When most people think of leaders, they think of suits, skyscrapers and strategy. They’re disconnected from the working person, basing everything purely on numbers. As a leader, that’s not the image you want to have. American author and inspirational speaker, Simon Sinek, once said: "Leadership is not about being in charge. It is about taking care of those in your charge."
He’s right. To be a good manager and get the most from your team, you need to take responsibility for their well-being. Regular check-ins can be a great way to do this, whether you’re the CEO of a large multinational or an entrepreneur just getting started with a handful of employees. Check-ins help to keep your team moving forward - let’s find out how.
They improve communication
Regular check-ins keep the lines of communication between you and your team open. Group meetings with everyone and also 1:1s give employees a chance to catch up on what's been going on, share any challenges they're facing and even allow the team to celebrate their wins. Your team can feel like they’re in the loop and understand how their work fits into wider business goals.
Clear communication is key for any team to function smoothly and check-ins help make it happen. You’ll find there is less room for confusion or mix-ups, plus they can also foster a more open and honest atmosphere among colleagues.
If your team feels relaxed and comfortable in their working environment, they’re more likely to share their thoughts and ideas. This leads to better problem-solving, decision-making and a happier work environment.
They improve accountability
Regular check-ins go hand-in-hand with accountability. During these meetings, you can understand what team members are doing in a particular week, set and track progress on specific goals and make sure there are no blockers.
Accountability is vital for any team to be successful and check-ins make sure you know if someone is falling behind. They give you the chance to identify and address problems early on, before they get more serious. Plus, by tracking progress, everyone knows what they need to do and what they should be working on. That will foster greater confidence in speaking out in group meetings with the team - stepping up and owning parts of the meeting agenda.
All of this can lead to your employees feeling more invested in the team's goals and success. They’ll feel listened to which drives motivation and engagement and in turn, can lead to better performance and results.
They improve productivity
If regular check-ins help communication and accountability then the third side to the triangle is productivity. By talking to your team in a daily or weekly meeting you can identify and address anything that could be slowing down progress. A 1:1 meeting is a great way to discuss these issues and brainstorm ideas to find a solution.
Regular meetings also help make sure everyone is at their best. In your 1:1s, as well as work discussions, you can talk about personal issues and let your team discuss anything that could be getting in the way of productivity. A good manager needs to be a good listener. In group sessions, you can discuss potential challenges and find creative solutions to get things done.
They improve team dynamics
We’ve already hinted at how regular check-ins can help your team, but it bears repeating. Well-planned catch-ups are going to become your team’s therapist. Team meetings provide a safe space for your employees to share thoughts on projects, discuss problems and generally get to know each other better.
It really can’t be understated how important good team dynamics are. Trust within a team and an openness to discuss issues ensure goals and growth are achieved. Any kink in that chain will leave your team underperforming and missing deadlines. If you ever think that is happening, organize a quick poll and let your team talk it out.
Encourage icebreakers when new people join your team, hold virtual coffee breaks when your team works remotely and recognize successes no matter how small.
Finding time for check-ins
As a business leader, it’s easy to get sidetracked into a variety of things. Your diary will likely fill up weeks ahead of time and it’ll often feel like check-ins are the easy thing to push. Don’t.
It can’t be stressed enough how important 1:1 and group meetings with your team are. Constantly skipping meetings will likely lead to a breakdown in communication, a loss of productivity and goals missed.
Be smart with your time. A tool like Doodle, for instance, will let you find the best time for your team to come together. Make a poll to get your whole team together in minutes rather than constant rounds of emails or use 1:1s to send one employee your availability and let them choose what works.
Utilizing check-ins is one of the best ways, as a leader, to drive your team to success. Own the process and deliver the growth you want for your business.