This 30-second check-in will make your meetings more effective

If I had a nickel for every time a coworker unintentionally piled-on to an already terrible-no-good-very-bad day, I would be the Duchess of Nickels. And, if I had a nickel for every time this pandemic has made for one of those aforementioned terrible-no-good-very-bad days, I’d be… I don’t know, a Double-Duchess.

The point is, holding meetings in the midst of this pandemic can feel like navigating a minefield: We still have to get things done, but we also want to be empathetic to our teammates’ potentially turbulent home lives and headspaces. More practically, we want our message to be heard.

That’s why Speechless builds one nifty tool into all of our team meetings to help us communicate and work together more effectively — especially in high-stress times like these.

The Traffic Light

The Traffic Light, or “Red Yellow Green,” has been written about by CEOs at companies like Etsy, Gimlet, FullContact. It’s almost insultingly simple: teams kick off a meeting by briefly sharing how they’re feeling, on a scale of red, yellow, or green. No wrong answers.

  • Green means you’re feeling “good, focused, relaxed, energized, and ready for any discussion.”
  • Red means you’re “distracted, distressed, overwhelmed, or exhausted.”
  • Yellow is somewhere in between.

Essentially, the Traffic Light is just that: a signal that tells us to stop, go, or proceed with caution with our teammates. Executive coach Connor Swenson notes that “it’s not “team therapy,” it’s a short and sweet check-in — the only requirement is authenticity. (It also helps if leaders go first)

“But I’m a businessperson, not a baby!”

No, you’re not a baby. But, you are a human being — and so are your teammates. Checking in isn’t an excuse to baby our coworkers, but an opportunity to meet them where they are in the moment.

You wouldn’t give a eulogy at a birthday party, and you probably shouldn’t pitch your cutting edge idea (that’s also going to double everyone’s workload) to someone when they’ve been up since 5am homeschooling children — or at least, you might broach it with a different tone. (Anyone else make a note to use the word “broach” more? Just me? Cool.)

See: Businessperson *with* babies.

This kind of check-in also achieves tangible business outcomes: The Harvard Business Review writes that Rotterdam Eye Hospital improved both patient safety and caregiver job satisfaction just by implementing a “10-minute team-start check-in” at the start of each day. How? By helping them identify where people may need additional support, and encouraging honesty amongst teammates.

Just try it once and see how it goes.

If it totally bombs, let me know and we’ll send you a personal apology video (think I’m joking? Here’s my email). But there’s a reason why organizations we work with sing the Traffic Light’s praises.

And hey, if you find that your team’s pandemic base-line is orange? Maybe a good time to acknowledge that. After all, businesspeople are people too.

The Point: Be honest…

Learn more about how Speechless works with innovative companies like Google, Disney, and Salesforce here! You know you’re curious…



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