Managing Through Uncertainty: Check-ins Add-on

Last updated: November 14, 2021
Estimated reading time: 2 min


During moments of uncertainty, check-ins are an opportunity to meet your staff where they’re at so that they can feel seen and supported. Everyone copes with challenging, chaotic, or downright traumatic events differently. Coping mechanisms run the gamut from hyper-productivity to completely checking out.

Whatever the case may be for your staff, acknowledge what’s happening, hear how your people are doing, and inject purpose and agency by using this add-on in your next check-in agenda:

Component Sentence Starters & Sample Questions
(Re)state the big picture purpose and their contributions to it
  • Over the next few weeks/months, our job as a team/organization is to make sure that…
  • We wouldn’t be able to do this if it weren’t for the work you’re doing with X.
  • We are uniquely positioned to make a difference on X. because of your [talent / relationships / groundwork]
Align on their priorities
  • I want to talk about sustainable ways to approach the work given XYZ…
  • Let’s get aligned on your priorities between now and X. If it were up to you, what would you prioritize or backburner? Here’s what I think…
  • What can we take off your plate or put on the backburner to make room for your most critical work?
Seek perspective
  • Is there anything we might be missing?
  • Do you have any concerns about what we’re letting go of?
  • What are the equity implications we need to watch out for?
Offer support*
  • Let’s look at your calendar. What time off can you schedule between now and X?
  • What do you need to take care of yourself? How can I support you?
  • What is something that would make you feel more supported, seen, and/or cared for by your teammates?
[For managing managers]
Make a plan for supporting staff
  • I’d like to make sure you are able to support your direct reports. Let’s talk about how you’ll do that…

*As you’re having these conversations, keep track of who is requesting or accepting offers of support and make sure there aren’t discrepancies that may result in inequities, particularly across racial and gender lines. It’s your job as the manager to consider the disparate impact that your most marginalized staff might be experiencing (and continue to experience) and make sure that support is accessed equitably.


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