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Better Meetings

How to run better check-in meetings as a manager [+ template]

How to run better check-in meetings as a manager-featured image

Regular team meetings are one of the best ways to communicate effectively, with check-in meetings being powerful tools for establishing team priorities and accountability. 

In this guide, we’ll tell you all about the team check-in: why it’s important, how to run it, and the pitfalls to avoid. 

Let’s get started!

Table of contents

  • What is a check-in meeting?

  • Why are check-in meetings important?

  • How often should you run check-ins with your employees?

  • 6 tips for better check-in meetings

  • Free check-in meeting agenda template

What is a check-in meeting?

A check-in meeting is a recurring meeting where team members discuss updates on important topics and share progress on workflow, current projects, new initiatives, and metrics. The check-in meeting can be a one-on-one meeting between an employee and a manager or a team meeting with team members and a facilitator. 

Regular check-ins allow everyone to voice their ideas and concerns and open a communication channel between all team members, making teamwork more effective.

Why are check-in meetings important?

Holding weekly check-in meetings is a way for managers to connect with team members and identify any potential blockers early on. Check-in meetings also offer these benefits:

  • Employees get timely and relevant feedback so they can confidently perform their roles and set the right priorities 

  • Managers can get regular insight into projects and correct the course day-to-day when necessary

  • Organizations can adapt to changing situations and roadblocks faster (and be more successful than slower competitors!) 

Above all, check-in meetings reinforce the key drivers of employee engagement.  Good managers are involved in their team’s work lives and focused on keeping everyone on track to reach both their individual and team goals.  Regular check-ins allow managers to build trust and connection — two things that are particularly important on remote-first teams. 

According to research from Gallup, employees are seven times more likely to be actively engaged when they feel that their manager knows what they’re working on. However, if employees feel largely ignored by their bosses, they become 15 times more likely to be disengaged

How often should you run check-ins with your employees?

Distributed and remote teams benefit from frequent check-ins — either synchronous or asynchronous — to keep them on the same page and to promote a sense of camaraderie. 

On the other hand, teams working in an office can feel micromanaged when they have to check in with their managers too often. 

Based on the kind of team you have and its size, you’ll likely want to hold check-ins weekly (in the form of a team meeting) or daily (in the form of a standup). Smaller distributed teams can do with weekly meetings but larger teams may benefit more from more frequent touchpoints. 

Daily check-in meetings

If you choose to run daily check-in meetings, they should be brief and structured, allowing each team member to share a super quick status update. 

This kind of meeting can happen one-on-one through Slack, email, a video conferencing app, or in person. Alternatively, the whole team can participate in a daily standup meeting

Daily check-ins tend to have a simple structure with team members sharing:

  • What they worked on yesterday 

  • What they’re working on today

  • What they’ll be tackling tomorrow 

  • What, if anything, they need help with

Weekly check-in meetings

A weekly check-in is similar in structure to its daily counterpart, but the progress reports are more in-depth. The weekly meeting is most effective when it serves as a kickoff for the employee’s weekly tasks and priorities, while recapping the previous week’s accomplishments and areas for improvement. 

If you have the time and bandwidth for it, it’s a good idea to run both team check-ins and one-on-one check-ins. The former helps with team alignment and the latter lets employees and managers address more private concerns.

6 tips for better check-in meetings

To hold effective check-in meetings for your team, follow these tips. 

1. Choose a time and frequency that makes sense for everyone 

Scheduling check-ins at a convenient time for everyone is important. Not only is it a good meeting culture (respecting time) but it will also help everyone be more productive. 

For instance, if your team's due date for deliverables is each Friday, it’s not a good idea to schedule a meeting when they might need time to apply the finishing touches. And if the team likes to keep their Mondays clear to focus on getting a lot of work done at the beginning of the week, you may want to run a Tuesday or Wednesday check-in. 

