A Cure for the Disease of BS Check-ins

Fred Boyles
MDI Contributor 

OK, there’s a problem. It’s a disease. And it is something we in our men’s circles must deal with.


Teams have a built-in death trap – it’s the bullshit found in our check-ins.

Men can fall into the habit of taking a stand and checking in at a high number (I’m a 10 out of 10) in order to look good, rather than simply giving a transparent and real check in (I’m a five).

This can go on for years. Team check-ins are supposed to allow men to take down the mask and reveal what area of their lives need work or support. But many men check in with “I had a fight with my wife, but now I am an 9.”

When we met face to face, teams had several men not revealing and hiding behind high numbers.

When overwhelmed with the truth, they would go into their caves for weeks. They’d arise after they forgot about the problem. For months or even years, the men could hide out. This hiding creates a clique of men that are not in the circle to be inspected, criticized or held accountable to their commitments. 

My old team put five team leaders in the job over a three-year period. They were all the newest and most broken men on the team. The clique then beat them up or took over the team meetings. All five team leaders went into their cave for weeks at a time and would not return phone calls or texts. It got so bad that men had to travel to their homes to make sure they were still alive.

This would be the place where a team and a culture would require a comeback.

Solution / Comeback

The comeback from this team disease can be found in the solution: how about having check-ins take place on the phone App called “Marco Polo” – a way to send short video communication. This can be done two to five times per week. That means every man has 8 to 20 check-ins per month. Many times the man can be right in the middle of a problem. By checking-in at this time, he doesn’t really have the time to shift the context to “I’ve got this handled.” He reveals what’s happening in that moment, possibly asking for help at the time.

After 10 months of check ins like this, the new men who normally would start hiding out have now started to really reveal and trust their teammates more and more. 

Today we have a team that brings problems to the team for help before they act. And the teammates use the check-ins as a place to take the mask off, listen to themselves and ask for help as needed.

It’s an honor to be on a team where men embrace being inspected, criticized and held accountable to the actions to which they have committed. What a great shift … available to any team with members who only require a phone and a willingness to be authentic and vulnerable.

6 thoughts on “A Cure for the Disease of BS Check-ins”

  1. Thank you for this article. I think most of us, myself included, don’t underscore the value of a check-in. The check-in sets the tone of the meeting. So imagine for a moment if every Team in MDI had a check-in that was authentic and revealing in nature and it created an intimate, vulnerable and safe space for the men to say what was really on their mind and in their hearts right at the opening instead of having to wait for that to happen in an exercise or circle. Imagine what kind of Team Meeting that would be. Imagine that ALL Teams in MDI had a check-in like that. I believe that that would create something meaningful.

    1. I doubt the solution is in the technology or frequency of a mans check ins. It lies in the trust men have for each other, their willingness to support (challenge) & be supportable (challenged.) If you have men on your team that consistently break their commitments or refuse to make any it is your duty to hold them to account, but I do not favour the idea of a check in being turned into a circle or inspection at the drop of a hat. Imagine what that would do to a leaders agenda every week. Good team meetings have time for men to express their concerns & men with the courage to express their concerns for others.

  2. I found Marco Polo annoying, but never really got into with any real intention of a “true” check in. It quickly became a platform for silliness.

  3. Relationships, calls with team members afterthe team .eating can work for cling bulletin on checking. Or if you know your mencall BS right away during he circle. Us checking by numbers has become dooma in most circles.


  4. My commitment got all missed up above. I will try again.
    Relationships, calls with team members after the team meeting, can work for calling men on their check-in bullshit. Or if you know your men/man have more going on than what they are saying, then say something right then. Otherwise you are selling them out and your team.
    Call all BS right away. Using checking in by numbers has become dogma in most circles. So, find a different way to get to the truth. This Marco Polo idea, would not work in my division. To many old timers for a silley game around real life issues.

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