Why lockdown was the best thing to happen to employee check-ins

Roly Walter
14th June 2020

Let me get this straight: the reasons behind the lockdown are appalling and for many families, horrific.

In this article, though, I want to highlight the effect mass remote-working has had on employee check-ins and manager one-to-ones, and what huge opportunities there are to change the way we manage our teams for the better.

I know a lot of HR people will think this is controversial... but hear me out:

When all this is over, I suspect that a lot of people will go back to their offices, but on reduced schedules. There may be 'bubbles', groups of people organised around functions or projects who need to meet. So it's quite likely that many of us will continue to work remotely for a significant proportion of the week.

So what effect will this have on the way managers get the best out of their team members? What effect will this have on the vital check-in or one-to-one time?

Here's my proposal: I believe that we should be asking managers to consider conducting their 1:1s over a video call, and not in their precious day they're allowed in the office. Use that time for group collaboration, team working, things that require many people to be together.

But when you're working from home, you're relaxed, comfortable, not on edge.

It's the perfect time to have a video call with your manager or coach. No need to book a stuffy, corporate meeting room. Just grap your cup of tea, sit on your sofa with your laptop and start the call.

I have found that video check-ins work brilliantly with the people I manage. I have found people become more expansive, happier to share their real feelings, anxieties and ideas. They've brought me closer to my team members, and I'm grateful for it. I now know more about their home lives and other pressures, hopes and dreams than ever before.

It's allowed me to be more of a coach and a mentor to my employees. Some conversations are wide-ranging - I can see I need to help someone understand the bigger picture and what we're trying to achieve. Sometimes it's focused: drilling down into a thorny problem that will unlock productivity.

Having Appraisd open on the screen next to our faces makes a significant but subtle difference: we know we're looking at the same thing and not distracted by other browser tabs. We know which parts of the form to focus on and which to skip over.

I can tell you that we've had more frequent check-ins and more usage of Appraisd internally than ever before which has really helped to keep everyone motivated and engaged.

I would like to see people managers and HR embrace this. Some people I've spoken to are horrified by the suggestion that a check-in might actually be better delivered over a video call. But those people are the ones who find it easy to lower their guard, feel comfortable opening up to their boss in a small confined corporate space - and not everyone is.

So - give it a try, you might just want to stick with it.

As part of our response to the coronavirus pandemic, Appraisd is offering free video-calls integrated into the Appraisd system. It's easy: you and your manager just load up Appraisd and click Start call.