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Checking in not checking up on others

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in Leaders & Managers,Workplace Communication

Jordan is a high-achieving employee, yet his boss is a micromanager who drops by his cubicle and e-mails dozens of times a day to ask, “Did you do ‘xyz’ yet?” “Did you wrap up today’s report yet?” “Did you make that call I asked you to make?”

Did you, did you, did you?

There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re being constantly monitored, says Jack Mitchell, author of Hug Your People. Better than checking up on people is checking in.

“Checking in,” Mitchell says, “is absolutely necessary. Remember, delegation is not abdication. If you don’t check in with people, you might as well check out.”

The difference is checking in involves a positive attitude. If you’re coaching, assisting or suggesting, rather than demanding or berating, you’re checking in.

Three tactics for checking in:

1. Ask open-ended questions that allow a person to reply in an open, direct way. Examples: “How’s it going, Dan, on your portion of the presentation?” Or “Ellen, wow, it’s great to see so many names on the event sign-up sheet. What are people most excited about?”

2. Probe with a general question such as, “How’s it going?” or “What’s happening?” if you have a strong personal and professional relationship. If there’s trust between you, the person will feel comfortable answering. It also allows you to glean what’s on someone’s mind.

3. Suggest a proactive strategy like meeting once a week to go over loose ends, or being “cc’d” on e-mails. It’s setting a standard that you want to have positive and anticipated communication.

Tip: If you’re the one being checked up on, try suggesting the third strategy to your micromanager.

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