Yearly performance reviews are not enough to analyze the performance of employees. It is important that the management moves over to 1:1 performance check-in meeting that happen multiple times a year. These check-in meetings offer continuous guidance, feedback, and learning to employees.
Here are some ways to conduct an effective 1:1 performance check-in meeting:
1:1 performance check-in meetings are ongoing discussions between the manager and the employees that capture information about goals, work progress, plan of action, and roadblocks regularly at set interval periods.
Instead of reviewing an employee’s performance just once a year (performance review processes), ongoing check-in meetings help provide continuous feedback to the employee and give a broader idea of the accomplishments done over the year.
For a long time now, various studies and surveys conducted on the efficiency of traditional yearly performance review meetings have established one fact – neither the employees nor the management feel the process of reviewing an employee once a year to be effective.
In fact, about 90% of employees say that they either do not provide accurate information during the review or forget to mention vital growth updates during the process.
Here are some of the benefits of conducting regular 1:1 performance check-in meetings.
Since performance check-in meetings happen multiple times a year, a manager can easily keep track of the growth progress, identify obstacles, and provide regular feedback to the employee.
Imagine working hard on a project all year long only to realize your management wanted something else from you. Sometimes, employees are not able to differentiate between high priority and lesser priority goals. With regular check-in meetings, it is easy for the manager to course correct the employee.
With continuous feedback and check-ins from the management, it is easy for the employee to stay aligned with the goals of the management and work parallelly.
An employee feels important and empowered after regularly spending time with the manager. These check-in discussions also help employee get a greater understanding of their contribution to the organization priorities. This helps employees align with the purpose of the organization which leads to greater and improved engagement.
Recording gradual progression – It is impossible to talk about all the achievements and progress that happened in a year in a one-hour performance review meeting. However, when you have multiple regular check-in meetings, the manager can record growth at every stage and this makes a better database to refer to during appraisals.
The first step to conducting an effective 1:1 performance check-in meeting is to create a schedule. Managers are free to make their schedules these days depending on how it works for them and their team. Some managers find it useful to talk to their employees once a week. Others schedule 1:1 meetings once a month. However, it is important to create a schedule that does not pressurize your team. Studies show that organization running quarterly goals are most effective when they schedule a monthly 1:1 meeting and the ones using monthly goals should schedule 1:1 meeting every week to maintain the velocity of business outcomes.
When you have an agenda in advance, you will spend time discussing things that matter. It will also give the employee time to get prepared to attend the meeting.
It is better to start the meeting with icebreaker questions to help build a positive rapport. You can ask the employee how his/her week was and if anything interesting was happening with him/her. It takes just a few minutes to build an understanding, but this is important to ensure a healthy 1:1 performance check-in meeting.
Many managers make the mistake of asking short and precise questions that require a simple yes or no answer. The idea behind the 1:1 performance check-in meetings is to encourage the employees to discuss and talk about their achievements and challenges. Therefore, it helps to ask open-ended questions that give the employee a chance to answer in detail.
Short term/interim goals are created as a step by step approach to accomplish the larger outcomes or goals. For example, it could be reducing the number of overall bugs in the code, creating a healthy prospect pipeline in view of the targets to be achieved, developing a smaller module in the product architecture, etc. Bring forward short-term/interim goals discussed in the last meeting and find out if they were achieved/addressed. If not, try talking to the employee about what prevented him/her from achieving that objective.
Do not forget to ask the employee about his/her long-term goals during the 1:1 check-in meetings. Planning and discussing long-term goals keep up the morale and also act as an employee-retention factor. This helps the employee grow as an individual and a team member.
Many managers also like revising the goals of employees. Does the business dynamics warrant a change in the long-term employee goals? If so, is it still aligned with the goals of the team and the company? These are a few questions to discuss at this stage.
What do the employees think of their team in general? Are the team members working in tandem? Is a particular employee not happy with his/her colleagues? Grievance addressing and ensuring amicability between team members are both important during these 1:1 meetings.
The 1:1 performance check-in meetings are not just conversations over a cup of coffee. These are meetings that need to be recorded and the data collected should be used over the year. You can use a dedicated tool that maintains such details. This information can be used during the overall performance review process that happens once a year.
At the end of the meeting, summarize the points that were discussed and give the employees action items to take back to work on until the next review process. Many managers think recaps are a waste of time. However, studies show that they help clarify misunderstandings and create action items that both parties consider important.
The employee mustn’t feel rushed through the process. If he/she gets a feeling that the process is not being taken seriously by the manager, the urge to attend the meetings will be lost. The manager must give the employee ample time to go through the happenings of the previous week(s) and address points that he/she feels are important.
While performance appraisal that happens at the end of a cycle is still important, the inputs for these reviews need to be collected throughout the year and not just a couple of days in advance. When 1:1 performance check-in meetings are taken seriously, they can improve the morale and work efficiency of the employees, and give the management a broader idea of what is happening within the team. Regular 1:1 meetings push forward low performers and encourage top performers to do even better.
Such check-in meetings make review processes more meaningful and ensure continuous learning and feedback are provided to the human capital of the company. According to some studies, they also reduce turnover costs over a period of time.