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3 Tips to Improve Your Team Check-in Meetings

018Team check-ins can be fun!

Meetings are a necessary evil, they can be time sinks and productivity black holes—we’ve heard it all. Yet, meetings can be fun. Done right, they will keep your team engaged, foster open communication, and help them collaborate more effectively. 

Team check-in meetings (often called stand-ups), are popular among smaller distributed teams, but they work equally well for folks working from the same office. Regular team check-ins can help you identify problems before they arise, formulate solutions collaboratively, and keep your projects ahead of schedule. 

Whether you’re a team of software developers building a cool app or marketers working on a product launch, here are a few tips to improve your team check-ins.

1. Clearly define the purpose of your team check-ins

Why are you meeting? Is it to review work on a project or discuss challenges? Is it to share feedback or for brainstorming? Clearly defining the purpose of your team check-ins and setting an agenda helps avoid miscommunication, aligns team members towards specific goals, and keeps meetings on track.

For example, teams at Flock use check-ins to:

  • Share updates on team OKRs (objectives and key results) and progress made
  • Discuss ongoing projects and address challenges
  • Share what each participant is working on and ask for help if needed

Setting an agenda and sticking to it also keeps check-ins from going off-topic. When required, set up smaller meetings for brainstorming so team check-ins stay true to their purpose. It also keeps your team check-ins short and structured! :) 

In addition to discussing ongoing tasks, use check-ins to surface issues faced by team members and resolve blockers preventing them from getting things done. Don’t have a quick fix for an issue? Document it and seek help from the rest of your team on devising a solution. It’s okay to not have all the answers. 

2. Find a check-in cadence that works for your team

Flock is a distributed team with members in Boston, Mumbai, and Bengaluru, so in-person meetings are a luxury. Instead, we do team check-ins using Flock’s video conferencing

We used to do daily check-ins at first, but as the team grew and got more comfortable working with each other, we moved to a weekly check-in schedule. Now, we meet once a week for half an hour to discuss ongoing projects, address challenges/roadblocks, and share what each team member is working on for the week.

There’s no single “right” frequency for team check-ins, but it’s important to meet regularly. It creates a habit, builds accountability, and helps team members take stock without being distracted from their day-to-day grind. After a few check-ins, you’ll determine the right cadence for your team. The point is to just get started and the rest will follow.

3. Document everything and always follow-up

If it’s not documented, it’s not done. Make sure to take notes during team check-ins, list individual and collective action items, and link to specific documents/project files as required. Good documentation leads to more efficient meetings, which helps participants keep track of what’s going on and making it easy to review progress. 

You don’t even need to get fancy with expensive tools to document team check-ins. For example, we use a shared Google Doc to takes notes during team check-ins. Topics discussed during the meeting go into a bullet list and we jot down action items for each participant. Once these tasks are completed, we use strike-through formatting to cross them out. It’s literally that easy. Oh, and don’t forget the follow-up!

Regardless of how you document team check-ins, doing so pays rich dividends. Frequent, structured, and well-documented check-ins will help your team members take stock, track progress, address blockers, and collaborate more efficiently and effectively. 

Productivity, Communication

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