Employee Check-Ins- How to Get Them Right

By Natanya Rutstein


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Many leading organisations are making improvements to their annual performance management cycle by supplementing it with ongoing feedback and coaching in the form of employee check-ins. Regular check-ins help employees and their managers to stay on the same page and engaged in a continuous conversation focused on near term goals and continuous improvement and development. If you want to get employee check-ins right, lets look at some best –practices to get you started.

Weekly check-ins, monthly check-ins or quarterly check-ins? – How often you conduct check-ins will vary from one organisation to another and even internally from one department to another. Some of the factors influencing the chosen frequency are:

  • Workplace culture;
  • Nature of the job;
  • Compexity of goals; and
  • Organizational needs and business cycles.

Make them short – The ideal time for the discussion is 10 – 15 minutes. Anything longer may become a chore and avoided by both managers and employees alike.

Face-to-face – Although meeting in person is preferable, this may not always be possible. Making use of technology to touch base and align expectations can be as effective.

Location can varyWhether you choose to meet in a more formal office setting or in a coffee shop or park will depend on the circumstances. As long as there is some form of privacy and the discussion can take place freely and without interruption you’re good to go.

Some form of structure is preferable – Many organisations make use of a structured questionnaire or check-in template. The template should be kept simple with just a few broad question designed to elicit the right information. This will help the employee and manager to process their thoughts and responses prior to the on-on-one meeting.

Initiating the check-inAllow your employee check-ins to be initiated either by the managers or their direct report. Empowering employees to initiate check-ins motivates them to take control of their own development and successful goal achievement.

Coaching and feedback skills for managers – For performance check-ins to work, managers must be equipped to deliver effective feedback and coaching to employees.

Integrate check-ins with your talent management strategy – Adobe has successfully done this through the following practices:

  • Senior managers are selected as role models to share their Check-in experiences with employees throughout the organization.
  • “Role-modeling Check-in” is now one of the five leadership competencies that all leaders at Adobe must demonstrate.
  • New employees also receive training on Check-in during the onboarding process.

If you’re serious about building a culture of continuous feedback and improvement, implementing employee check-ins is a great place to start. Use these best practices and tips to begin your journey.


Natanya Rutstein
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