera, video calls can help your employees feel more connected to you (and vice versa).
That said, not every one-on-one has to take place on camera. Chances are, there will be days when neither of you feels “camera ready.” However, if you have a check-in once a week, consider having at least two of those a month via video.
4. Create an Agenda
Before attending the check-in, make sure you create a detailed meeting agenda. Even if the meeting is only scheduled for 15 minutes, it’s essential to have one. You only have a short window, so it’s important you go in with a plan.
First, determine the duration of the meeting and then create a structure with that in mind. Write down what you want to discuss and any action items. You should also ask your employees beforehand whether there’s anything they’d like to discuss. If so, leave room for them on your agenda.
It’s a good idea to share this agenda with your employee prior to the meeting. This way, they’ll know what to expect and have time to ask any questions.
5. Follow Through on What’s Said
While you should be checking in on non-work areas of your employees’ lives, be sure you are prepared for their response.
For example, let’s say your employee requests a lighter workload because of a personal issue. Offer a solution to help. If you don’t have one immediately, tell them you will look into it and reach out by the end of the week.
Asking questions about employees’ personal lives only helps create a bond if you genuinely care and act upon what is shared.
6. Highlight Company Resources
One-on-ones are also a great time to ensure your employees know what’s going on within the company. While these updates might’ve already been shared, go over them again. Sometimes employees have questions but don’t feel more comfortable asking them in a public setting.
You should also take the time to remind employees of any company perks or resources. For instance, does your company offer employee resource groups? Do you offer unlimited paid time off? What about a fitness program app? Your employees may not know about these programs, but they should.
You could also ask employees for feedback or input during these check-ins. Maybe they have an idea to streamline a process or want to take on a new project. Make sure you listen and offer encouragement when possible.
A check-in is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. It’s an opportunity for you, as a manager, to touch base with your employees. During these one-on-one meetings, you should be aiming to make long-lasting, professional connections. Ask your employee questions, invite them to ask you questions, and offer feedback and support.
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