A weekly check-in is a quick but structured way to give your manager a snapshot of how your week has gone. It focuses on your day-to-day experiences and progress, but doesn’t replace face-to-face discussion. Instead, it makes your formal 1:1 meetings more effective because they’re not bogged down in the daily details.

As well as that, it’s about you taking time to reflect and record items for your own personal development. It’s an opportunity to build your show-reel of achievements, rather than a list of everything you’ve ever done. It’s the critical foundation of every performance conversation you’ll have with your manager.

What a weekly check-in is not

Let’s clear up a few things first.

A weekly check-in is not a one-on-one meeting with your manager or employee. These have a different purpose and work better on a monthly cadence. It’s not practical to meet every week with your manager or employees: holidays and workload gets in the way. They very quickly become tick-box time wasters.

A weekly check-in’s like bowling with the bumpers up

So, what is a weekly check-in all about?

At its core, a check-in is about two-way feedback. And feedback is the foundation of personal development, engagement, and great performance.

How often have you thought through gritted teeth, ‘my manager has no idea what I do?’. Or delivered an epic piece of work that’s gone completely unnoticed? Or wanted to raise a concern but didn’t because there was never a right time. Last year, a survey from The Workforce Institute found that one in three people would rather quit their job than raise concerns. 83% feel that people aren’t heard equally, and almost half stated that underrepresented voices aren’t valued by their employer.

A weekly check-in encourages people to open up by giving you and your manager a feedback framework. Think of it like bowling with the bumpers up. Whether you’ve got a stellar boss or a useless lump, when they use Zensai, they’ll have the right process to follow to give you feedback that’s actually useful.

Each week you send feedback upwards; your manager then responds with feedback that’s specific to that update. That can be a simple like, a comment, or a question to dig deeper. You can then implement that feedback immediately – not 6 months after the fact. It’s also private between you and your manager so it won’t get accidentally forwarded in an email trail.

But we do face-to-face staff check-ins

Brilliant, you’re already doing check-ins! But what happens if your manager’s on holiday? How much time does it take out of each of your diaries? Does that check-in really happen every week? And what if your manager has 8 other direct reports? And… you get the picture.

That’s the benefit of a digital employee check-in. You can check-in whether your manager is free or not. You’re also in control of the conversation. We’re more coherent when we have time to compose a message and can be more honest and detailed compared to real-time meetings. Your manager has time to digest your update and can give you feedback that’s useful rather than off-the-cuff.

Staff check-ins encourage small but significant change 

Pareto, a keen gardener, noticed that a tiny number of pea pods in his garden produced most of the peas. Fast-forward to The 1 Percent Rule. The idea says you don’t need to be twice as good to get twice the results, you just need to be slightly better. And what is a weekly check-in if not a way of encouraging incremental improvement?

You do your weekly check-in on the same day each week. Think of it like muscle memory. That’s because the more you do something, the more habitual it becomes. Your employee check-in stops being a task to tick off your to do list and becomes an opportunity to learn from the feedback your manager gives.

You make small tweaks regularly rather than monumental shifts once a quarter. Those small changes make you better at your job, help you work smarter, and ultimately, make you more productive. Be more pea.

What to cover in a weekly check-in

Your employee check-in should take no more than 10 minutes and focus on 3 key areas: personal reflection through relevant questions, looking outside yourself with peer recognition, and goal updates.

Your employee check-in must be fit for purpose, adding value to your employee and manager’s working life. Check-ins need to have a positive impact, not feel like a time-sucking tick-box exercise. Employees need to feel that they’re being championed. And that their concerns are taken seriously.

Your manager needs to be able to act on what you’re telling them. That’s why transparency between you and your manager is super important. The benefit of a weekly check-in also means your manager can easily differentiate between a one-off bad week and a more serious downward trend. They also help managers to see what matters to an employee by the context of their update.

Personal reflection questions to ask in an employee check-in

We have an extensive question library developed by our in-house people science team with hundreds of efficacy-tested questions to choose from. Or, you can create your own. We’ve written a blog with the top 10 weekly check-in questions most people ask. But the three key questions to always ask are:

Successes: Things that have gone well or you’re proud of

Focusing on your weekly wins feels good. Having that bucket list of successes to quickly reference during performance conversations is also super handy. Our managers are busy. They might have missed a great piece of work that you’ve delivered or not realized that you contributed to a group project. Bashful can bog off! Tell your manager about your achievements during your weekly check-in so they know that you rock. This also tells managers what an employee’s prioritized are, by the things they talk about.

A good question to ask would be: What have you achieved this week?

Challenges: Stuff that’s making your job harder than it should be

We tend to focus on things that have gone wrong, or the things that we haven’t achieved. When we write them down, they’re often not as bad as we think. Your manager’s feedback is valuable for you to learn from your mistakes or look at things from a different perspective. Incremental improvements are easier than step-change transformation.

Try asking: What’s challenged you this week?

Support: Things you need to do your job better

It’s hard to find time in your manager’s diary to ask for support. Your check-in opens the door to start the conversation, so use it to clearly outline your request. It could be a training course you’ve seen, a replacement piece of tech, or advice on how to handle a difficult conversation. Others might be facing the same blockers as you which can prompt your manager to do something about them.

Ask a support question with a wide scope for the best feedback: What support do you need?

Look outside of yourself with recognition

Would you work harder if your efforts were seen by more people? You’re not alone: 69% of us said we would. Be the change. Publicly call out colleagues or project peers that have delivered exceptional work or gone over and above. They’ll feel great. You’ll get a fuzzy feeling too. They’re likely to reciprocate so kudos snowballs to become the norm.

Focus on comradery with a kudos question: Who deserves a shout-out this week and why?

Goal updates in a workplace check-in

Include SMART Goals or OKRs at the end of the weekly check-in to encourage staff to focus on what matters to their role, team and the wider business. If there’s no progress on their goals, then they know to re-focus their efforts next week. Or reach out to their manager for support to achieve them.

Even when people have goals set, they don’t review them regularly. And this is especially true if the organisation has traditional performance reviews. But working to more modern performance management cycles makes a big difference.