7 May 2019

How Check-Ins Help Everyone Stay on Track

Female runners racing on a race track

Think back to the jobs you have left. What made you decide to move on?

Sometimes we receive an offer that’s too good to refuse. But unless you were headhunted out of the blue, something made you read that job ad and fill in the application form. Nobody does that if they are fully content in their current position.

Whatever the issue was that made you look elsewhere, chances are it was fixable. Perhaps if you’d had the chance to sit down and talk about it, you might have got to the bottom of it, fixed it, and stuck around instead. But when we don’t have a way of discussing how work is really going on a regular basis, these problems remain forever unresolved.

The importance of nipping problems in the bud

When you have a problem at work unless you talk about it straight away, it will get bigger with time, it will fester, and if left long enough, it will threaten your happiness and wellbeing at work. Ultimately, it could be the reason that you hand in your notice.

This problem could be an unreasonably heavy workload or perhaps a feeling that you’d rather be doing something that better suits your skills and interests. Perhaps you feel bored, and like you need to be challenged more; or on the contrary, you may feel overwhelmed and out of your depth. It could be an issue with a colleague, with your working conditions, or a lack of career development opportunities.

Whatever it is, this problem is blocking your ability to fully engage in your work. But if talked about at an early stage, most issues can be resolved. All it takes is an informal chat at the right time.

Check-ins keep you on track

This is where check-ins can make a huge difference to our happiness at work – and ultimately our desire to stick around. By giving employees a chance to discuss any issues they may be having, they can work together with their manager to put them right – before they grow into something insurmountable.

To visualise this process, imagine a metaphorical path that represents everything that we want from work: job satisfaction, happiness, wellbeing, productivity, engagement, achievement, personal growth and development.

The goal for any employer is to keep their employees on this path. But from time to time, an employee will veer off the path a little. This is to be expected – after all, no job is perfect.

In a company that has adopted regular check-ins, each time an issue causes an employee to stray from the path, the check-in process nudges them back on to it. Keeping the employee on track is an ongoing process, and over time it allows managers and employees to make small adjustments designed to make work more engaging, productive, and rewarding.

Without regular check-ins, seemingly small issues can grow into all-consuming problems, as the employee wanders further and further from the path. Eventually, it becomes impossible for them to find their way back. The result? A disengaged employee looking for a new job.

The simplest solutions are often the best

The beauty of check-ins is their simplicity. They increase employee engagement, productivity, and happiness by promoting simple, honest, regular and open communication between employees and their managers.

Rather than looking to complicated corporate strategies to improve results, they give employees a voice, and an opportunity to play a central role in shaping their experience of work. When a problem arises, an employee’s first thought can be ‘I can discuss this in my next check-in,’ instead of ‘my job sucks.’

Think back again to those jobs you have left. How many of them would you have stayed in if you had had the chance to discuss what was bothering you at an early stage? If that problem had been fixed, would you have been so keen to leave?

Now, just think how many people in your organisation could go from potential flight risks to satisfied, fully engaged employees if you introduced check-ins.

Nick Edwards

Nick Edwards is a Content Writer at MHR

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