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5 Coaching Conversations (Part 3): The Check-In

5 Coaching Conversations (Part 3): The Check-In

Webcast Details

  • Gallup Called to Coach Webcast Series
  • Season 8, Episode 15
  • Discover Gallup's approach to performance management and the third of 5 Coaching Conversations between managers and employees that can build trust and foster engagement.
  • Interested in learning more on this topic? Read more about how to improve teamwork in the workplace.

Paul Walters, Workplace Consultant at Gallup, was our guest on a recent Called to Coach. Paul shared Gallup's approach to performance management, and how managers can be intentional about developing their people every single day and giving them opportunities to learn and grow. In Part 3 of this 5-part series, Paul discussed the third of 5 Coaching Conversations managers should have with their employees -- the Check-In -- and how managers can use it to foster employee engagement.

Access Part 1 of 5 Coaching Conversations, and Part 2, Part 4 and Part 5 of this 5-part series.

Below is a full transcript of the conversation, including time stamps. Full audio and video are posted above.

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Jim Collison 0:00

I am Jim Collison, and live from the Gallup Studios here in Omaha, Nebraska, this is Gallup's Called to Coach, recorded on March 13, 2020.

Jim Collison 0:18

Called to Coach is a resource for those who want to help others discover and use their strengths. We have Gallup experts and independent strengths coaches share tactics, insights and strategies to help coaches maximize the talent of individuals, teams and organizations around the world. If you have any questions during this live webcast, we do have a chat room. There's a link available there that'll take you to a page that's got the chat room in it; love to have you in it. If you have questions after the fact, send us an email: If you're on YouTube right now, don't hit -- don't forget to hit the Subscribe button. That way you get notified whenever we publish anything new. And if you want to listen to this as a podcast on any podcast player, just search "Gallup Webcasts" and you will find Called to Coach. Paul Walters is our host today. Paul's a Workplace Consultant here at Gallup. And Paul, great to have you back for Part 3 in the series.

Paul Walters 0:59

Happy to be here. Thanks for having me, Jim.

Jim Collison 1:01

What are we going to talk about today? Obviously, the third conversation, but give us some background on what we've covered so far.

Paul Walters 1:07

Yeah, so let me -- I'll do a quick 2-minute overview of what we've covered so far. So in Part 1, we talked about the history of performance management systems, where they came from. Then we talked about why they were ineffective and not working, and why a lot of companies are moving away from them. And then we talked about the shift from -- so Gallup's approach to this and our recommendations, which is shifting from what we call the performance management realm to performance development, which is being intentional around developing your people every single day and giving them opportunities to learn and grow.

Paul Walters 1:37

And then with that performance development, there's, if you listen to the first part, we talked about the the 3 frameworks or the 3 components of the framework around this, which is to Establish Expectations, Continually Coach, and then Create Accountability. And within that framework are 5 Conversations. So in Part 1, we talked about the Role and Relationship Orientation, which falls under the -- under that Establish Expectations bucket. In Part 2, we talked about the Quick Connect, which falls into the Continually Coach part of the framework. And then today, for Part 3, we're going to talk about the third conversation, which is the Check-In Conversation, which also falls into that Continually Coach framework -- part of the framework. Part 4 will be the fifth -- fourth conversation, which is the Developmental Coaching, which also falls into Continually Coach conversation. Then Part 5 in the future will be the Progress Review conversation, which is the fifth one that falls into the Create Accountability component of that framework. So again, we've covered Role and Relationship Orientation; Quick Connect, in Part 2. Now, Part 3, we are going to dive into the Check-In. Would you like me to just launch in, Jim?

Jim Collison 2:48

Yeah, and let me just say for folks who might be reeling, like, all of a sudden, they're like, "Oh, that's so much information!" Available in our book It's the Manager. So if you want to go back, a lot of the information we're pulling is from our book It's the Manager. So if you want to go in there, available, just check -- look for the 5 Coaching Conversations that is there. Dive -- yeah, dive in.

