Finding Your Check-in’s Purpose

As we’ve explored, check-ins urge groups toward higher performance. On the way, they help people increase commitment to their work, sharpen their focus, create greater psychological safety, and build stronger relationships.

The question now becomes, why do you want to conduct a check-in at this particular meeting? What’s your specific intention?

Knowing the purpose of your check-in not only enables you to create one that works, it makes you more confident and clear when you lead it.

The range of potential goals for a check-in is wide, and includes enabling group members to:

  • Turn away from other concerns and focus on the work at hand
  • Become accustomed to speaking in the meeting
  • Express their personal goals for the meeting
  • Experience a sense of agency over the meeting and its outcome
  • Feel more comfortable working together
  • Build stronger relationships
  • Be more open and honest
  • Feel energized and engaged
  • Pause to reflect upon their work and their learning
  • Learn from one another
  • Ignite (or reignite) their passion and optimism for their work
  • Access insights about the best way to address specific challenges
  • Anchor themselves in the real-life experiences that motivate them
  • Voice concerns about their work
  • Have fun

You may aspire to meet more than one of these goals with a single check-in.

Consider your group: of all the potential benefits of check-ins, what would be most useful to this group at this moment in time? Your answer, even if it is just a hunch, will help you determine the work the check-in should do.

Hold Up! Are You Sure That Meeting Is Necessary?

When surveyed about the most significant obstacles to getting their work done, people consistently list “wasteful meetings” at the top of the list.

As you consider the purpose of your check-in, it might first be useful to take a fresh look at the purpose of your meeting. Does it have a powerful and engaging one? Are there alternate and perhaps more efficient approaches to meet your goals? Is the meeting even necessary?

One popular guide for planning effective meetings is the “4 P” model, which urges every meeting initiator to clarify the following before calling a meeting:

Purpose: Is there a clear and compelling objective for the meeting (i.e., making a decision, sharing information, exploring different perspectives, building community)? If there isn’t, then don’t have the meeting.
Process: What process is best suited to meet your purpose (an open discussion? a presentation? a series of brief reports from those present?) Perhaps a detailed email will serve your purpose better?
Product: What is the expected outcome of the meeting (a clearer understanding of the issues, an experimental design, a decision, a more connected team, a detailed plan of action)?
People: Who needs to be there in order to accomplish the purpose (and equally important, who doesn’t)?

Before planning your check-in, always ensure that the fundamentals of your meeting are sound. If participants don’t understand and commit to your meeting’s purpose, if the content isn’t engaging, if leaders talk just to hear themselves speak, if key decision makers aren’t present, then merely appending a check-in to the front end won’t make much of a difference.

Consider the 4 P’s when planning, and you’ll find you hold more effective (and fewer) meetings.