As a remote team manager, you might find yourself solving problems like lack of team initiative, team cohesiveness, and even team participation. The truth is that remote conversations can be awkward as there’s a lack of face-to-face interaction or the serendipity of water cooler conversations.
It’s Monday at 8 am, and most of your team are still on weekend mode and maybe not fully ready for the first check-in of the week. Why would you even need a check-in first thing Monday morning?
Why are team check-ins important?
Remote work comes with some challenges, and the team’s lack of sync is one of them. In a previous blog post, we quickly discussed some of the benefits of asynchronous communication, but it also comes with disadvantages, such as employees working on different initiatives or bugs still to be noticed. That’s why check-ins are necessary for the sake of projects and also to check on the team’s well-being.
Here are some common remote team check-ins ideas:
- KPIs and goals revisions.
- Check the team's workload and workflows.
- Team member’s ownership definition.
- Weekly recaps.
- Bugs or roadblocks revisions.
- Team engagement activities.
- Performing last revisions of results.
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The most useful team check-in questions for remote work in 2022
What’s your priority right now?
This is especially relevant for the early-week check-ins. It’s fairly common that employees start the week with unclear priorities, leading to delays in the project. However, don’t make it all about work. Start the conversation with something fun — like an icebreaker question — to cheer people up and set the mood for a productive week.
After that, you can start by asking each team member what they’re prioritizing for the week and how it aligns with the overall strategy.
New to remote management? Here’s the ultimate guide to managing remote teams efficiently.
Do you have any blockers? Anything I can help you with?
This is a tricky check-in question, as this question can often be interpreted as “I know you’re doing it wrong” and people might get defensive.
Instead, you can build trust by encouraging people to describe the issue and who’s involved, and suggest how the problem could be solved.
Here’s an example:
Alright, I understand now. I want to mention you’ve been doing an excellent job prioritizing the screen fixes for mobile. So if I were you, I’d talk to Noah, the head of programming, about the design handoff to the most junior members of his team. Explain the situation and include me if you need to.
What would you like to focus on next?
Good managers get projects done successfully. Great managers also empower other team members to become a better version of themselves. This means that the fewer managers are needed in an organization, the better for teams.
Ask proactively team members what they would like to focus on next, instead of presetting expectations and deadlines to them. At the end of the day, they’re the ones doing the job most of the time, while you as a manager oversee operations and make sure everything is running smoothly. Team members might have a better idea of how to move next, so make sure to add this question as part of the check-ins.
How large is your team? If your team is larger than 10 team members, daily check-ins are surely 1 hour long or even longer. How can you guarantee productive time? Try having written check-ins! Startups and Fortune 500 companies like Adobe, Pixar and Walmart are already doing it. Check it out →
Bonus: Include Icebreaker questions in your regular check-ins.
Nowadays, people are not in just for the payment. They want to feel like part of a bigger idea and feel like active contributors. So don’t make everything about work! Instead, include engaging icebreaker questions in your daily check-in routines and make a huge difference in how teams grow together over time.