A regular Check-in meeting is the most effective success driver of any OKR process. The Check-in is a brief meeting with the purpose of talking about progress and learnings as well as to reveal where mutual support is needed. It ensures continuous feedback and learning, currentness of data, accountability, and a high level of engagement within teams.
If you want to know more about the OKR framework, take a look at our article "Objectives and Key Results (OKR) - A Definition"
Why Check-in Meetings?
Quick Check-in meetings should be used to establish a continuous rhythm of giving feedback and tracking progress in your teams. They not just help sharing insights and learnings. But they also drive engagement and emphasize responsibilities in a work environment of autonomy and decentralized decision-making.
Since projects and tasks are discussed with regard to their contributions to current goals, Check-in meetings also help fostering effective self-organization and the strategic relevance of work allocation. This helps to maintain a clear value orientation for all tasks set.
It is important to understand that Check-ins are not about adding additional meetings. But about making existing meetings more efficient, data-driven and result-oriented. This is done by focusing on important priorities and value contributions and by having all participants on one page with regards to what is to be talked about through a short preparation. Most organizations therefore integrate OKR Check-in meetings weekly or bi-weekly into their existing meetings.
Timing and Structure
A Check-in meeting is not a planning meeting but meant to provide an update for every team member in regular intervals during the OKR cycle. Therefore, it shouldn't take too long and kept rather short. As a guideline you can try to set a time limit like five minutes per team member, for example. This will help you to keep the meeting concise and to the point.
In each Check-in, the team discusses the latest achievements, learnings as well as roadblocks and how they can be tackled. Tasks and priorities for the next week(s) are being planned. The Workpath platform assists your Check-ins by being a one-stop for gathering data from all participants, so that you have a quick overview about what needs to be discussed and what does not. In this way, you can ensure that Check-ins are well-prepared, data are up-to-date and all participants are prepared. This can help save users up to 50% of their time in this meeting format. It also allows to link each team member's activity to their goals which ensures focus.
To keep your presentation brief and useful, try to structure it reasonably:
- Outline your OKR progress and the thereof dependent future success.
- Then, discuss the (potential) obstacles with your team members and
- finally clarify expectations, how you should proceed and what actions are planned next.
If you discovered new dependencies with or need support from other team members, address them directly and define how you should continue to collaborate.
Templates filled with the right questions can help you to structure your Check-ins. Ask yourself e.g.:
- What did you work on this week?,
- What are your plans and priorities for next week? and
- What did you learn this week? Are there any roadblocks that the team can help you with?
Hereby, there is for sure no best solution and no one-size-fits-all. As a team you should find out yourself, which kind of agenda and formulation of questions fits your organization best and supports your Check-ins most effectively. In general, it is important that you create an atmosphere, where also problems can be shared and a result-oriented and trustful exchange can take place.
Before each Check-in, reflect on what you want to share and get out of it. Try to think of how you can describe your tasks, priorities and roadblocks concisely and in a way that allows others to provide you not just with praise and critique, but constructive suggestions for improvement or problem solving. This will also help to keep the meetings efficient and in an adequate, relatively short time frame. If you stick to a constant and coherent structure, you will also become faster in the preparation and execution of your meetings.
Successful Check-ins will link your tasks and initiatives to strategic goals in order to support focus, clarity, and purpose at work for all employees. This can help to increase employees´ commitment to and motivation towards their tasks. They furthermore help to document updates and progress developments in one place to assess and manage performance, engagement and focus. Moreover, they promote the clarification of expectations, eliminate planning redundancies and inefficiencies and create a continuous flow of constructive feedback.
How Can I Introduce Check-in Meetings?
If you want to start leveraging Check-in meetings yourself, follow these steps to ensure an efficient process:
- find a time in the week where your whole team can participate
- set a regular cadence (ideally weekly or bi-weekly)
- set up a fixed structure that allows to address all problems and discuss every team members' tasks
- don't be afraid to iterate on your format if you feel it needs improvement
Oftentimes Check-ins are overloaded by participants´ presentations with a list of all the tasks they worked on. Instead, use the opportunity to interact in a result-driven manner and have a conversation that helps you to further drive the development and achievement of your OKRs. Accordingly, you should rather sensibly summarize the completed tasks since the last Check-in. Moreover, the Check-in preparation should rather be a tracking option for you and your own OKRs and thereby foster high data quality.