What are the parameters for an effective check-in process? How often should it be done? How to ensure more employee engagement through the check-ins? These have been the questions that are haunting the leaders and the managers for months now given the crisis scenario of the world that seems never-ending. In this situation, companies are resorting to remote working and the time period of it seems indefinite. So, Check-Ins, and to be more precise effective Check-ins have become extremely important now more than ever and organizations need to up their game to ensure some developmental results through it.
Why are Check-Ins Important?
How often do the employees feel that they do not understand what is expected from them by the organization? Or how often do the managers feel that they aren’t sure how their employees are progressing? I think this is a regular occurrence that happens due to either miscommunication or lack of communication. Check-Ins are important because they reduce these bottlenecks and help the managers and employees to be on the same page. It is a great way to identify, track and maintain clarity in terms of goals and expectations for both the participants.
The importance of check-ins is not only limited to this, it is a great form of employee engagement as well. Regular check-ins ensure that the managers and their employees are constantly in communication with each other. This not only increases trust and bonding among them but also takes away a huge burden that performance reviews bring as check-ins help in eliminating the recency bias and motivates them to perform better.
Issues with Working Remotely:
With Remote working slowly but steadily replacing the office environment and the managers and employees far away from each other, there are a lot of potential issues that arise or might arise in a short while:
- Firstly, humans are social beings. No matter how introverted or shy a person is, the presence of people in our work environment around us is something with which we are used to. But the sheer isolation associated with remote working is something that is taking a huge toll on the mental health of everyone working for an organization.
- Secondly, if there is no goal orientation, employees are often lost in the process because they do not know what to prioritize and what to keep aside.
- And lastly, but definitely not the least, with no face-to-face communication and feedback, the chances of rework increases, surging the frustration levels among the employees.
So all these reasons should prompt the organizations to ensure effective and regular check-ins with their employees.
Check-Ins Best Practices for Remote Working Model:
The best of the best policies that an organization can follow to make their Check-ins effective is to “Communicate, Communicate, Communicate and Communicate endlessly.”
Engagement takes a lot of effort because remote workers often tend to lose a lot of the unstructured and informal engagement that takes place in an office- environment. So it becomes particularly important for the managers and leaders to go that extra mile to ensure communication and engagement from their employees.
- Give Space: A tendency that leaders and managers might develop is to overdo the check-ins which might result in something contrary to what they were expecting. For instance, if the managers call a team meeting to engage with the members every one hour then instead of fulfilling the purpose of engagement and tracking in progress, it will create annoyance. So it is very important to plan and schedule the check-ins such that it serves the purpose and not make employees divisive.
- Customize Check-Ins: Not all members of the team perform equally isn’t it? There are some exceptional performers & some not-so-exceptional performers and some are highly self-motivated & emotionally stable and some aren’t. By customizing check-ins, the leaders and the managers would be able to prioritize who needs a little more pushing and a little more attention and who doesn’t require too much of their involvement. For example, a dormant team member might need more frequent check-ins than the one who is very active.
- Hold No-Agenda Meetings: These are the meetings where all the participants can have candid discussions. The discussion might be about business like what are the headwinds the business is facing and what are the steps being taken to survive the crisis, or it can be about any personal aspect as well like how the participants are doing mentally if they are facing any problems and so on.
- Voluntary Participation: The worst thing to do in a crisis scenario like this is to enforce actions on employees. Do all check-ins need to have voluntary participation? Absolutely not. The check-ins for clarifying business agendas or expectations from employees or checking their performance progress that should be mandatory. But that being said, the check-ins which are introduced for the employees’ betterment must allow the employees for their voluntary participation.
- Have a dedicated team of listeners: With anxiety and depression at their peak, often the employees find themselves lost. An organization must have a team or have atleast some people who will be available for a conversation, with whom not only employees but also managers and leaders can interact because they are humans too. Isn’t it the responsibility of the organization to look after its people’s mental health? Would it not motivate the employees to work harder for their employer if they feel they are being taken care of by them? So it will be a propitious arrangement for all.
Culture plays a very important role in determining how the process will proceed because check-ins with managers have become even more critical now, with both objectives and key results having to be re-calibrated often, to keep pace with changing business priorities. All such interactions are also an opportunity for both leaders and managers to act as coaches and counselors to employees, who are looking up to them for showing them the path.
It has also become important for organizations to use their creative brains and plan employee engagement activities accordingly. For example, arranging virtual birthday greetings, organizing impromptu virtual parties, fundraising for worthy causes together, are some of the little things that add up. It is also important for them to realize the impact that humanizing the process would bring as we are going through a shared experience that is demanding much of everyone physically and emotionally. Recognizing this shared humanity, and leaving room for a little bit of fun, will make it easier for everyone to get through this together.