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Mastering the Art of Catch-up Meetings | A 10-Lesson Guide

By 
Victoire Léveilley
 on 
October 27, 2023
Remote Works

What is a catch-up meeting?

A catch-up meeting is a casual and flexible gathering of two or more people at work. It provides an informal opportunity to discuss both business issues and, above all, personal feelings. 

We live in a fast-paced world, where business relationships are too often dictated by performance imperatives. Catch-up meetings are the perfect way to take a breath and put people back at the heart of your business.

The objectives of a catch-up meeting are to:

  • Strengthen the relationship between people who meet. Catch-ups foster positive working relationships. They also encourage camaraderie among colleagues;
  • Share updates. Whether it's about work issues or more personal matters;
  • Discuss challenges. These meetings are a way to identify and address challenges, roadblocks, or issues that team members may be facing;
  • Give everyone a voice. A catch-up is a privileged moment for a team member to make his or her ideas heard informally.

The agenda of catch-up meetings is flexible, so everyone can share their impressions, feedback and concerns.

Regular meetings vs. Catch-up meetings

Regular meetings and catch-ups are distinct styles of workplace gatherings. 

If I had to find a comparison, I'd say that traditional meetings are like fancy dinner parties with suits and etiquette. Whereas catch-up meetings are more like grabbing burgers with friends – casual and easygoing.

Traditional meetings are usually formal, structured, and follow a regular schedule. They are relatively exhaustive in their content. The subject of the meeting is well defined and you approach it in a structured way. Think of your weekly or monthly team meetings for example.

It’s different for catch-up meetings. Just grab a coffee and relax, catch-up meetings  are much more casual, short and spontaneous than regular meetings. Besides, you don't just discuss business issues. You focus mainly on the person in front of you and their feelings.

Benefits of catch-up meetings for your company

You think that taking time out for catch-ups is a waste of time driving your business? Quite the contrary, in fact… Let me prove you wrong.

Putting people back at the heart of the company

Catch-up meetings are a powerful tool for recentering your organization's focus on its most valuable asset – people. 

By gathering regularly to discuss progress, challenges, and successes, catch-up meetings remind everyone that individuals are at the core of the company's success. This will improve your teams' sense of belonging.

Strengthen relationships between colleagues

Catch-up meetings give you opportunities to build and strengthen relationships among your team. By encouraging open communication, they foster a sense of unity and mutual support.

The objective is to create a positive, collaborative atmosphere where your team members feel comfortable working together. 

You can be sure that a positive environment and a close-knit team will certainly improve work quality.

Gauging Team Health by Gathering Feedback

A critical objective of catch-up meetings is to gauge the well-being of teams. During catch-up meetings, your colleagues can voice their concerns and provide insights into their experiences.

Listen to them carefully. Their feedback is invaluable and should be taken into account as soon as possible.

Has your trainee jokingly reproached you for not sharing enough of your Excel tips? Note this in the back of your mind and suggest a training session the following week.

How to run an effective catch-up meeting: a 10-lesson guide

Step 1: Set the Objectives, You Must

A catch-up meeting can have many different objectives. Here is a non-exhaustive list:

  • Get to know a new colleague;
  • Check team dynamics;
  • Understand goals and aspirations of your colleagues;
  • Get an idea of the progression curve;
  • Find out about project difficulties;
  • Get/Provide feedback on management.

As these meetings are informal, it's easy to talk about the rain and shine... And ultimately to get lost. Define your catch-up objectives in advance to make sure you don't get lost in your (very interesting, I have no doubt) digressions.

Step 2: The Frequency, You Choose

The frequency of catch-up meetings is flexible. To determine the right frequency, you need to consider two factors:

  • Your colleague's needs: Listen carefully. Some people will prefer very regular catch-ups. Others will prefer fewer catch-ups, but perhaps longer ones each time;
  • Time availability: Catch-ups shouldn't take up all your days.

Thus, depending on your time and on your team's needs, you may start to propose weekly or bi-weekly catch-up meetings. As you receive feedback from your colleagues, you can then adjust the frequency.

But let's not lose our common sense: if you feel that one of your colleagues needs a chat, don't wait any longer and suggest a catch-up.

Step 3: Find the right time and the right duration, You Should

How to choose the right timing?

You should consider the work schedules and preferences of your team. 

