Last week in a client session, two team members rushed in frantically just as we were about to start the meeting. They dropped into their seats with disheveled hair and scowls on their faces. One of them said they didn’t get any sleep the night before because they were up all night with a sick child.
I took a deep breath and thought to myself, “Oh boy, this is going to be a tough day.”
We kicked off the meeting with a check-in, as usual. As everyone reported personal and professional good news, the body language in the room changed entirely. It was like flipping a light switch, and it was amazing to witness. The scowls went away, and everyone was ready to dig in. In the end it turned out to be a very productive meeting.
What’s a Meeting Check-In?
The beginning of every leadership team meeting should start with a check-in. In a check-in, everyone in the room shares some good news—one personal item, and one professional item. For a leadership team of seven people, the check-in should take no more than five minutes total. Don’t fall into the trap of accidentally getting sidetracked in a 20-minute conversation!
The check-in is one of the most powerful elements of a meeting. Don’t ever start a meeting without one! Here’s why.
3 Reasons to Make Meeting Check-Ins a Priority
1) They help you stop working “in” your business and start working “on” it
Business leaders are normally so buried IN the day-to-day demands of putting out fires, they don’t take the time to work ON the business to figure out why the fires began in the first place. When you’re in the middle of fighting a fire, you’re in a completely different frame of mind than when you’re investigating what caused the fire. The check-in is a segue that helps you to make the mental transition from reactive firefighting to proactive problem-solving.
2) Check-ins create a positive frame of mind
Everyone comes into the meeting on a different page. Some are in a good mood, others are in a bad mood. Some are frustrated and others are excited. The check-in gets everyone into a positive frame of mind by focusing your attention on things worth celebrating. Having a positive frame of mind in turn helps your team to solve more issues faster during the meeting.
3) They increase team health
Check-ins get everyone on the same page to see the great things that are happening in each other’s lives. This brings a human element into the meetings—after all we’re not working with robots!
This post originally appeared on the GPS for Small Business Blog on September 17, 2015.