In today’s busy world, it’s easy for team members to work separately to accomplish a big goal. They can receive their tasks through tools like Asana, Trello, or Github—and accomplish the work themselves. It’s a convenient working arrangement, but working alone is not always ideal.
A study found that 39% of surveyed employees cite that people in their own organization don’t collaborate enough. In addition, 86% of employees and executives believe lack of collaboration or ineffective communication often leads to workplace failures.
That’s where “standup” or daily 15-minute meetings come in. Here, team members give brief updates on their tasks, progress, and projects. They also discuss road blocks that may affect their ability to finish tasks.
Here’s the 411 on running an effective, short standup meeting:
1. Appoint a facilitator.
Standups are designed to be short meetings.
They’re not for long-discussions about your tasks or solving your team’s obstacles. Sometimes team members may forget this, and veer off topic. They may take too long discussing their issues, and some team members may end up saying nothing at all.
To avoid this situation, assign someone to facilitate the meeting.
Anyone can be the facilitator, but what’s important is that team members don’t take too long to give updates or discuss problems.
2. Assemble all of your team members in the same room with minimal distractions.
They should bring any necessary notes regarding the status of their current projects, but not laptops (except for the facilitator). Just pen/pencil and paper.
3. Remain standing.
Teams are usually taught to stand for the first few times they conduct stand-up meetings because they’ve just finished agile development where they’re usually taught to stand. As time passes, they think that remaining standing sounds like a formality, and that it’s okay to sit down. It’s not.
Standing is core to standup meetings because it helps you maintain your focus and get straight to the point.
This means that you should regularly conduct your stand-up meetings in areas where there are no chairs available. This way, no one is tempted to sit down and the meetings are kept short.
4. Use project management tools that everyone has access to and take notes to update them later.
While team members share their own updates about the project, it’s easy to get lost in the discussion. You may need to assign several new tasks to team members, mark tasks as complete, or resolve issues regarding the task and the project. So, chances are, you’ll forget some of the relevant updates from your team members.
To ensure that this isn’t the case, use your project management tool during the meeting. Open up your Kanban board, Asana, Trello, or any other project management tool that gives you an overview of everyone’s tasks in the project.
Project management tools provide a visual update of what’s happening with your project. They let you know the tasks/cards that are ready to move on to the next stage of a project, the tasks of each team member, as well as tasks that are left sitting in your backlog. Just by looking at these boards you’ll be able to easily determine who’s working on too many tasks, and if there are cards that you forget to discuss.
Don’t update your project management tools during the meeting, as it can take up too much time. Instead, have someone take down notes and update the tools later.
5. Give everyone the opportunity to speak up.
Most standup meetings require team members to answer these questions:
What did you finish yesterday?
What’s in progress for today?
What obstacles are keeping you from achieving your tasks?
You can change up the wording or add more questions as you see fit. What’s important, however, is that everybody in your team has the opportunity to speak up.
Some teams decide the order of people giving updates based on the time of team members’ arrival. The person who arrived last may be the first one to speak up, while the first person may be the last. But you can set this up however you see fit.
6. Focus on updates, not problem-solving.
It’s very easy for a meeting to spiral out of control with debates and extended conversation. The facilitator should work to avoid this; if there are some obstacles team members have, note them down, but don’t discuss or resolve issues in the meeting (unless they’re relevant to the majority of people in your team and are critical to moving ahead).
Any obstacles that don’t have implications for the entire team can be discussed one-on-one with the appropriate team members.
7. Make standups routine.
It’s important to make standup meetings a part of your team’s routine. Otherwise, projects will be completed late or relegated to the back burner. Also, make sure your meetings are a part of everyone’s schedule.
Most teams will schedule standups first thing in the morning—a chance to check in before team members get into the thick of work. Additional standups can be held in the afternoon as needed for long or complex projects.
While these 7 techniques can help you run an effective standup meeting, keep in mind that its primary purpose is to maximize productivity with minimal time investment. If something is getting in the way of this, reconsider where and when you hold your standups, what you’re asking during the meeting, and who is participating. All of these could affect its ultimate value to your team.
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