Regular check-ins are a good thing, and there is no one right way to do them. It can depend on your culture, the type of work you do, and ultimately, the personality of the employee. That being said, we’ve rounded up some great advice on how to make a schedule that works for you and your team.
After avoiding the most common onboarding mistakes you don’t just let your employees fly away and off on their own. This is where a lot of companies stumble and sometimes fall.
According to a Gallup employee engagement survey, only 30% of employees and 35% of managers are engaged at work. This low level of engagement is caused in part by unaccountable responsibilities and lack of communication from both sides.
Companies have tried ways of keeping engagement and accountability high in the past, which typically included an annual performance review process. The annual review hasn’t gone as planned for most organizations.
Bloomberg declared the annual performance review worthless in 2013. The author, Claire Suddath wrote, “Unsurprisingly, hauling people into a conference room and rating them on a numerical scale isn’t a popular practice.”.
In addition to treating employees less than human, Suddath believes that reviews don’t happen frequently enough. “Managers should address issues when they arise,” she writes, “not six or eight months later.”
The old, formal process of impersonal annual performance reviews dragged its slow-to-respond ideas into HR technology with the introduction of employee review software, but the new-and-improved annual review process still left 65% of employees wanting more feedback from their managers.
Our CEO Craig Bryant chatted with Bloomberg, and went as far as calling most performance review software, “abhorrent”. This feeling led us to develop better employee review features with our Kin HR software.
Annual performance reviews may always have a place in employer-employee relations, but it’s not how relationships are built or how employee engagement is crafted. If these ideas are your goals, employee check-ins can help you achieve them.
Build relationships and raise engagement
Creating a regularly scheduled check-in with your staff is a must in our ever evolving world. Not only does this help the employee understand where their boss believes they should be, it also helps the employer gauge the role, work level, stress, and other details of the job more often.
The reason you’d want to know these things is because they give you a complete look at the progress (or lack thereof ) the employee is making. In some industries, priorities can shift swiftly quarter to quarter and a check-in between parties will really help keep the employee on the same page as the company.
Because a check-in doesn’t sound as serious as an annual performance review, if the employer creates the right environment, like going off-campus or going to lunch during the check-in, it can be a more candid conversation.
Asking the right kinds of questions during your check-ins will help you gauge the employees’ loyalty to the company, too.
What you’ll soon discover is that the frequency your company checks in with employees matter to building the relationship with them and raising their engagement levels at work.
One of the most common check-in structures is the quarterly check-in.
Quarterly check-ins are an easy sell. They connect with the quarters of the year (though, if your fiscal year is off from the calendar year, you could align here too), two-quarters playing a larger role than your average check-in.
The mid-year check-in can play the role of realigning the rest of the employee’s year with any new company goals and initiatives. If what your employee planned to do this year no longer makes sense, you’ll want to have this chat at the mid-year check-in.
Then there’s the end of the year check-in, which could play the role of your annual review. If you can avoid performance review failures, and structure your annual reviews more like a check-in, you and your staff will be better off for it.
This structure leaves the remaining two check-ins to be much less formal, and even more important to the “temperature check” that check-ins can provide.
A 360 review
Alana Martin, an operations leader at We Are Mammoth, Kin’s parent company, explains their processes for a formal check-in, “We use a process called a 360 review. For the second and fourth quarters, we ask the colleagues who work with the employee having the check-in to provide feedback on their working experience with them. We only do that twice a year because we like to have enough time to get substantial feedback.”
Staff working with an employee every day will have more on-the-ground information to share in their feedback, which is essential to a successful check-in process.
After a 360 review is completed, this info is fed into Kin’s review feature and discussed during a more formal check-in with the employees’ manager.
On whether or not this process works for everyone, Alana had more to say. “I think it depends on your level and role in the company. One of our software developers would check-in with his junior reports on a weekly basis. It gave them a chance to go over their shared objectives and to see how they’re handling their workload.”
Quarterly check-ins work for most companies as a whole, but a check-in process might be needed more often, like at a software development company.
The development team at a software company often works in what is called a “sprint”, a one to two week period where a team of developers work on a particular amount of work as a project.
Check-ins on objectives and employee outlook might happen as often as at the end of each sprint.
As for other industries, Alana doesn’t see there being a right or wrong answer. “It’s a touch and go situation. A once a week five-minute catch-up where an employee and a manager meet informally could also be the right decision, it all depends on your business.”
Find the right balance
While the frequency and how formal you choose to make the process are important, so too is finding what would work best for your industry and your folks.
You can start with a quarterly check-in and gauge the feeling. If it feels too often, scale back. If it feels like you need to check-in more, explore having a less formal, more often, check-in with employees.
Having check-ins with your team on a regular basis can help keep everyone informed, provide comfort in autonomy, and direct your employees’ objectives that lead to positive reviews.
Have you started having check-ins with your employees? Drop us a line and let us know what’s worked and what hasn’t. We’d love to feature your feedback in an update!