A Complete Guide for Check-in Questions for Meetings

Improve your team meeting participation rates with these check-in questions. We discuss practical examples to boost productivity and foster a positive work culture by meeting type

Team Management

Ever felt like a total stranger at your team meeting? The awkward silence and the forced small talk would make anyone want to skip the meeting. But, there's a better way.

Check-in questions are like tuning into your team's frequency at the start of a meeting. They go beyond the typical "how's everyone doing?" to establish a connection with your employees. These questions are the icebreakers, allowing you to understand the perspective of your team members and warm everyone up in the meeting.  

This guide explores the science behind these check-in questions and their key characteristics. It provides different check-in questions to cultivate a more harmonious and efficient work environment. 

Let’s start!

Key Takeaways

  • Learn about the science behind team check-in questions
  • Understand the key characteristics that can help you craft impactful and fun check-in questions for meetings
  • Explore the various types of check-in questions tailored to a range of meetings and work life balance
  • Learn how to implement team check-in questions in team meetings to promote a healthy company culture

What are Check-In Questions?

Check-in questions can quickly set the tone, help you connect with your team, and help understand individual concerns better.

There's a reason why asking, "How's everyone doing today?” can initiate a positive response from your team members. Let's examine some of the studies supporting the vitality of check-in questions in the workplace. 

The Psychological Power of Belonging

Humans naturally yearn for social connection. It is deeply ingrained in our social nature. This is where check-in questions can play a vital role, creating a profound sense of belonging by acknowledging an individual's presence and viewpoints. 

A Harvard Business Review study found that 39% of participants felt a higher sense of belonging when asked questions about their personal and professional lives by their colleagues. This is because encouraging team members to share their thoughts openly allows them to feel secure in expressing themselves.

How Positivity Fuels Productivity and Retention

When we have positive interactions, our brain releases a chemical neuropeptide called oxytocin, which makes us feel more trusting, empathetic, and cooperative. This allows our brains to cooperate much better, creating an amiable work environment. 

96% of employees report that empathy is the most significant factor in employee retention. Surprisingly, only 50% of these employees view their employers as empathetic. But there’s no doubt that unhappy employees ultimately leave the company for a better work environment.

Contrarily, happy employees are 12% more productive than unhappy ones. Let’s not forget that check-in questions play a significant role in employee satisfaction. 

Key Characteristics of Effective Check-In Questions

Awkward silences in meetings can be difficult to sit through. Everyone looks at each other in an uncomfortable silence, unsure where to begin.

The trick is understanding the craft of creating questions that foster inclusion, are relevant and encourage vulnerability.

Here are 4 key characteristics of good check-in questions.

  1. They Promote Inclusion and Psychological Safety

Let’s imagine a meeting where everyone feels comfortable sharing their thoughts. 

This is where well-crafted check-in questions can come to the rescue by setting the tone for this openness. Avoiding questions that single anyone out or have a "right" answer.

Instead, focus on open-ended prompts that invite everyone to participate, regardless of experience or position. This creates a space where everyone feels valued and heard, leading to extended discussions and better collaboration.

  1. Tailored to Purpose and People

The best check-in questions connect directly to the meeting's purpose and the people in the room.  Think about the agenda; are you brainstorming new ideas? Wrapping up a project?  Design your questions accordingly. 

Considering your audience is also helpful. Are they a new team or an experienced group? New teams may not be comfortable with each other yet, so you might want to begin with icebreakers like "Share a fun fact about yourself!"  Ask established teams more profound questions like "What's one challenge you're facing right now?

  1. Balance Brevity and Depth

While you want to encourage thoughtful responses, time is precious to everyone

Don't go for long questions. Your team has work that they need to get to. Instead, go for questions that spark quick yet insightful answers. It's usually best to keep your responses short, around 2-3 minutes.

For example, if you want to check if your team is all set for a meeting, just ask, "How are you guys feeling about it?" It's quick and gets the job done.

  1. Promote Authenticity

The most important check-in questions go beyond small talk. They encourage participants to share their true selves, anxieties, and aspirations. This vulnerability establishes trust and connection within the team. That’s why you should opt for a question that propels personal reflection.

For instance, asking a question like, "What's one goal you're working towards outside of work?" allows you to connect with the employees meaningfully. But don’t forget that openness can only be driven if you are willing to be vulnerable. Your vulnerability, establishing a trustful bond, can encourage your teams to communicate with you openly.

Tailoring Check-In Questions to Different Meeting Types

Here's are a few instances where you can ask check in questions well being used for meetings.

Daily Stand-Up Meetings

Daily stand-up meetings are quick meetings that last around 15 minutes or less. These quick huddles allow everyone to sync up and focus on the important tasks. You can also use these meetings to ask team leaders check in questions for team meetings.

Example Questions

  1. What's one win you had yesterday? 
  2. Did anything come up yesterday that might impact your progress today? 
  3. Is there anything the team can help you with today?
  4. What's your main focus today? 

Weekly Team Meetings

Weekly meetings offer an opportunity to discuss the previous week's accomplishments. During these meetings, employers can openly discuss challenges and develop plans for the next week. 

Example Questions

  1. What were your key accomplishments from this past week? 
  2. What challenges did you encounter, and how did you overcome them?
  3. Are there any roadblocks or dependencies that might impact your work next week? 
  4. What are your top priorities for the upcoming week? 
  5. Do you have any suggestions for improving our team processes or collaboration? 