As mentioned, daily and weekly are the most common meeting frequency for check-ins but you can choose any frequency based on your team’s capacity and needs.It’s a good idea to poll your team members to gauge their opinion on how often (and when) check-ins should be held. 

2. Stick to your meeting agenda

Check-ins are team meetings that should be short and specific. It can be tempting to delve into a lot of different topics or give detailed feedback but you need to keep the meeting agenda narrow and focused. If there are issues that need more attention and discussion, schedule separate meetings for them. 

Creating a focused agenda doesn’t have to be difficult. With Vowel, you can create your agenda in the app or use agenda templates that are sent alongside the meeting invitation (no need for any separate docs or worrying about shared links). You can even add timers to time-box each topic! 

3. Take notes

Meeting notes are important for check-in meetings: over time, these will become a valuable knowledge resource, identifying blockers and keeping a record of how projects and goals progress.  

Meeting minutes or recordings are also a great tool to loop in any team member who had to be absent from a check-in meeting. 

If you use Vowel for video conferencing, you can take advantage of collaborative, multiplayer notes that everyone can see and work on together. These notes are automatically time-stamped to the meeting transcript and recording, so you can get instant context if you have to go back. 

Shared meeting notes in Vowel

Plus, Vowel allows you to bookmark important points during a meeting, so you can easily find your way back later. 

A screenshot of the Vowel bookmark feature

4. Give and ask for feedback

If your check-in meetings are just team members giving a status update and moving on, you’re missing out on the opportunity to give helpful feedback. 

After check-in, employees should leave with a clear takeaway or idea on how they can improve their work. 

As well as giving feedback, you should be asking for it, too. Ask your employees if they have any check-in questions that might make projects or workflows more efficient, or cut out unnecessary tasks. You can take a look at our list of feedback questions for ideas! 

5. Set clear action items

To help each team member know what they need to do, you should end your check-ins with a list of action items. An action item is a clearly defined task with a due date and an owner. 

Using action items — which you can easily add to meeting notes in Vowel! — prevents tasks from falling through the tracks and boosts team accountability. Make sure you have a central place for action items (in your meeting or project management tool), so it’s easy to go back and track what’s been done and what’s outstanding. 

A screenshot that shows how Vowel groups all meeting action items

6. Stay organized

Check-in meetings are recurring, so it’s important to stay organized and keep track of what is happening. If you’re a manager, you may need to check in with both your team as a whole and individuals, so it’s important to streamline your workflow! 

With Vowel, you can keep related meetings in shared folders for quick reference throughout the project. Recurring meetings are also automatically grouped, so that week-to-week conversations and notes are streamlined.

Vowel organize meetings folders GIF

Free check-in meeting agenda template

Crafting the right agenda that fits the needs of your team is the first step toward holding effective meetings. 

Your check-in meetings need to be structured to stay on track, and the best way to give structure to any meeting is to use a thoughtful meeting agenda. 

For instance, you could start with an icebreaker question and then move on to:

  • Updates on key projects and metrics

  • Anticipated roadblocks 

  • Discussing OKRs (Objectives and Key Results)

  • Questions, feedback, and action items

Below, you’ll find a meeting template for a weekly one-on-one check-in that you can easily make your own. Once you have it just like you want it, save it for future meetings.

weekly team meeting agenda Vowel

Grab our free template!

Run check-ins that make a difference

A properly structured check-in meeting opens up effective communication between all team members and aligns everyone on outstanding tasks and goals. 

With Vowel, you can streamline the way you run all your meetings: 

  • Easily set and share meeting agendas from a template (or use your own)

  • Collaborate on notes (and easily pull up notes from your last discussion)

  • Record and transcribe meetings in real time, creating a library of company knowledge and making it easy for team members to catch up if they have to miss it

  • Bookmark moments for easy reference later

  • Assign action items

A screenshot of Vowel where users can view meetings from their dashboard

Want to learn more? See how Vowel is different from other video conferencing tools or sign up for free!