on August 5, 2021 (last modified on December 15, 2022) • 16 minute read
When was the last time you powered your work computer on in the morning, only to see that your day is completely free of meetings?
This probably happens few and far between, as you’re either an attendee or the facilitator for many types of team meetings. Because of this, it’s crucial that you can hold and be a part of meetings that are as efficient as possible.
So, whether you’re on a marketing team or a management team, here are some mistakes you’ll want to avoid when partaking in daily standup meetings.
The breakdown of the respondents we surveyed is as follows:
So we’ll be looking at advice from only two of the largest groups that contributed – marketing teams and management teams.
If you’re on a marketing team looking to hold successful and productive standup meetings, here are the things you should avoid, as recommended by experts.
One of the most popular mistakes amongst marketers in daily standup is thinking that the meeting is the time for an in-depth discussion or conversation. These meetings are for quick updates and getting right to the point, so there’s time for everyone to speak.
Explaining this further is Iris Grossman from Appointfix. Grossman shares, “We stay away from in-depth discussions on upcoming tasks and projects. We much rather encourage team members to chat and go over all their specific questions as soon as the meeting wraps up. This is particularly important for tasks that do not involve all the team members. Standup meetings should only include work-specific discussions. Personal, political, and other similar discussions will derail the meeting and waste precious time. Managers should avoid giving negative feedback at standup meetings and instead have meetings afterward with the people involved.”
Another common mistake is using the standup meeting to try to solve a problem or challenge. It’s best to bring up the issue during this time and then schedule a longer, follow-up meeting to get to the bottom of a colleague’s problem.
“One thing you shouldn’t discuss during standup meetings is the nitty-gritty of solving a problem or challenge. Standup meetings are meant to be brief and straight to the point with concise nuggets to help guide the team. Dissecting problems and offering lengthy strategies/complex technical solutions during standup meetings aren’t very effective,” explains Lily Ugbaja from Dollar Creed.
Further sharing why standup meetings are not the time to discuss roadblocks is Stephen Brent May from One Foot Over, who says, “I have worked in agile marketing environments since 2013 and have seen some great and not-so-great dailies. One of the biggest pitfalls to avoid is using the time to start problem-solving. If a client’s landing page is not performing well, let the team know you are working on it today, what roadblocks you may have, when it is ready for review, etc., but don’t explain what you are doing and think isn’t working. If you do, other teammates will inevitably start offering suggestions, and the meeting will go off the rails quickly. Stay focused on what needs to be discussed and if you need help from your team, schedule a quick brainstorm after the daily to knock it out.”
When our respondents answered our survey, this was one of the most popular responses.
If you’re a marketer who thinks the daily standup meeting is the time to go into every last detail about a topic or a project — think again. Updates need to be concise, so figure out the most need-to-know information to share and stick to that.
“The biggest problem for me is when people start getting into the details of a topic or project. That’s not what we’re here for. The goal of the standup should be to outline what everyone is working on, who they need support from, or who they are waiting on, and create actions to resolve any issues or blockages. Too often, I see two people actually start to discuss how to resolve the issue, and this just takes up everyone’s time. Standups should be focused, bullet-point style conversation, which creates a list of actions for employees to go away with,” elaborates Will Laurenso from Customers Who Click.
If you fail to do so, you’ll soon find yourself in a daily standup meeting that isn’t very useful to you or your team.
When it comes to daily standup meetings, three main questions need to be answered: what you did yesterday, what you’re planning on doing today, and is anything blocking your progress. Not providing these answers is a mistake you’ll want to avoid.
Harriet Chan from CocoFinder shares more to say, “Answering the three daily standup questions is the main objective for holding the daily scrum. The queries include what you did yesterday, what you will do today, and if anything is blocking your progress. That way, members can be on the same page regarding completed tasks and who did them. They can also get a clear understanding of their progress towards the final goal and can assist each other with solutions to the specified barriers.”
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While it’s a good idea to provide coworkers and teammates with feedback, a daily standup meeting isn’t the place for it. There typically isn’t enough time to go into feedback, and doing so should be scheduled for a separate meeting or conversation.
“I find granular feedback and workshopping of ideas to be distracting during daily standups. It’s better left to asynchronous communication or a dedicated meeting with the parties directly involved outside of the standup. If you spend too long discussing the specific minutia of a project or idea, then parties less involved will tune out and you won’t get the most value from the standup, which really has a particular purpose of aligning work to goals and removing bottlenecks if they’re present,” explains Alex Birkett from Conversion.AI.
Like all meetings, you must plan ahead so you’re prepared. Both as a meeting facilitator and a meeting attendee, it’s always a good idea to know exactly what you’re going to share with the team.
For this, Eden Cheng from PeopleFinderFree adds, “I hold a regular standup meeting throughout the task board and never forget to fulfill the work. During the process of holding the daily meeting, the process becomes significantly hassle-free for my team members. That’s why they can point at the stories and tasks on a task board. So, it helped me a lot to stay organized and focused. This is how I am capable of preventing those unnecessary and unrelated talks. I am doing this during a daily standup as it needs preparation, experimentation, and encouragement for me. Such types of meetings have increased in frequency and length over the past 50 years, where the executives like me spend a maximum of 23 hours a week in DSM.”
One thing you absolutely need to make time for in a daily standup meeting is talking about upcoming deadlines or goals. How close is your team to hitting them? Do they need to be altered or changed in any way? Be sure asking this is on the meeting agenda.
Chris Wilks at BrandExtract adds more on this point to share, “Hot items. A standup is the perfect place for your team to discuss any rapidly approaching deadlines so that you can swiftly allocate resources or rearrange priorities to ensure you’re meeting any critical deadlines. Discussing deadlines and goals is crucial and should not be forgotten.”
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Elaborating further on why discussing goals is so important is Nicole Kahansky at Hypercontext. “Reviewing the day’s goals is an essential part of every standup meeting. This helps the whole team align on what needs to get done that day and sheds light on any roadblocks in the way. Not only does it get everyone on the same page as a team, but it also allows you to get hyper-focused on what needs to get done each day! Starting the day off reviewing your goals is helpful for the productivity and motivation of the team both as a whole and individually,” shares Kahansky.
No matter if your meetings are in person or in writing, like through email, planning ahead is an absolute must.
Daily standup meetings are essential for management teams to hold, too. If you’re on the management side of an organization, you must understand the mistakes you don’t want to commit in a daily standup.
Interested in learning more about how to avoid a specific mistake? Jump to:
We all have that one colleague who doesn’t know when their time to talk has run out. In a daily standup meeting, each individual mustn’t hog the spotlight and make the meeting all about them. Everyone needs a chance to speak, so updates should be short and to the point.
“As an entrepreneur and owner of multiple companies across the US for two decades, I have witnessed first-hand how beneficial standup meetings are. Their purpose is to prevent participants from talking too long and wasting people’s time. This way, employees can acquire key information and get back to their tasks ASAP. This notion relates to what shouldn’t be discussed during standup meetings: anything that could potentially make the meetings last longer than fifteen minutes or so.
Sure, this is a generalization, but it’s up to each meeting participant to only ask the most important questions and not bring up points that won’t assist the other participants. In fact, people should only ask questions in which the answers impact every participant in the meeting. The employees should reserve their role-specific inquiries for communication that can take place once a meeting concludes,” shares James Walsh at JamesWalshOfficial.com.
Unsure how to keep attendees from talking too much? