The Ten Minute Check In

It took a few years as a manager and leader of a dispensary team to understand the importance of checking in with my staff.  Unfortunately, when I went to pharmacy school, leadership training was not included, so over the years I’ve just had to “figure stuff out” and learn as I go.  My goal has always been to lead a high performance team, producing work that each team member can be proud of and generally have everyone, including myself, enjoy coming into work every day. 

I am asked quite often how I created and maintain the team that I have.  To be honest, it isn’t easy.  It takes a lot more hard work and continual skill development on my part than I ever realized.   There are many pieces that have contributed to this building and maintaining, but one of the key ones has been the “ten minute check-in”. 

The ten minute check in is a completely separate entity from a performance review or goal setting.   It took quite a few years for me to understand how something so simple was so critical to the functioning of the team.   

Here are a few things I’ve learned about this valuable tool which I encourage team leaders to implement for the health and growth of their team.

  1. The ten minute check-in has to be scheduled.  If I merely have the intention to do it, but do not deliberately schedule time for it, the check-ins never happen.  Staff need to know that they have a time and space with me and that this will come around on a regular basis
  2. This time is about them.  This check-in time is not the forum for me to bring up problems or things to work on, it is time given solely to the team member in front of me.  My job is to listen.
  3.  It’s not always about the job.  Sometimes a team member is having difficulty or struggling in areas outside of work.  It is important to keep an open mind and hear what is shared as all aspects of a person’s life affects their ability to be a healthy contributing member of the team

When check-ins become the norm, team members become more and more comfortable coming to you with issues and concerns.  This often means that they will also ask for a check in when they need it, which can be critical in addressing issues that are time sensitive. 

Regular one -on- ones are preventative medicine for our teams.  This dedicated time can not only solve problems but prevent issues from creeping into the team, which could cause negativity, hard feelings or discontent.  Growth and development of each member also occurs as they feel they have a safe space to bring up concerns or struggles they may be having.   As leader of a group of dedicated and hardworking staff, I owe it to them to be deliberate and consistent with the time I give to them.  It’s an investment of time that continues to pay off for the entire team.