How to drive performance and engagement.

Every single organization is searching for ways to increase performance and engagement — ideally without blowing up the company and starting from scratch. But how can you do it?

We know the answer. But it’s easy to overlook, because we expect the solution to such a crucial problem to be complex, theoretical, difficult. And instead it’s deceptively simple. If you want to increase performance and engagement, you don’t need to bog down in extensive lists of competencies, or convoluted cascades of goals, or rigid feedback systems.

Driving performance & engagement isn't about competencies, goals, or feedback systems. Click To Tweet

What you need to do is ensure that team leaders have frequent one-to-one check-ins with their team members about near-term future work.

It really is that simple. Once a week, each team member meets with the team leader so that he or she can course-correct or coach or tweak to make the team member more productive.

We’ve done research on many different organizations, and the data patterns are all the same: add in weekly check-ins, with a tool built for usage, and you see wonderful and immediate increases in engagement.


  1. Calvin Black October 4, 2016 at 4:23 PM - Reply

    Thanks for the segment. What are the tools that you would recommend to promote this consistent check-in? Have you done research comparing tech tools and apps to face to face contact?

    • Marcus Buckingham November 17, 2016 at 3:23 AM - Reply

      Hi Calvin. Thank you so much for watching and for your comment. Head over to — I’d love for you to learn a bit about StandOut Technology. Keep in touch please.

  2. Sanne October 4, 2016 at 6:39 PM - Reply

    Dear Marcus,
    Thank you for sharing this important, simple and yet difficult tool with us.
    I think an app or electronic tool is a great idea, as long as it doesn’t totally replace the direct interaction between team leader and team member. There is nothing that can replace the one-on-one relation (even though I know from my own everyday how difficult it is, management MUST be visible in the organisation). Best, Sanne

    • Marcus Buckingham November 17, 2016 at 3:34 AM - Reply

      You are absolutely right Sanne. Technology should never replace a conversation. The technology should enhance, guide and if designed right – deepen the conversation. The goal being – a quality conversation between team leader and team member — A proven driver of engagement.

  3. Janet Ford October 4, 2016 at 8:54 PM - Reply

    Awesome! So practical and very easy to implement in any work environment. Thanks for sharing your gift 🙂

    • Marcus Buckingham November 17, 2016 at 3:35 AM - Reply

      Thank you Janet.

  4. Karen Bullard October 4, 2016 at 11:00 PM - Reply

    Marcus – thank you for keeping it simple! It’s really a trickle-down system via regular team and 1-on-1 meetings that are short and concise. Just like your post.

    • Marcus Buckingham November 17, 2016 at 3:37 AM - Reply

      Hi Karen — Yes and the right technology can drive that ritual. It’s what the best team leaders do, and do every week consistently.

  5. Lyne Groulx -AtmanCo October 5, 2016 at 12:43 PM - Reply

    Thanks Marcus, back to the basics. You are absolutely right !

    • Marcus Buckingham November 17, 2016 at 3:36 AM - Reply

      Appreciate the comment Lyne.

  6. Wynand December 5, 2016 at 12:55 PM - Reply

    I know one major motivation for people is to have a sense of community and belonging. Do you think this regular check-in drives engagement due to the fact that it adds a sense of being part of the community by regularly communicating this way?

  7. heather April 6, 2017 at 2:52 PM - Reply

    Any advice on how to optimize team check-ins with individual team member check ins in a Performance management/development system that emphasizes team? In the revamp of our performance management process, we want to emphasize team goal setting, performance tracking and performance feedback but recognize that each individual within the team may be at different performance levels and have different development needs. We are committed to frequent check-ins but not sure how to integrate both team and individual in a schedule that is manageable.

  8. Steve Schraedel April 6, 2017 at 6:57 PM - Reply

    Thank you, Marcus.
    My manager checks in with me at least multiple times per week, if not multiple times per day. It makes a world of difference.

    • Marcus Buckingham July 11, 2017 at 11:09 AM - Reply

      Hi Steve,
      It does, doesn’t it? So glad to hear you’ve got such a great manager.

  9. Sarah McLaughlin April 6, 2017 at 9:10 PM - Reply

    This is why I love Situational Leadership II by Ken Blanchard. Frequent 1:1 meetings, quick alignment on what the team member needs and how we need to respond. Thank you!

  10. Michael Zagrodny August 19, 2017 at 5:29 AM - Reply

    Marcus –
    I recently saw your keynote at the Global Leadership Summit @Willow Creek. Great presentation! Absolutely loved it – spot on about performance review process and how inequity abounds in most organization. Is there anyway that you can provide a link to written content that you presented on your slides that day. It was great stuff. I had the opportunity to speak with a member of our senior executive team about your presentation and want to share that actual slide content if possible. Any help would be appreciated.

  11. Debbie Polakiewicz April 11, 2018 at 11:58 AM - Reply

    Absolutely love the research behind the performance and engagement approach. Thank you for the ongoing updates to drive the message! One question. What measures are used to determine Associate compensation?

    • Meredith Bohling April 11, 2018 at 1:20 PM - Reply

      Hi Debbie, we’re so happy you’re enjoying this! Check out our fifth video in the Data Fluency Series, The Case Study, for an example of an HR tool that provides valid people data used to make compensation/promotion/succession decisions. Great question!

  12. Lonnie Gelber May 17, 2018 at 8:17 PM - Reply

    Keep up the great work guyz.

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