Paul Walters 3:05

Yeah, and let me, let me also give a shout-out again to that Re-Engineering Performance Management white paper we have out there. It's online, it's free, done by -- really well done by Ben Wigert and Jim Harter. So that's out there and available to you and would recommend you read that document. There's a lot of really good information in there that outlines everything that we're saying here but takes it to a little bit deeper level.

Jim Collison 3:27

We did -- if you want the short version of that -- we did a webcast with Ben if you like listening to it. We did a webcast late last year with the same, by the same title, and so you can find that as well on our, our Called to Coach channel. As we get started, I want to ask you the difference -- I think it's the, the Check-In and the Quick Connect get confused a little bit. So as you explain it, talk about maybe how they're a little bit different.

Paul Walters 3:48

Yeah. So again, a reminder that the Quick Connect is really a quick hit with your employees. "What are you working on; how you doing? How can I support you?" That's, that's the purpose of it. The, the Check-In is a little bit more detailed. So I think of the Quick Connect, you do at minimum once a week -- maybe every day if you're able to do it; if that's what your people want. The Check-In is a little bit more formal. I think of this as your one-on-one, sit-down meeting with your employees. Now, whether you're -- if your employees are remote, that's obviously over video chat or something like that, or over the phone. But if you could do it in person, that's, that's great, do that. But it's sitting down with your people for maybe an hour or so. And it's different in that you are going to a depth that you don't go in with the Quick Connect.

Paul Walters 4:33

The Check-In is we're actually going to check in to see where we're at with our goals. Are we making progress on what we need to accomplish this year or this month? It's possibly realigning our priorities. Like, "Jim, I know we've been having you -- you've been working on this. I just got some, some note from leadership that they're elevating this project. So are you able to pivot and sort of put your other project on hold and prioritize this one for the next couple weeks?" So it's talking about that; helping them realign what those priorities might look like. And maybe they're, they're a little bit confused about priorities. So this is your chance as a manager to help them understand what the priorities are. Because oftentimes, I think managers in their head are very clear about what someone's priorities are. But we're not always good at articulating it in a way that someone fully understands what the priority should be.

Paul Walters 5:23

It also is addressing barriers to performance. So "If, Jim, there's something getting in the way of your success, what can I do to help you? I want to be here as a resource for you. OK, now that I know this is a barrier, let me see what I can do on my end to remove those barriers from you, to help you, set you up for success." I also think it's celebrating successes. And that's, and that's critical. So it's spending time actually saying "You were a rock star here! Really great work. Nice job! I appreciate what you did." Now oftentimes, managers feel the need to couple a success with what someone can be doing better. Now I'm -- I think we're all, it makes sense and it's OK if you're going to have a conversation of how -- and you would do it during these Check-In conversations -- where someone can improve on something.

Paul Walters 6:10

So if you have that conversation, it's OK to tag in there a, "Hey, you're really great at here; you're rocking it here. Hey, I would tweak this a little bit; here's where you can make it better." Right? It's OK to do that conversation. But you also need to have those Check-In conversations that celebrate successes only. Because what tends to happen is you tell me these good things, and then you follow up with a bad thing, or something I need to work on. Suddenly those good things are gone. And I'm just focused on the negative thing. So I'm not saying you don't do that. I'm saying make time where the conversation can just include successes and doesn't have anything to do with what they might need to work on or or where they're failing in their performance.

Jim Collison 6:46

Sometimes that's perceived too as, you're just sugarcoating. You got something hard to say, and now you're sugarcoating it, right? And sometimes, I think, sometimes good to separate those out and there's learning opportunities and then there's celebrating success, right?

Paul Walters 7:00

Yeah, and I think you, you, you start to anticipate it. "Oh, great, Jim's saying something nice to me; something's on his mind that he's gonna ping me with." Yeah. Also, so in addition to celebrating successes, I think it's also about building a stronger partnership with that person. So build fostering that relationship with that person during that, that Check-In conversation. So that's a big thing that we know that the best managers have really good relationships with their people. It's also about providing timely feedback and coaching. Oftentimes, we don't provide feedback in the moment on someone's performance. And when we wait to provide that feedback, it feels more punitive. But if you're doing it more in the moment, or more frequent, it feels like it's developmental versus being punitive.

