Checking in regularly with your staff is an essential part of ongoing performance management. But your check-in is only as good as the questions you ask. So, here are ten employee check-in questions you should be asking.

The questions you ask during an employee check-in matter

For better or worse, the questions you ask have weight. They can either help you gain honest insight, or they can alienate employees. The questions you ask should be informative and relevant. And you need to ask them in a way that helps you build rapport with your staff.

Poorly chosen or phrased questions can bog things down. For example, leading questions can bias people towards certain kinds of responses. So, if you’re trying to understand employee sentiment, biased questions are basically useless.

But that’s assuming they choose to respond at all. Many employee surveys have poor response rates. And that’s just one way classic surveys don’t stack up to check-ins.

The reason for these poor response rates is that employees have often been alienated by bad experiences. Enough bad surveys, and staff inevitably write them off as not worth doing. On average, employee surveys only get a 30-40% response rate according to Forbes.

So, now you know the consequences of poor questioning, let’s look at some of weekly employee check-in questions that can get results.

10 employee check-in questions you could ask

There are all kinds of questions you could ask during an employee check-in. Which ones are the most important vary by individual. But here are some weekly check-in questions we’d say you can’t go wrong with.

Check-in questions that encourage employees to reflect on their progress

1. What successes have you had this week?

Managers not recognising employee accomplishments is a really common employee complaint. A study from Reward Gateway found that 52% of employees believe their boss could be doing more to recognise their accomplishments.

So, start by going straight to the source. There’s no specific order to these weekly check-in questions, but this makes a good first one. You can break the ice by letting your employee highlight the things they’re most proud of.

2. What challenges have you faced this week?

Phrasing is important when it comes to weekly check-in questions. But this one, especially so. Asking employees, for example, how they’ve failed this week is going to put people on the defensive. Even if they’re not dishonest, they’ll probably make excuses.

Framing it as a challenge to be overcome is much more effective. Rather than framing it as your employee’s shortcoming, it’s a chance for them to explain how they dealt with it.

3. What support do you need from me?

People’s roles often change in small ways, but especially in recent years. You need to support your people wherever you can if you want them to be your top performers.

Supporting staff might mean investing in new tech for them to work with. The right tech can streamline time-consuming tasks and let people focus on the key aspects of their role. Just be sure to coordinate your efforts with IT so you can choose the most effective tech. And ask your staff what they need, don’t assume you know best. Use flexible employee check-in questions to get to the heart of their requirements.

But workplace support isn’t all shiny new software. You can support employees by enabling flexibility options like remote work. Or, maybe you have lots of staff who identify as introverted or neurodivergent. If so, then investing in a quiet workspace can be a huge help.

But the kinds of support you should offer depends on whatever the needs of your staff happen to be. That’s what makes this such an important line of questioning.

4. Is there anyone you’d like to shout out for their great work and effort?

Recognition from a manager is good. But recognition from a colleague is better. We all know managers are supposed to praise hard work. So, it comes across as more genuine when it’s coming from a peer.

Getting your team members to acknowledge each other’s hard work is essential. It builds strong bonds like nothing else. And when your people get along, they work together that much more effectively.

5. Is there anything else you’d like to tell me?

This question is a chance for your employee to bring up anything you might have overlooked. But even more importantly, it’s a non-interrogative way of addressing private issues. This makes it vital for supporting employee wellbeing.

An employee may have health problems, for example. You can’t help if you don’t know anything. But it’s also illegal for you to interrogate employees about their personal lives. This kind of question encourages them to talk to you on their own accord.

Check-in questions that get employees thinking more strategically

6. What’s been your biggest challenge this quarter?

Most weekly check-in questions will deal with things that occurred that week. It’s right there in the name, after all. But don’t forget, these check-ins work as documentation for your full-on performance reviews. So, it’s important to reflect every now and then. This question provides valuable insight about your employee’s mindset at different points in the year. It shouldn’t feature every week. But include this question at periodic intervals. It’s a good way of encouraging self-reflection in your team.

7. Do you have everything you need to do a great job?

Use a simple rating scale to understand if your people have all the resources they need to succeed. It’s your job as their manager to remove blockers that get in the way. It could be that they need training, a decision making, or more flexible working patterns. Either way, if you don’t ask, you don’t know. Track this over time to see if their rating improves, stays consistent or declines. And provide the tools they need to succeed.

8. Do you feel that you’re on track?

As a manager, you might feel that your employee is doing a great job. But do they know that? Gauge their level of confidence in their own ability to deliver to unearth potential imposter syndrome.

Happiness and confidence aren’t the same as engagement. But they are important for workplace wellbeing, which is itself important for engagement. Unhappiness or lack of confidence can be the proverbial smoke that comes with the fire. If you can’t address these issues, they’re sure to result in turnover. This can be an essential question for safeguarding workplace mental health. Many (including Gallup) believe mental health will be the next great arena of employee wellbeing.

9. What do you want to have achieved before our next 1:1?

Aside from keeping you in the know, the main goal of a weekly check-in is to get your staff to self-reflect. SMART Goals and OKRs are good progress trackers. But they’re mainly useful for dealing with the present.

An employee’s answer may well be to have gotten on top of their immediate work goals. Or they might have targets related to their ambitions. You might find they’re planning to have learned a new skill, for example.

This is one of those weekly check-in questions that pays dividends over time by encouraging self-motivation. It might not motivate your employee right away. But seeing it there each week is bound to get them thinking about the next one.

10. What can I help you with between now and the next time we catch up?

We’ve broached the idea of support, but only in general terms. As a manager, there are ways you can support your employees that nobody else can.

You can advocate for them when they’re trying to get promoted. If their job involves doing things like writing content, you can sub-edit their work. Sometimes, it might just be that you can be a good listener for them to vent to.

It’s this ability to go the extra mile for your team that separates great managers from those that are merely good. That’s why this question is so important.

A bonus employee check-in question

11. Goal updates

Seeing the goals that you’re working towards as part of an employee check-in keeps them top of mind each week. They don’t have to be updated every week. But, if they’re not being progressed, that raises questions. Are they the right goals or has strategy shifted? Does your employee need to re-focus? Or is there something bigger at play here?