Typically, scheduling catch-up meetings at the start or end of the workday or before or after lunch can be effective because they don't cut out any activities. 

However, the key is to find a time that suits everyone and doesn't disrupt their workflow. Share your calendars and choose the best time together. Don’t forget to check that schedules are suitable for all time zones if you have remote workers joining the meeting.

How to choose the right duration?

It all depends on the number of people present at the catch-up and the density of the issues to be addressed.

If you're talking to just one person who doesn't necessarily have any problems talking to you, about 15 minutes will be enough.

On the other hand, if you're holding a catch-up with a whole team of 3 or 4 people who want to complain, you may need half an hour or more.

Step 4: Organize the Set-up, You Will

The key to a successful catch-up meeting? Putting your audience at ease. This applies to both in-person and online catch-up meetings.

Set-up for a physical catch-up meeting

  • Option 1: Choose a comfortable and quiet meeting room in your office, preferably away from distractions. Ensure that the room is well-lit, and the seating arrangement encourages interaction.
  • Option 2 (my personal favorite): Ask the person/people you're talking to to have a chat over coffee. You can sit in a quiet corner of the cafeteria if your office setup allows it. Or go straight to the café around the corner, where you're sure not to bump into all your colleagues.

Set-up for an online catch-up meeting

Not all your colleagues work in the office? No problem, online catch-up meetings are your solutions. You no longer need to match your on-site days. A few guidelines for an effective online set-up:

  • Choose a video meeting platform that you and your colleagues have access to and are familiar with;
  • Ask your colleagues to "raise their hands" on the platform to speak if there are more than two of you. This will avoid cacophony;
  • Make yourself comfortable.

Step 5: Setting the (informal) Agenda, You Will

Even if they're informal, catch-up meetings need their agendas to make sure you don't get lost. An agenda doesn't need to be very long. You just need to make sure you cover the key points to achieve the meeting's objective.

Here, for example, is a template for a weekly one-to-one catch-up:

Date: [Date]

Duration: [Time]

Agenda:

1. Updates and Roadblocks‍

  • ‍Allow your team members to share updates.
  • Address any concerns or challenges they're facing.

2. Progress on Goals

  • ‍Review progress toward individual goals.
  • Discuss achievements and setbacks.

3. Feedback and Coaching

  • ‍Provide constructive feedback.
  • Offer guidance and support as needed.

4. Action Items

  • ‍Document action items for both manager and employee.
  • Ensure accountability and follow-through.

5. Development Opportunities (optional)

  • ‍Identify areas for skill development or growth.
  • Discuss opportunities for career advancement.

Here you'll find lots more tips and templates for your meeting agendas.

Step 6: Discuss Important Topics, You Will

Many subjects can be discussed during a catch-up. Among the most important are:

  • Progress review. Discuss your colleague's experience in the company/project. You’ll be able to review progress and difficulties together. You can also talk about work-life balance, ask if she/he feels good in the company, and ask for feedback. Watch out! This catch-up is not a formal performance review.
  • Personal topics. Share personal updates, while remaining within the bounds of professionalism. For example, your colleague has just bought an apartment. It’s important for both of you to know she will have to manage the painting work for a few weeks;
  • Work-life balance. In our always-connected world, finding a work-life balance can be challenging. We all know how stressful it can be to receive a message saying "free tomorrow at 9 a.m.? Let's have a chat" when it's 8 p.m. and you're having a beer with friends. So talk to your colleague about his or her approach to this problem to find the best possible arrangements.
  • Goals and aspirations. In the short or long term, how does your colleague see his or her future with the company?
  • Feedback. More about it in the next lesson…

Step 7: Ask for Feedback, You Have To

As you conclude your catch-up meeting, it's important for you to proactively seek feedback from your team members.

So don't hesitate and just ask:

If you are a manager, it's an opportunity to hear what would be more difficult to confess in a formal context. If you're meeting with colleagues of the same hierarchical level, you'll be able to demonstrate your team spirit.

Step 8: Stay on Schedule, You Must

And that goes for all meetings…

Step 9: Take Notes, Always Remember To

The idea is not to have eyes only for your pen and paper, of course. But you do need to be able to listen attentively, while noting the key points of the meeting. Check-out how to efficiently make minutes meeting.

If you're catching-up online, you don't want your colleagues to think you're doing something else as you’re writing notes... We recommend that you use Claap, which records your meeting. It also provides you with automatic meeting notes or even detailed AI-powered summary of the key points discussed. 

