Meeting Tips

How To Conduct An Effective Catch-Up Meeting (With Agenda Template)

Published
October 18, 2023
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7
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Updated
January 4, 2024
Jenna Pitkälä
How To Conduct An Effective Catch-Up Meeting (With Agenda Template)
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In the bustling world of corporate life, where formal meetings and strict schedules often dominate, there's a breath of fresh air: the catch-up meeting.

Whether you're planning to catch up with someone online or on-site, this blog helps you with the nuances of these informal chats, highlighting their importance and offering insights into conducting them effectively.

Read more to learn about:

  • Understanding Catch-Up Meetings
  • Preparing for a Catch-Up Meeting
  • Conducting Successful Catch-Up Meetings

Understanding Catch-Up Meetings

Sometimes it's nice to have a more relaxed meeting between a boss and an employee to bring a more humane perspective to work. After all, we're not robots who never have personal and emotional burdens affecting our work. Let's look at what catching up at work really is about.

Definition and Purpose

A catch-up meeting, as the name suggests, is a place for two or more colleagues members to, well, catch up after a certain period of time (for example a week). Unlike regular meetings, where the agenda might be filled with talking points and strict objectives, a catch-up call is more relaxed. It's a great space to check in with each other, review progress, and discuss feedback.

Who Are They For?

There is no clear rule, because people can catch up with different types of colleagues or even clients.

However, in this blog, we're focusing on catch-up meetings that take place between employers or managers and their direct subordinates.

Think of one-on-one meetings where the team leader can discuss work related matters while also checking in on the well-being and personal lives of their employees. There's a two-fold benefit: you get to know the progress of your team's tasks and also ensure the mental health and job satisfaction of your team members are in check.

Benefits

  • Better Relationships: It encourages team members to form connections, speak freely, and share honest opinions without the pressure of a formal meeting setting.
  • Regular Updates: It provides a platform to discuss progress, potential challenges, and any recent events affecting a specific project or team.
  • Feedback Loop: Allows for open communication where employees can receive feedback and managers can gain insights from the ground up.

Unique Features

Catch-up meetings stand out from regular meetings in various ways:

  • Duration: They're typically shorter. No one wants to sit through an hour-long meeting discussing how another meeting went.
  • Atmosphere: They have a relaxed and warm atmosphere, making it easier for team members to share about both their current tasks and emotional state.
  • Flexibility: There's no strict agenda. It's more about open discussion than ticking off points from a list.

Preparing for a Catch-Up Meeting

When it comes to catch-up meetings, preparation is the key, but not in the way you might think. You're not planning a grand gala event, after all. It's about ensuring that both parties are clear about the objectives and that the setting is conducive for open discussion.

Setting Clear Objectives

Before diving into your next catch-up meeting, it's vital to determine what you want to achieve. Having clear goals ensures the discussion stays on track, even in an informal setting. It might be to:

  • Review the progress of a specific project.
  • Discuss feedback received from other team members.
  • Address any potential challenges or hurdles.

Choosing the Right Cadence

The beauty of catch-up meetings is their flexibility. While some teams might benefit from regular catch-up meetings every week, others might find a monthly check-in more suitable. The meeting cadence should reflect the team's needs and the pace at which projects or tasks evolve.

Selecting Participants

Though we're focusing on meetings between managers and their direct reports, it's essential to decide who should be in the meeting. Sometimes, including another team member can provide a fresh perspective or help address specific issues more effectively.

Agenda Creation

Now, while a catch-up meeting agenda is more relaxed, having a loose structure can be beneficial. It doesn't mean you need a rigid meeting agenda template that you follow to the letter.

Instead, consider the following template a guiding light, ensuring you cover all key points without the meeting veering off too much. Depending on the needs of the meeting and the participants, you can spend more time on certain sections or even introduce new ones.

Conducting Successful Catch-Up Meetings

Organizing a catch-up meeting is one thing, but ensuring it's productive is another. Here's how to run effective catch-up meetings without making them feel like a chore.

Duration and Focus

Catch-up meetings should be brisk and impactful. Aim for:

  • 15 to 30 minutes for regular catch-ups.
  • Up to 45 minutes if there are specific issues or feedback to address.

Open Communication and Two-Way Conversations

The beauty of a catch-up meeting is the dialogue it fosters. It's not about monologues or one-sided presentations. To avoid awkward silences and boredom, as a manager or team leader:

  • Foster a friendly atmosphere. For instance, starting the meeting with, "How's your week been so far?" can set a positive tone.
  • Actively listen. If an employee mentions feeling overwhelmed, dive deeper with questions like, "What tasks are taking up most of your time?"
  • Encourage sharing. Prompt with, "Were there any challenges you faced with the recent project update?"
  • Value feedback from both ends. If discussing a new policy, ask, "How do you feel this will impact your workflow?"

Utilizing Note-Taking Technology

People often forget about or feel like it's too awkward to write down notes in a casual setting while the other person is talking. It still might be beneficial, because you can't remember everything important that was discussed.

What if an employee shares a unique idea to streamline a process? Or mentions a training program they're interested in that could benefit the entire team? Taking notes doesn't just serve as a memory aid, but also as a record of commitments, suggestions, and feedback.

