Weekly Check In: Tips For Framing An Effective Questionnaire

by Srikant Chellappa Oct 17,2018

The People Strategy Leaders Podcast

with Srikant Chellappa, CEO

Weekly check-ins are a great way to touch base with your team. They give managers and employees a chance to get on the same page without the stress of the check-in being treated like an actual meeting. Moreover, effective managers will use weekly check-ins to gain insight into how the employee works, what does not work, and what needs to change.

In order to be effective, weekly check-ins demand immediate action and acknowledgment. Rather than the employee or manager waiting for the right time to share something, be it an opinion or a grievance, weekly check-ins force everyone to take stock of everything around them.

How does a weekly check in work?

The structure of a weekly check-in works a little something like this. Managers and employees typically meet for 10 minutes and have a quick chat over the work that has been done over the week. Alternatively, a weekly check-in can also be carried out in the form of a structured questionnaire which can then be followed up by a face-to-face meeting. The cadence of a weekly check-in can be based on what the organization is comfortable doing.

Weekly check-ins work better when they adhere to a basic structure that involves a set of questions. These sets of questions can be used as a framework to guide the check-in. This absolves the manager of having to stress about what they should ask, and it makes the employee feel more at ease when they know what to expect.

Here are a few tips that can help you frame a weekly check-in questionnaire along with guidelines as to how to phrase them.

Also Read: 5 Offbeat Leadership Qualities Leaders Should Possess

For relevant answers, ask specific questions

If you want concise answers, your best bet is asking specific and pointed questions. For instance, you want to know how much time your employee spends on certain projects. The way you phrase the question will get you answers that wildly vary in terms of how relevant they are.

Example: How much time did you spend working on all your projects this week?

This question seems fine, but it is not going to get you the answers you want. Because the employee is going to think to you want a detailed breakdown of how they spent their time.  That’s time-consuming and off-putting for them and as for the manager, it’s going to look like an unnecessarily detailed answer.

Rephrased Example: To which project did you devote the most amount of time during this week? 

This question works better because it gives the employees to answer concisely and it also gives the manager the exact answer they were looking for.

Act as a guide

The whole point of a weekly check-in is for the employee to share any concerns they have and for the manager to offer them directional guidance. It’s not supposed to be a one-way street where the manager communicates down to the employee. It is important for questions to reflect this aspect of weekly check-ins.

Example: In what areas do you need to improve?

Rephrased example: In what way can I help you improve? Are there any certain areas you would like to focus on?

In the rephrased questions, you can see that the ball is in the employee’s court. It does not feel like they are being forced into something. Rather, it gives them an opportunity to decide if they want to ask for help or not. It also allows them to objectively decide where they need to improve, rather than being told by someone that they need to improve in a certain area.

Emotions are valid

And they should play a big role in your weekly check-in questionnaire. Emotions affect the way we work, much like they affect other aspects of a person’s life. When employees are happy or content, they are more likely to be involved in their work. When employees are dealing with difficult times, they are distracted or more stressed than usual.

Is it really important to know how an employee is feeling? The answer is yes; it is absolutely important. Questions about morale help managers gauge how an employee is feeling without making it feel like they are probing. This also brings to their attention any issues that might have escaped notice. But as with all things linked to emotion, how you choose to phrase the question also plays a big role.

Example: How are you feeling this week?

While this seems like an innocuous question (and it is one in most casual conversations), it becomes a loaded question in a weekly check-in questionnaire, depending on how the employee is feeling. You also have to consider the fact that not everyone is comfortable answering a question like this.

Rephrased Example: Did you experience any events that made you feel either high or low this week? And how did they affect your work?

This question works because it directs the question back to work and frames it within the context of what an employee feels comfortable answering. Besides, this rephrased question also ties into the first tip: ask specific questions and you will get specific answers.

Weekly check-ins are not employee surveys

The urge to send out a long and detailed questionnaire might be very strong, but it is important to temper that urge. Weekly check-ins should be short and sweet. They shouldn’t take employees long to fill out. Don’t treat them like employee surveys. Those are a whole different ball game.

If employees are spending more than 30 minutes filling out a weekly check-in questionnaire then the point of the weekly check-in has already been lost. Aim for 8 questions or less, questions that can be answered in 2 to 3 lines or even questions that can be answered through multiple choice options, one word, yes/no etc.

Also read: 8 Steps To Effective Employee Surveys

Follow up

Any continuous feedback session is incomplete without a follow-up. The same goes for weekly check-ins as well. Based on the way employees answer the weekly check-in questionnaire, managers might want to schedule follow-up chats, meetings etc based on the nature of the answer. The point of a weekly check-in isn’t to only conduct a cursory survey of sorts for employees. It is an opportunity to create a conversation and open a channel of communication. By not following up on weekly check-ins, you risk breaking a connection that is just beginning to form.

Also read: Continuous Feedback: When Too Much of A Good Thing Can Be Bad

We hope these tips help you create an actionable weekly check in the template! And what other tips would you recommend when creating a weekly check-in a questionnaire? Share them with us!

Want to know how Engagedly can help you with effective weekly check-in? Request for a live demo!

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Srikant Chellappa
CEO & Co-Founder of Engagedly

Srikant Chellappa is the Co-Founder and CEO at Engagedly and is a passionate entrepreneur and people leader. He is an author, producer/director of 6 feature films, a music album with his band Manchester Underground, and is the host of The People Strategy Leaders Podcast. He is currently working on his next book, Ikigai at the Workplace, which is slated for release in the fall of 2024.

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