Staying connected with your boss, your direct reports, and your peers has never been more important than over the last 18 months. Whatever you call them, one-on-one meetings, catch-up meetings, or weekly touch base meetings, these two-person meetings, whether face-to-face or virtual have been vital to keeping aligned, engaged, and supported.
Catch-up meetings have always been important. Yet, they can often be the first to be canceled when calendars become unruly and urgent projects take over. However, over the last 18 months, something has changed. The catch-up meeting has gained importance, even in the busiest of schedules.
Reclaim.ia, a productivity and time blocking app for Google Calendar, took a deep dive to understand the pandemics’ impact on catch-up meetings. The corresponding report aggregated the data comparing workweeks from pre-pandemic, February 2020 and current, October 2021 across 15,000 professionals. Some of the highlights of the report include:
- Catch-up meetings with employees have increased over 500% from February 2020 compared to October 2021
- The average employee (across individual contributors and people leaders) has, on average, 1.12 catch-up meetings per day, whereas pre-pandemic, they averaged less than one per week
- The average duration of a catch-up meeting is 42.9 minutes
- On average, employees spend 8.9% of their week in catch-up meetings
- The average employee attends or leads 278 catch-up meetings a year, compared to just 45 as of February 2020.
- 40.4% of catch-up meetings take place every week, while 25% take place bi-weekly and 18.4% are once-a-month
If you think this is too much time to spend one-on-one with employees, think again. Employees crave this individualized time with their boss, especially the younger employees. In fact, researchers found that 60% of Gen Z employees want their leader to touch base with them more than once throughout the week, and of those, 40% want to interact with their manager daily or several times throughout the day.
Knowing they have regularly scheduled time with their leader for a check-in meeting puts them at ease with an opportunity to connect, ask questions, and feel supported.
Given much time in already busy schedules is dedicated to check-in meetings, ensuring they’re a valuable use of time is of the utmost importance. So try a few of these catch-up meeting best practices to make the most of your next meeting time.
7 Catch-Up Meeting Best Practices
- Build Relationships
- Schedule Reoccurring Check-In Meetings (And Don’t Cancel Them)
- Have An Agenda But Be Flexible
- Get A Pulse Check On How They’re Feeling
- Share Feedback
- Discuss Professional Development
- Set Action Items
Check-in meetings are the perfect time to develop relationships and build trust, so the time together doesn't need to be solely dedicated to status updates. Rather, use the time to get to know your employees outside of work. Start the meeting with a free-flowing chat, prompted by questions, such as:
- What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
- What are you passionate about?
- What made you smile this week?
Be ThSchedule Reoccurring Check-In Meetings (and Don’t Cancel Them)
As noted earlier, direct reports need to know they have dedicated time with their leader. It benefits them by knowing they will have your full attention. It helps the leader as it diverts constant interruptions as employees will save non-urgent items for your time together.
However, the benefits mentioned above will be eliminated if the leader is unreliable and has a record of canceling check-in meetings. If you’ve ever worked for or with someone who was constantly rescheduling meetings with you, it leaves the impression you’re not very important to them, even if that is not the case.
Have An Agenda But Be Flexible
Creating and collaborating on the agenda for each meeting ensures that the time spent together addresses both the leader’s and the individual’s discussion points. It gives the check-in meeting a clear purpose. However, it shouldn’t be so rigid that conversations or critical topics are cut short.
Use a collaboration tool such as Google Docs or a private Slack channel to collaborate on the agenda and talking points between meetings to keep track of items as they arise.
Get A Pulse Check On How They’re Feeling
With so much VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) experienced by individuals at work and home since the start of 2020, getting a pulse check on how individuals are feeling during your check-in meetings is a good use of time. Find time in the meeting to ask questions like:
- How are you feeling?
- How would you describe your workload and work-life balance?
- Anything on your mind this week?
- What can I do to better support you?
Check-in meetings are an ideal opportunity to give and receive feedback. Feedback shouldn’t only be delivered by the leader. Individuals should feel open to providing feedback as well. However, the leader may need to ask a question like “Do you have any feedback for me?” or when discussing a particular scenario, asks the question, “What could I have done differently in this situation?”
Employees crave feedback from their leader, yet 44% of managers find delivering feedback stressful, with 21% outright avoiding it. If you find yourself amongst the 44% of managers, check out this guide designed to elevate the stress and anxiety many leaders experience when delivering feedback.
Discuss Professional Development
Professional goals and development plans shouldn’t come up once a year during the annual review. Instead, they should be discussed and have the progress tracked periodically during check-in meetings to ensure they’re on track and no changes need to be made to the plan.
These are critical conversations demonstrate a leader is invested in seeing their employees succeed. In fact, it was found that 82% of employees agreed they would be more engaged at work if their direct boss showed a greater interest in their career progression.
set action items
To see what was discussed in the meeting actioned, it is essential to take notes after decisions were made and accountabilities we assigned. Then, send a follow-up email post-catch-up meeting with what the leader and the individual agreed to do with due dates. Each individual in the catch-up meeting should hold the other one accountable.
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