While working remotely, do this one thing with your team — every week.

The 6-Week Cycles book is a guide that helps teams work for 6-weeks, then take off for 2. BUT! It’s not as simple as just marking 2 weeks off in your calendar. Working this way requires that your team learns to excel in communication. One of the cornerstone communication methods is the weekly check out meeting.

I have my friend Angela Vitzthum to thank for telling me about this idea. Over four years ago, I implemented these weekly check out meetings for my team.

With them, we saw incredible growth in interpersonal communication, empathy, and an improvement to our overall culture. It became our favorite meeting — which, we didn’t even know we could have “favorite meetings.”

A team member we had never met in person, who worked in South Africa said, “I look forward to these meetings, which isn’t something people normally say.”

Every Friday afternoon hold a check out meeting

No one needs to prepare anything for this meeting; they just need to show up and talk about what went well vs. what didn’t go well. That’s …that’s it. JUST do this one thing, and I guarantee you’ll see absolutely incredible results amongst your team.

How to run a check out meeting

The group leader sets a timer on their phone for 2 minutes. During that time, each person writes down things that went well that week. These don’t all have to be monumental accomplishments, just…what are those small wins you’re taking away from the week. After they’ve written them down, each person goes through one at a time and reads their list to the group.

Try to limit your group to no more than five people. For us, a 5-person check out meeting would take approximately 90 minutes as we all grew more comfortable with each other.

Once that is complete, the group leader sets another timer for 2 minutes. This time, everybody writes down what didn’t go well that week. Then again, go one person at a time and share that with everybody.

These are low-stress, culture building meetings. They’re relaxed, there isn’t any pressure, and there is nothing to prepare. It’s also very personal.

The three biggest benefits

First, as the leader, you get the opportunity to hear the most important things happening to your team every week. I don’t always need project updates; sometimes, I just need to know how my fellow humans are doing in life.

Second, it gives your team the chance to celebrate their wins. Recognition can go so. incredibly. far. in motivating an individual. Check out meetings now allow your team members to receive praise for the hard work they’ve done.

Third, I don’t know if you knew this, but sometimes…people just want to bitch. They want to get it all out there, vent, and then they feel better. They can move on, take the weekend to calm down, and come back on Monday morning ready-to-go.

By holding this weekly check out meeting, you give people a time and place to be heard.

Photo by Oleg Ivanoff

For leaders

As the boss or manager, I believe in leading by example. If you care about your team, you need to take a proactive approach to understand what’s happening in their lives. It would help if you listened, understand who they are, and know more about what may be affecting their ability to get things done. Sharing personal stories and failures of your own will encourage your team to share theirs.

TL;DR

  • 2 mins in silence writing down what went well that week
  • Each person shares what went well
  • 2 mins in silence writing down what did not go well that week
  • Each person shares what didn’t go well
  • As a group discuss how to improve things for the next week

Joe Martin is a Chicago entrepreneur. His book, 6-Week Cycles, teaches people how to work for 6 weeks, then take off for 2. With appearances on TV, radio, podcasts, and a 2019 TEDx Talk, he promotes new ways to communicate and build corporate culture among remote teams. Email me@hijoemartin.com and let’s talk about how we can change the world together.

Entrepreneur, author, and TEDx Speaker who believes real world interactions are more valuable than digital ones.

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