No need to concentrate on note-taking, you'll be 100% focused on the discussion.

Step 10: Follow Up, Vital It Is

Catch-up meetings shouldn’t be just words thrown in the air over coffee. They have to be followed by effective action. Your colleague told you last Tuesday that he didn't feel involved enough in customer meetings? Check with him how to give him the lead on certain pitches.

Don’t forget to share your notes in Notion, Slack or emails - Claap integrates perfectly with these applications. It enables you to follow up on action items to ensure proper execution.

Last thing you need to do: document your decisions. This can be very important for future projects that encounter problems similar to those you have dealt with, for example

Best Practices for catch up meetings

Find the right balance between business and personal topics

By striking the right balance between these topics, your interlocutor will feel more comfortable and confident about sharing his or her feelings. 

Talking about personal topics will enable you to maintain a better relationship than if you only discussed work.

Engage the team

A catch-up meeting shouldn't be a mere formality. It can't be nap time either. On the contrary, catch-up meetings must be dynamic. To achieve this, engage your teams actively and encourage them to share their thoughts.

You have to create an enjoyable and interactive atmosphere, much like hosting a fun dinner party. Here are a few tips:

  • Start with a warm welcome to set the tone and encourage team members to share updates and thoughts;
  • Add some interactive elements, like icebreakers or visuals, to spark discussions;
  • Define ground rules to keep criticism constructive;
  • Ask open-ended questions such as “How can this situation be improved?” or “What are your suggestions?” ;
  • Vary meeting formats;
  • Actively listen to show you value their input;
  • Don't forget to celebrate wins;
  • Maintain a positive, supportive vibe throughout.

Just like at a great party, the goal is for everyone to have a good time and leave feeling heard and appreciated.

Look for (Find?) solutions right away

Show your teams that catch-ups are a way of solving problems right away. This will empower your catch-up: your colleagues will understand that they can make a difference by voicing their concerns.

One of your colleagues thinks you're using too many different tools to store your project data? It's time for everyone to brainstorm and choose a tool together. 

For this very issue, I can't help but whisper to your colleague to look into Claap, an all-in-one video workspace.  All the team has to do is test Claap for 14 days for free with all its premium features (no credit card needed) and debrief at the next catch-up!

Navigating Obstacles in Catch-Up Meetings:

 

Now that we've seen the best practices for running a successful catch-up meeting, let's take a look at the obstacles to be avoided.

Don't overlook preparation

Just because you may talk about personal matters in a relaxed atmosphere doesn't mean you should come to your interview with your hands in your pockets.

Catch-ups are generally quite short, so you don't have time to lose sight of the meeting's objectives. On the other hand, you'll often be discussing more personal subjects. Be careful not to confuse each other's subjects, or you'll look a bit silly.

To help you manage your e-catch-up meetings and consult them at any time, store them in one place in Claap's video wiki.

You've got a catch-up with Steve at 1pm, but can't remember in detail what Steve said last time during your online catch-up? Don’t panic, it's easy to find the meeting recording in the Claap workspace.

Don't make the meeting too formal

Your colleagues put enough pressure on themselves at work. There's no need to burden them with the prospect of a catch-up/evaluation. 

Be sure to create a friendly atmosphere to put your interviewer at ease. A catch-up meeting should be a safe place to share impressions without fear of judgment in return.

Special tips for online catch-up meetings

Nowadays, many meetings are held online. So you'll need to organize online catch-ups too. And yet, as we all know, it's not always easy to create a bond through a screen... Let's take a look at how to make your online catch-up meeting a success.

  • Share your agenda in advance to the participants;
  • Use tools that you master and that make discussion easy and enjoyable;
  • Test your internet connection and video/audio equipment before the meeting;
  • Make yourself comfortable;
  • Be sure to show-up on time;
  • Put on your cameras. We'd all rather see a beautiful smile than a black screen, especially when you talk about your vacation in Italy;
  • Record the meeting. If one of your colleagues can't attend the catch-up, they'll be happy to watch it or read the notes.
  • Ensure that materials and content are accessible to all participants. With Claap, you'll find all your multimedia content (meeting recording, video training, screen recording for your product demo, etc.) in one place.

The final word? Don't forget to enjoy these catch-up meetings! They're a great way to get to know your colleagues and share interesting experiences with each other.

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