Any workplace can say they’re agile, but that claim doesn’t mean much if you aren’t regularly seeking ways to improve the way you work. You can start right now by reviewing these strategies for simplifying your team’s daily stand-up meeting. (See that? You’re already one step closer to a more productive work day.)
1. Actually stand up.
When chairs are present for a meeting, it’s natural for people to take a seat, check their email, sip coffee, and chat with co-workers. You want your team to be comfortable socializing with each other, but the primary goal of a stand-up is to cover key points as efficiently as possible. So keep your team standing and you’ll keep the meeting moving.
With that being said, be flexible enough to accommodate any co-worker who is unable to stand due to physical limitations. You can be inclusive while still maintaining the spirit of the stand-up concept.
2. Set the agenda in advance.
Once you get in the habit of having stand-ups, your team will have a general idea of what to expect on a daily basis. But it’s still wise to give people a heads-up as to what you’ll discuss in the meeting so they can prepare ahead of time. Send the agenda via email, Slack, or your team’s preferred messaging system at the end of the work day so they have time to look it over.
The agenda also gives you an opportunity to remind the team that you’ll be discussing points of the project and not how various team members are performing. Schedule one-on-ones for another time so everyone has the chance to get specific feedback from their manager.
3. Make sure everyone is prepared.
Stress the importance of having notes ready to go before every stand-up. Everyone’s time is valuable, so make the most of these short daily check-ins by having a few talking points written down before it’s time to meet.
Being prepared also means that each team member knows their role going into the meeting. Some people suggest having a rotating schedule of meeting leaders and note takers; other teams will benefit from having consistent roles each day. As you get into the habit of running daily stand-ups, ask your team for feedback on which style works best for them, then adjust accordingly.
4. Keep it short.
As Maja Majewski at Planview explains, “Daily stand-ups should feel more like a huddle during a timeout of a soccer game rather than a board meeting.” The most important aspect of a stand-up meeting is to be quick and efficient. Keep the meeting to 15 minutes or less if possible, but ideally no longer than 20 minutes. Anything longer than that usually means that people are bringing up too many points or going into too much detail. If needed, you can follow up with individual team members later in the day.
5. Bring up challenges, but not solutions (yet).
This might seem counterintuitive—after all, how often are people told to avoid solutions?—but keep the stand-up report limited to progress and pain points. Coming up with a solution involves brainstorming, and that’s not how you should use your time during a stand-up. Assign someone to take notes during the meeting so that any big issues can be handled afterward.
6. Be serious about staying on time.
If your team works across multiple time zones, use a tool like Every Time Zone to figure out when your work schedules overlap. Then, when you’ve decided on the best time to meet, stick to that time every day. Consistency is key in establishing new habits.
And this point is so essential we’re going to say it again: keep the meeting short, ideally 15 minutes. The goal is for everyone to get a minute or two to speak, but not any longer than that. Try assigning a timekeeper to keep track of each person’s speaking time. Or, make it into a game and bring a stopwatch to the meeting and see who can cover their points most succinctly.
7. Take notes of key points.
Even though the stand-up is less than 20 minutes long, you’ll still want somebody to take notes, because some important points will inevitably be forgotten. The notes serve several purposes: you’ll have a physical reminder of everyone’s progress, you’ll be able to address pain points, and you’ll have a reference for where your team needs to focus on developing better solutions.
8. Give everyone a chance to talk.
Some people are more shy than others, so the meeting facilitator needs to make sure that everybody has equal time to speak. Going around the group in a circle is one way to ensure everyone shares; some teams pass around a designated object (a small toy, an office supply, etc.) to signify when it’s someone’s turn to talk.
Remind everyone that you’re having a group conversation and that it’s not a time for one-on-one meetings. You’re there to encourage collaboration, which means having team members address the group as a whole and not just the team leader.
9. Involve remote workers.
Your remote workers are part of the team, too, so be sure they can join the daily stand-up via video conference. With technology like Microsoft Teams, GoToMeeting and Skype, it has never been easier to make it seem as though everyone is in the same room. Have your team circle around a digital whiteboard like Vibe or meet up through the Vibe app on their own devices and get going.
10. Don’t forget to follow up.
What happens at the meeting doesn’t just stay at the meeting. You want to use these daily info-gathering sessions to make sure your team is moving forward on projects and aligning on shared goals. Send out a brief follow-up through Slack or whichever messaging service works best for your business, and check in with anyone who brought up points that need more of your time and attention.
Bonus: Include Vibe as part of your stand-up meetings.
No one said your daily sync had to be dull. Make stand-up meetings more dynamic by using the Vibe board. You can easily share the day’s agenda to a team board, take notes for the team to review, and video conference with workers who aren’t in the office. Adding an engaging visual element keeps the team’s energy up and provides a clear plan to start the day.