New tools to improve performance
on July 21, 2021 (last modified on November 26, 2021) • 15 minute read
It’s a brand new day — how many meetings do you have on your calendar?
The chances are good that no matter what industry your company falls in, or the department your team runs, you have at least one meeting today.
If you don’t, you’re missing out on the chance to either facilitate or attend one of the most common and potentially productive types of meeting out there –the daily standup meeting.
Would you like to learn how to get the most out of these meetings? You’ve come to the right place. We asked 50+ experts what they do to improve their daily standups, and they shared 13 unique tips.
A daily standup meeting, which can sometimes be called a scrum or a daily scrum, is a short meeting, typically 15 minutes, where a team comes together to get aligned on various tasks to ensure everyone has a productive day.
These meetings are when a team plans ahead of time to meet so that all attendees can find out what everyone worked on the previous day, what is on their to-do list today, ask each other questions, and see if anyone is experiencing blockers.
Daily standups are popular in many departments, and when asking our audience, they’re the most common in the marketing and management departments.
Whether you’re a manager acting as the meeting facilitator or a daily standup attendee, there are ways that you can ensure the standup is as efficient and productive as possible. Check out these 13 tips that you can apply to your next daily standup.
Only interested in a specific tip? Jump ahead to:
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As mentioned, daily standup meetings are usually short and sweet, roughly 15 minutes. Because of this, it’s important that your team sets a time limit for these meetings — and stick to it. Not only will this keep everyone on track and on pace, but it allows attendees to know in advance how much time of their day the meeting will take up.
“During a daily standup, it’s best to set a maximum time limit so that everyone can have their turns speaking. It’s the best way to keep everyone aligned and to prevent someone from getting off track. Keep talking points concise and avoid rambling. To have an effective meeting, discuss things that are valuable to the majority, if not the entirety.
If you need more time to discuss a status update, discuss it after the stand-up meeting so you won’t consume everybody’s time,” shares Lauri Kinka at Messent.
Explaining how to set a time limit further is Ryan Stewart at Webris. Stewart shares, “Ideally, daily standups should last for a maximum of 15 minutes. And it is meant to be that way. It is a short, synchronous meeting that has the goal to get people on the same page, review progress, and align around who is doing what. Aside from the common things you do in daily standups, you must learn the importance of getting your people engaged.
People have a low attention span, and their minds wander around quickly. So, you must know how to keep your team engaged. For a starter, you can start with a joke just to make it less formal. This will make their interest high. Or you can pass a token around to indicate who shall speak next. This will make them focus on the meeting.” You can also see how much time your employees spend on average attending these meetings with the help of this employee time tracking dashboard.
No matter what industry your organization is within, one thing that managers and employees alike all need to keep an eye out for is… burnout. As your team gathers each day to check in on one another, try and get a sense of how the team is feeling.
Does the team feel energized, productive, and happy to be there, or is the energy low with people feeling disengaged or bored? You always want to do a quick pulse check on how people are really doing.
For this, Dhruv Saxen at Paus recommends, “Apart from the regular questions that come up at a stand-up, we also briefly discuss whether everyone’s feeling motivated, energetic, frustrated or burnt out. This helps us identify potential problems when they’re small, and take appropriate action like giving a team member some time off, or re-evaluating their workload and role.”
Adding to the importance of taking the time to conduct a temperature check on your team is Elizabeth Harrin from GirlsGuideToPM. Harrin elaborates to say, “ If I had to pinpoint the one thing that’s important to do during a daily standup, it would be a temperature check. I’d like to know how everyone is feeling. I might not ask because sometimes you can pick that up from body language or tone of voice, or I might ask with a range of questions instead of the same one every day. But as the role of the standup is to discuss progress and current roadblocks, being able to identify the mood of the team is important.
If someone is feeling down, they might need extra help and not know how to ask for it. Perhaps the team is daunted by the scale of the work ahead, someone has something going on at home, or there is something else I haven’t picked up on yet. Being an empathetic team member and looking out for that kind of thing is helpful to keep the team on track and to make sure support is available, whatever sort of support that might be.”
If your team is remote, or you work in a hybrid office where some attendees are joining using video conferencing software, it’s still possible to lend the support that a team member may need. “ When done virtually, consistently ask the team to rate how they are feeling out of five with a show of fingers. This will allow you to see if there is anyone who might need a bit of extra support that day, especially when you cannot get a read on a room as everyone is at home,” shares Michael Lantry at GemPool.
As an attendee, you must always arrive at a daily standup meeting with discussion points so time isn’t wasted and the conversation can be as productive as possible. This applies to all types of meetings, no matter who’s attending.
In order to make this work, Phil Pearce at MeasureMinds Group suggests, “A series of action points should be bullet-pointed for stand-up meetings. Every team member should have certain deliverables and action points to discuss. This way, your team can give each other clear, concise, and understandable points about what they are currently working on and what they plan to work on.”
Expanding further on this tip is Alina Clark at CocoDoc. “Every stand-up meeting should have a goal or a set agenda. It’s crucial that everyone who attends the meeting understands what they’re coming to discuss. So often, teams schedule standup meetings which degenerate into pointless status updates that could be done through emails. This ends up wasting a lot of time.
The agenda of a standup meeting should be set way before the meeting. As a manager, your responsibility is to make sure that everyone understands what the meeting is about. Setting an agenda will help you focus on the issues. A highly focused stand-up meeting also ends up being short because everyone comes ready to brainstorm over that specific issue,” shares Clark.
Making sure attendees arrive with discussion points can be what takes a meeting from moderately useful to very useful.
No matter what challenges the team faces, a daily standup meeting is a perfect time to promote team-building exercises and come up with solutions together.