One-on-One Meetings

Managers, as well as employees, can engage more deeply during one-on-one sessions. This is a fantastic chance to discuss your professional objectives, offer helpful criticism, and resolve concerns.

Example Questions

  1. What was an accomplishment you were proud of recently?
  2. What are your biggest challenges or frustrations right now? 
  3. What are your long-term career goals? 
  4. How can I better support you in achieving your goals? 
  5. Is there anything specific you'd like feedback on? 

Project Kickoff and Retrospective Meetings

Project kickoff meetings have the power to set up the foundation for success. Establishing a goal-driven environment ensures the project's goals and expectations succeed.

Retrospectives are equally important because they give us a chance to celebrate our wins, reflect on what went well, and figure out how to do even better next time. 

Project Kickoff Meeting Example Questions

  1. What are your initial thoughts on the project goals? 
  2. What are your fundamental concerns or potential roadblocks you foresee? 
  3. What skills or expertise can you bring to the table? 

Project Retrospective Meeting Example Questions

  1. What went well during this project? 
  2. What challenges did we encounter, and how could we have handled them differently? 
  3. What learnings can we take from this project to improve future endeavors? 

Remote and Hybrid Virtual Meetings

It’s easier to engage a team physically. But being in touch with remote teams or hybrid teams can be a challenge. That is why regular check-ins are important to ensure that all the other teams are aligned.

So, here are a few check-in questions that can help bridge the physical gap and establish a sense of belonging. You can also use these in daily stand ups or for team bonding.

Example Questions

  1. How are you feeling today? 
  2. What's one thing you're looking forward to this week (work or personal)? 
  3. What are some ways we can improve our virtual team building or communication? 
  4. How has your collaboration with the team been this week while working remotely/in hybrid setting? 
  5. Are there any challenges you face while working remotely/in a hybrid setting? 
  6. Is there anything specific you need help with from the team this week? 
  7. Did you have any big or small wins you'd like to share this week? 
  8. Have you recently learned a new tool or skill that could benefit the team?

4 Tips For Implementing Check-In Questions

Here are a few tips on how remote work to maintain work life balance in your team with team building activities and fun check in questions.

1. Set the Right Tone and Expectations

Before starting with check-in questions, set the stage for a safe and open environment. Don’t just ask the question and expect the response; you’ll only meet blank stares.

Instead, explain the purpose of the questions to the employees. Ensure the team knows how their input (or feedback) will improve the project/workforce.

Letting everyone know it's okay to share wins (big or small!), ask for help, or even admit they're stuck is crucial. This sets a positive and collaborative tone for the whole team, building trip entire meeting.

2. Ensure Equal Participation and Active Listening

Check-in questions shouldn't turn into a one-person show. But, it can be challenging to involve everyone on the team. Sure, the talkative employee might be more open to communication.

But what if you have a shy team member?

Involving everyone in the conversation ensures equal participation, so here are a few ways: 

  • Go around the room: This ensures everyone can speak, including the quiet ones who rarely utter a word during meetings. 
  • Randomize the order: Mixing up can effectively randomize who speaks first to keep things fair and exciting. If you're used to going alphabetical, do reverse in the next meeting.
  • Use technology: Some employees prefer openly communicating anonymously, especially for delicate issues. Several platforms allow employers to ensure anonymous check-in (and feedback) to foster a transparent workplace. 
  • Actively listen: Want to know the most effective way to win the trust of your employees? Active listening. This means making eye contact, nodding, and offering encouraging prompts to show genuine interest in what each team member has to say.

3. Handle Sensitive/ Unexpected Responses

Check-in questions will not always invoke the response you were expecting. Dealing with unpleasant or unexpected responses is crucial to maintaining an amicable work atmosphere, especially as a leader. Here's how you can navigate those situations:

  • Stay calm and professional: Don't get flustered or defensive. Acknowledge their response and express your support.
  • Offer one-on-one time: If the issue seems personal or requires further discussion, suggest having a separate conversation without the presence of all the team members. 
  • Respect boundaries: If someone seems uncomfortable elaborating, don't pry. If necessary, move on to the next person and address the issue privately.

4. Follow Up on Action Items and Insights

Don't let those valuable check-in answers disappear into the black hole! There are so many ways to ensure that the check-in leads to decisive actions.

You can: 

  • Briefly recap the main points discussed at the end of the meeting.
  • Show the employees that you’ve heard their concerns by taking action. 
  • Recognize and acknowledge the progress made on action items during the following check-ins.

5. Be Open to Improving and Adapting Check-In Questions

The best check-in questions are dynamic, not static. To keep them relevant, ask at the end of meetings if the questions were helpful and encouraged participation. This allows you to gather feedback and improve the strategy. 

Don't rely on the same questions all the time. Rotate through various questions based on the meeting type and team dynamics and needs.

Similarly, learn from the takeaways. Which questions elicit insightful responses? Note those and incorporate them in discussions. Last but not least, don’t forget to encourage your team to suggest new questions they find helpful or interesting.

Final Word

Check-in questions can turn uncomfortable and awkward team meetings into exciting team talks. These questions help us feel more connected with the workforce, leading to boosted productivity and employee satisfaction. 

But it's not enough to just ask the questions. We also need to listen carefully and do something about what we learn. This ensures that everyone will feel respected and understood at work. 

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We make everything smooth so you can focus on your team. With Knit, you can also use check-in questions to make your team feel more connected.  

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