June 26, 2023 | Project, Program, Portfolio Management
When is the last time you asked a colleague, without any hidden agenda, how are you doing? There’s no question that we’ve lost some connection over the last three years working in a more virtual environment. We’re so focused on getting things done that we often forget to take a step back and check in with ourselves and the people around us. That’s where the “art of the check-in” comes in. In this blog, we’ll explore the benefits of checking in and offer some tips for mastering this important practice. For insight into this topic, I interviewed Lake Shore Associate’s (LSA’s) very own Frank Carrera. Frank has mastered the art of the check-in – to me, it is his super power.
In a recent Harvard Business Review article, research found that employees crave genuine connections not just with their colleagues, but also across hierarchies within their organization. More specifically, when someone feels that their relationship with their manager is authentic, and that their manager wants to give them the tools they need to successfully do their job, that person is less stressed, more satisfied, and more likely to stay at the company.
I turned to our expert Frank to learn more.
So, what exactly is a check-in? At its core, a check-in is simply taking the time to connect with someone to see how they’re doing. It can be a quick conversation or a longer chat, but the goal is always the same: to show that you care and to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Sounds simple, right? Yet many leaders skip it. They become consumed with things they deem more pressing.
What are the benefits of checking in? For one, it helps to build relationships and foster a sense of community. When people feel that they are valued and appreciated, they are more likely to be engaged and productive. Additionally, checking in can help to identify potential problems before they become bigger issues. By staying aware of what’s going on, you can address concerns and find solutions before they escalate.
What are the hallmarks of a bad check-in? Using it as a time to review deliverables or ask for a status on a specific topic. This is also not the time to talk about a performance issue or a client escalation specific to the person. Finally, a check-in on one individual should not be asking questions about another team member to obtain feedback.
What are a few tips from Frank to get started?
|Be consistent. Checking in shouldn’t be a one-time event – it should be a regular part of your routine. Set aside time each day or week to connect with the people around you. Many of us are still virtual; this has become the modern-day open-door policy.
|Listen actively. When you’re checking in with someone, make sure you’re really listening to what they have to say. Show that you care by asking questions and responding with empathy. A check-in should be agenda-free and open. Make sure your Teams or Slack notifications don’t distract you while you’re listening.
|Be present. Learn about the person beyond the work. Build that trust and people will open up. I like to learn about our associates’ hobbies, kids, and passions outside work – if they want to share. I am dialed in with no distractions. This shows that you value the other person’s time and that they have your full attention.
|Be visible. At LSA we ask that all client and associate interactions are on video. This becomes even more important for the check-in to see them face-to-face so I can pick up on non-verbal cues.
|Be genuine. I want our associates to know that I really care. I want to help in any way that I can. Consulting is a people business, it’s my job to come from a place of genuine concern. People can tell when you’re just going through the motions, so make sure you’re checking in because you truly care.
In conclusion, the art of the check-in is a critical yet easy way to strengthen relationships, identify potential problems, and foster a sense of community. By making it a regular part of your routine and following these simple tips, you can master this skill and create a more positive and productive work environment. So why not take a few minutes to check in with someone today? You never know what kind of impact it might have.
For more information on how Lake Shore Associates can help you with your project management needs, visit www.lakeshore.is.
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