To do this, Jacob Villa at School Authority recommends, “Discuss potential roadblocks and possible solutions. This is perhaps one of the most important functions of a daily standup. When you monitor your team’s progress, you should always be on the lookout for anything that could act as an obstacle or create a setback to such progress. Once identified, allow the rest of the team to offer possible solutions to address it. Most of the time, these roadblocks have probably been encountered by other people before, and there might already be an existing solution for it. By allocating a few minutes to brainstorming a problem, you are going to save a lot of hours in the future from getting stuck with it.”
If you’re looking to start the daily standup meeting on a good note, try sharing positive outcomes or good news with the team.
“During our daily standups, we start with the outcome we are most proud of from the day before. Leading with positivity and self-acknowledgment rather than hopping right into tasks maintains high morale and promotes self-confidence on the team,” recommends Lauren Kennedy at Coastal Consulting.
James Crawford from DealDrop elaborates further to share, “ We like to keep motivated, so the golden rule is, at every standup, a piece of good news will be shared with the team. It can be anything, a birthday or anniversary among the attendees, success at sports, someone mastered a new tune to play on their guitar. To the person involved, each of these is a major event, and to have it recognized by their teammates provides that little boost to their self-esteem.”
If you’ve ever been unsure of what a team member is really spending their day doing, a daily standup meeting is a perfect way to get a sense of what the daily responsibilities of your team entails.
“The most important thing to discuss during a daily standup is everyone’s general tasks for the day. Each person should give a minute or less account of what they’re working on that day. I’ve noticed this approach leads to more productive days and increased accountability,” shares Emmett Garvey from Coffee Affection.
This can especially be helpful if your team is spread out amongst different offices or is working remotely. Drew Dull at 2 East 8th Productions elaborates further to say, “Since we work remotely in different locations, we hold a daily virtual standup while drinking our morning coffee. The one thing we make sure to always discuss is our individual goal for that day. This daily goal is a part of the larger yearly goal, so it not only gets us one step closer to reaching that but also holds each of us accountable and provides a little pep in our step first thing in the morning. Go team, go!”
If you want your daily standup meeting to be a success, it’s key that all attendees are involved in the discussion. While this can be challenging for larger items, it’s essential for team building, camaraderie, and enabling a collaborative workforce.
Jon Buchan at Charm Offensive shares further to say, “Always establish a two-way conversation. For a stand-up meeting to create an impact, it should make everyone an integral part of the process. This means you shouldn’t be the only one speaking. Allow team members to take part in conversations and share their ideas. When you do that, it contributes to a cohesive and communicative workforce that is driven to help the company achieve its goals.”
If you’re struggling to get everyone involved, make sure that these meetings are taking place in person and not simply in writing.
Something that can truly make or break the success of a meeting of who’s in charge. A meeting facilitator must be chosen with certain qualities in mind.
Elaborating further is Andrew Latham from SuperMoney, who shares, “Choose the right standup meeting leader. An effective meeting ‘master’ is key to successful standup meetings. You need someone who has an in-depth understanding of the company’s products, markets, and development processes. You also want someone who is approachable, has the respect of the team and has sufficient clout in the company to exercise real influence. Great meeting leaders are hard to find, so I don’t recommend switching this role unless there is a good reason to do so.”
It’s easy for details to fall through the cracks, no matter what type of meeting is taking place. To avoid this, make sure a meeting attendee is taking notes of questions asked, relevant action items, and more.
For this, Lily Ugbaja at Mom Baby Heart recommends, “One tip for making the most of daily standup meetings is to have a sticky note handy. Daily standup meetings tend to be brief with a lot compressed into a few words, so it is easy to miss key points raised and issues discussed. Having a sticky note and pen nearby helps you to take note of the points and better ruminate on them later. This can be the subtle difference between a star performer and a laggard.”
For teams that directly work with the company’s customers, a daily standup meeting is a good chance to get everyone caught up on anything directly related to the customer.
To make this work for your team, Matthew Johnson from Userback recommends, “ We used to begin our daily standups by discussing wins, challenges, and tasks. However, this often meant that we had less time to discuss the really big issues for the day. So we now begin our standups with one simple question – ‘Is there anything customer-related to discuss?’ This helps us to be customer-centric and ensures that we prioritize the one thing that matters most for our business – our customers.”
There’s a reason why they’re called daily standup meetings — and that’s because if you want to make them work for your teams, they need to happen, well, daily.
“Make sure the meetings are held on a daily basis – This is necessary for clear communication amongst team members regarding what has been accomplished and what has not. If standup meetings are held rarely, little concerns are more likely to be neglected, pile up, and eventually become larger problems. Consistent communication is crucial to making these discussions as productive as possible,” explains Rameez Usmani from The Code Signing Store.
If you’re unsure what time of the day works best, our survey suggests the start of the workday is the most popular time for daily standup meetings.
And finally, in order to make daily standup meetings, and all other types of meetings you’re a part of, a success, you’ll need to come prepared. Whether it be with questions for a team member, feedback you’d like to share, a customer success (or failure!) story, or anything in between, have something prepared to say ahead of time.
Andre Oentoro at Milkwhale elaborates further to say, “Write down what you need to say prior to the meeting to avoid going off track when speaking. It will also help you from speaking for too long and help others from getting bored or drifting off. Knowing exactly what you need to discuss during meetings will help keep meetings timely and reduce the chances of it from dragging on for too long.”
Once you make daily standup meetings a part of your team’s daily routine, you are sure to see an improvement in how everyone works together to solve problems, find new ways to work with customers, and better understand what each team member has on their plate. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for signs of burnout while keeping them short and concise!
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