Your employees are gathered for your meeting. You walk into the room (or start the Zoom call), and the conversation slows. You say, “OK, let’s get started,” and everyone’s attention shifts to the topic at hand. But jumping right into your meeting’s topic doesn’t allow your employees to transition into work mode. To gauge your team’s morale and show your support, consider asking everyone present some interesting check-in questions to ease into the discussion.
- What is a check-in question?
- How do check-in questions help a meeting?
- The best check-in questions by meeting type
- Check-in meeting agenda templates
What is a check-in question?
A check-in question is what you ask at the start of a meeting to encourage conversation among attendees. It helps you measure how your attendees are feeling individually or in relation to their work responsibilities. Asking and discussing a check-in question doesn’t have to take up a large amount of time in your meeting, just enough to get the conversation started.
How do check-in questions help a meeting?
Check-in questions allow you and your team to briefly engage in a conversation that’s a little less formal than the rest of your meeting. Starting your meetings with these questions can help you:
- Encourage participation. Asking check-in questions can help meeting attendees feel more comfortable contributing to the conversation. It can keep the discussion flowing and encourage quieter group members to speak up.
- Consider your attendees. Getting answers to your check-in questions can give you an idea of how your attendees are feeling about their work. Their responses can help you determine if you need to make adjustments to their responsibilities.
- Show you care. Check-in questions show your attendees that you care about them as people, not just as employees. Try asking open-ended questions to build rapport with your employees. These questions prompt people to put their thoughts into layered, insightful responses instead of replying with a simple yes or no.
- Track your team’s progress. A check-in question about a work-related project invites employees to share their progress and ask their own questions. This discussion gives you a better idea of how a project is going and can point to any concerns you need to address.
- Help group members get to know each other. Getting everyone talking before a meeting can build trust among team members. When colleagues share their thoughts or experiences, everyone gets to learn about each other. It’s a team-building method that just feels like a normal conversation.
The best check-in questions by meeting type
There are all kinds of check-in questions for all kinds of meetings. As you prepare for your next meeting, set aside some time in your meeting agenda to ask these questions before the bigger conversation begins in earnest. Below are the best check-in questions you can ask based on the type of meeting you’re having.
- Project check-in meetings
- One-on-one meetings
- Daily stand-ups
- Team meetings
- Feedback meetings
- Icebreaker questions
1 Questions for project check-in meetings
Project check-in meetings help you track your team’s progress on assigned tasks and ask how they’re feeling about their responsibilities. Your loose goal with these questions is to show team members that you’re there to support them as a mentor, as a manager, and as a leader. Sure, maybe not every team leader hangs out with their colleagues outside work, but the best leaders are as approachable, trusted, and comforting as longtime confidantes.
Project check-in meeting questions determine whether your team members are pulling their weight and, if not, where challenges have arisen. You can then work with your team to distribute tasks more evenly and provide any resource necessary. Your questions also give your team members a chance to (humble)brag about their accomplishments. And that always feels good.
For these meetings, ask check-in questions like:
- When have you felt you weren’t able to keep up your deadlines?
- What challenges have you faced with your tasks this week?
- What are you most excited to accomplish during this project?
- How are you handling your workload?
- What resources do you need to better accomplish your tasks?
Hold regular check-ins for all of your meetings and never forget what was discussed by having your history of notes easily accessible with a tool like Fellow!
2 Questions for one-on-one meetings
A one-on-one meeting is an opportunity to directly connect with an employee to discuss expectations, priorities, and any issues they’re facing. They give employees a chance to air concerns they wouldn’t want to share in front of a group. In essence, they create privacy for employees that they can’t always get in shared office spaces, while providing dedicated time to approach you so they don’t feel like they’re pestering you with questions and requests. And we surely don’t have to explain why privacy is so valuable – there are things you don’t share with your team, and for good reason.
One-on-one meeting check-in questions also allow employees to ask you questions too. After all, teamwork isn’t a one-way street – your employees should get to ask things of you too. You should each expect to receive and provide constructive, kindly delivered feedback on each other, and the following questions can help:
- How are you acclimating to your role?
- What can we do to better support your career goals?
- How do you best receive feedback about your work?
- What have you been working on lately?
- What accomplishments have made you proud recently?
3 Questions for daily stand-ups
A daily stand-up meeting, also known as a scrum, brings a team together at the start of a workday. During this meeting, your team will talk about the prior day’s accomplishments and their objectives for today. It’s a lot to cover in so little time, so starting things on the right foot is your top priority. Daily stand-up meeting check-in questions can help you do so.
The right check-in questions for scrum meetings address yesterday’s achievements, today’s goals, any teamwork needs, and any potential challenges. This way, everything your team needs to know for the day gets clearly laid out in the open. It also gets put out there quickly, so you and your team can sprint right into your work. The motivation that accompanies that rush just can’t be underestimated.
Great daily stand-up meeting check-in questions include:
- What did you accomplish yesterday?
- What are your priorities for the day?
- How do you plan to approach your goals today?
- What obstacles could hinder you from achieving your tasks today?
- Who will you need to collaborate with for your assignments?
4 Questions for team meetings
Team meetings serve many purposes and can span several topics. Seriously – just think about the sheer breadth of the term “team meeting.” All it tells you is that your team is meeting. What exactly are you talking about? What are your goals for this meeting?
The answer can be anything and everything, so much so that your team meeting check-in questions can steer the course for the meeting’s purpose. The questions you ask can determine whether your meeting will be focused on productivity, creativity, motivation, or some other work matter. Example questions include:
- What suggestions do you have for improving productivity?
- When do you feel most creative at work?
- What’s motivating you most right now?
- How has your work-life balance been?
- What’s one thing you would change about your current role?
5 Questions for feedback meetings
Holding a feedback meeting creates space for your employees to share how they’re performing in their roles and where you can offer suggestions for improvement. These meetings are two-way streets, and so too should be your check-in questions. You’re not there solely to tell your employees how to do better – you’re there to learn what you can do better too. And of course, everyone present at the meeting benefits from positive reinforcement as well.
Feedback meeting check-in questions pave the way for conversations about employee needs, growth, goals, improvement, and supervision. Ask them the right way, and your team members will walk away from the meeting feeling inspired instead of intimidated. Start with the following questions:
- How can I be more helpful to you?
- How do you feel you’ve grown since you started working here?
- What are some goals you set for yourself at the start of your role?
- How do you think you can improve in your role?
- How often do you feel you need to receive feedback from your managers?
6 Icebreaker questions to use at meetings
Meeting icebreakers are a great way to build rapport with your team. More than that, they help you cross that awkward bridge between “Oh, we’re all here” and “Wait, what do we even say?” Once you’ve all crossed that bridge together, your meeting, no matter its topic, can begin in earnest.
The key with icebreaker questions is to keep them informal and unrelated to work. Ask these questions to spark fun conversation and learn even more about who your employees are outside of the office. Sure, the best team leaders already know their employees beyond work to some extent, but there’s always more to learn!
Great icebreaker meeting check-in questions include:
- What did you do this weekend?
- What dish would you bring to a company dinner?
- What is your secret talent?
- How many places have you lived?
- What is one thing you’ve always wanted to do?
Check-in meeting agenda templates
Check-in meeting template
Project check-in template
Daily standup meeting template
Just checking in
Check-in questions can serve several purposes, including supporting employees, tracking progress, and prompting light conversation before meetings. Plan to incorporate a question or two into your next meeting to get your team active and ready for the rest of the discussion. No matter the meeting type, Fellow offers extensive advice and tons of meeting tools that can help make planning your meetings as easy as choosing a check-in question.