Paul Walters 7:16

So again, that's really the whole point of what the Check-In should be, should should be about. 30 minutes to an hour. Sometimes people want it once a week. I would recommend at least once a month, probably two times a month. And again, it's to discuss successes, realign and prioritize expectations, and provide that timely feedback along with, you know, removing some of those barriers to success. So really in a nutshell, that's what a Check-In is.

Paul Walters 8:17

And I will say one more thing about it. I remember before I joined Gallup, watching a video of Benjamin, who was going to be my Go To at the time. And he said, specifically, there's a difference between checking in with someone and checking up with someone -- checking up on someone. And I've never forgotten that, right? A Check-In is a positive experience; checking up is, "I don't trust you to do your work. So I'm here to check up on you."

Jim Collison 8:45

Yeah, yeah, no, that's a good -- that's a good good way to separate that. And I think oftentimes, you know, this is where in the Check-Iin level, I think this is where managers have to be the most intentional about making these happen because they're, you know, the performance, the performance pieces, the pay pieces, those are going to come. Like they're going to get mandated; they're going to be dictated in some cases; some organizations are going to plan those out.

Jim Collison 9:12

The Quick Connect is easy because that's, that's happening as part of kind of a daily or a weekly routine of sort, you're building those things in. These Check-Ins can get really lost in the wash. And, and I think managers need to be the most intentional. Coaches, you have an opportunity -- this is where, if your, your managers are struggling in their management, this Check-In is probably where you start. Like ask them, Hey, how purposeful are you being about these Check-In conversations? Because they are performance related. Right? If they don't, if you're, if you're saving all your performance for the performance -- the annual performance review, like, to your point, we talked about this in Part 1, you can't -- that you're surprising them or you're biased. You're basing it on the last month, as opposed to this being a continual quality conversation right?

Paul Walters 9:59

That's spot on. And I love how you said, "These can be sort of pushed to the side," right? We're busy, I have my own things to execute on. You send a very real intangible message to your people when you postpone their one-on-one with them, right? You cancel it, you postpone because you're too busy. It's saying, "I'm not a priority to you." Right? So it's really key that you, you schedule those meetings, and you fight tooth and nail to save that -- reserve that time for that person so that they get the right messaging that "You are my priority; everything else is secondary."

Jim Collison 10:37

Paul, we have 4 and 5 still coming up; excited about those. If you're listening to this as a podcast, they're probably already there for you. So just keep listening. And if not, we'll be back -- if you're listening live, we'll be back next week. Make sure you get signed up for those as well. Any other final thoughts, Paul?

Paul Walters 10:52

No, I'm good. Just talk to your people and get, get excited for Part 4 and 5 coming up. Thank you.

Jim Collison 10:57

Coaches, get your managers excited about the Check-In. Like this is, this is the hardest part, I think, the hardest part about managing. And most managers avoid it. And so you've got to get them doing this.

Jim Collison 11:08

Want to remind everyone to take full advantages of all the resources we have available, now on, we've got a bunch of articles out there. But if you want to go right to the strengths materials: And we have tons of material out there available for you on this. If you want to, we did full transcriptions, or we will be doing in the future full transcriptions for this webcast. And the links to the Re-Performing, or the Re-Engineering Performance Management -- if I could say it; it's hard to say. The link to the YouTube video with, with Ben Wigert -- those will all be in the transcripts and available for you. So if you, if you're wondering what this is, head out, grab the transcript, and those links will be available for you as well. If you have any questions send us an email: If you want to see future events that are coming up, I mentioned, you know, we record these live and if you'd like to be at the live recording sessions, it's more fun that way, go to Join us on our Facebook group: And if you want to join us on LinkedIn -- again, these links will all be in the show notes -- head out to CliftonStrengths Trained Coaches. You don't have to be necessarily trained to do that. But we'll let you in. I want to thank you for joining us today. Paul, have a great -- have a great rest of your day. With that, we'll say, Thanks, everybody.

Paul Walters' Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Strategic, Communication, Arranger, Competition and Woo.

Learn more about using CliftonStrengths to help yourself and others succeed:

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