You could, of course, make notes yourself and go through every line to find the information you're looking for from bullet points.

Or you might want to consider Wudpecker, whose AI-note-taking tool can make notes for on-site and online meetings. But it doesn't stop there; you can also ask it specific questions after the meeting, like "Did John mention any additional resources or support they need?"

Check out this blog below for more inspiration for AI prompts to try with Wudpecker!

Best Practices for Effectiveness

To make the most of your catch-up meetings:

  • Specific Time Limit: For example, set a timer to keep everyone aware of the duration. Even in relaxed meetings, you have to respect people's busy schedules.
  • Avoid Distractions: Create a rule: No checking emails or phones during the meeting. This ensures everyone is present and engaged.
  • Follow-Up: After discussing a team member's progress on a project, send a brief meeting recap email summarizing the key points and any action items. Wudpecker's automatically generated Action Items streamline this process tremendously.
  • Preparation: Encourage team members to come with a list of their top 3 talking points. This ensures the meeting remains focused and productive.

Conclusion

Catch-up meetings, with their unique blend of informality and purpose, have emerged as vital touchpoints in today's dynamic work environment. Whether it's about keeping tabs on a project's advancement, ensuring team members' well-being, or fostering open communication, these meetings play a pivotal role.

With the insights and best practices shared in this guide, you're well-equipped to make the most of your catch-up meetings, enhancing team productivity and fostering stronger relationships.

FAQs

What's the primary difference between a catch-up meeting and a regular team meeting?

A catch-up meeting is typically an informal gathering, focusing on individual updates, well-being, and two-way feedback between managers and their direct subordinates.

On the other hand, regular team meetings often address broader team goals, project updates, and formal agendas. The atmosphere in a catch-up meeting promotes a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, making it distinct from more structured team meetings.

How often should I schedule catch up meetings?

The frequency of catch-up meetings varies based on the team's needs and the meeting cadence that works best for them. Some teams benefit from weekly catch-ups, providing regular updates and staying aligned. Others might find bi-weekly or monthly sessions more suitable, especially if they already have other regular meetings in place.

The key is to strike a balance that ensures effective communication without overwhelming team members' schedules.

How do you start a catch up meeting?

Starting a catch-up meeting on a positive note sets the tone for open communication. Begin by asking about the team member's well-being or any recent events in their personal lives.

A simple "How has your week been?" or "Anything new or exciting happen since our last meeting?" can break the ice and foster a friendly atmosphere. Once the initial pleasantries are exchanged, you can transition into work-related matters, reviewing progression and discussing feedback.

What is the objective of a catch up meeting?

The primary objective of a catch-up meeting is to provide a platform for open discussion between managers and their employees or between colleagues. It's a time to review progress, address challenges, and share feedback in a relaxed setting.

Apart from discussing work-related matters, catch-up meetings also focus on the emotional state and well-being of team members, ensuring a holistic approach to team productivity, job satisfaction and personal growth.

Do catch-up meetings replace the need for formal performance reviews?

No, catch-up meetings complement formal reviews by providing regular touchpoints for feedback and open communication.

While formal performance reviews offer a structured evaluation of an employee's performance over a longer period, catch-up meetings allow for continuous feedback, helping address issues in real-time and fostering stronger relationships between managers and their direct reports.

How can I ensure my catch-up meetings are productive?

To make sure you have effective catch up meetings:

  • Set a clear objective for the meeting, understanding what you aim to achieve.
  • Foster open communication, allowing team members to speak freely and share their progress and challenges.
  • Use a catch-up meeting agenda as a guiding light, even if it's not strictly adhered to.
  • Always follow up with a summary of the discussed points, ensuring everyone's on the same page.

Can catch-up meetings be conducted virtually for remote teams?

Absolutely! By leveraging technology and using tools like video conferencing and automated note-takers, virtual catch-ups can be just as effective as in-person ones.

The key is to maintain open communication channels, ensuring that team members feel valued and connected, regardless of their physical location.

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Catch-Up Meeting Agenda Template

Date: [Insert Date]
Time: [Insert Start Time] - [Insert End Time]
Location: [Specify if it's an in-person or virtual meeting and provide necessary details or links]

1. Personal Check-In (5 minutes)

  • Quick chat about recent personal events or updates.
  • Any vacations or time-offs planned?

2. Review of Last Meeting's Action Items (5 minutes)

  • Discuss the status of tasks or projects discussed in the last catch up meeting.
  • Were there any hurdles or challenges?

3. Current Work Updates (10 minutes)

  • Share updates on ongoing projects or tasks.
  • Discuss any new assignments or responsibilities.

4. Feedback and Open Discussion (10 minutes)

  • Any feedback on recent work or projects?
  • Open floor for any concerns, suggestions, or questions.

5. Goals and Objectives for the Coming Period (5 minutes)

  • Set or review short-term objectives for the next catch up meeting.
  • Any specific areas of focus or improvement?

6. Concluding Remarks and Next Steps (5 minutes)

  • Summarize key points discussed.
  • Schedule the next catch up meeting or note down any action items.
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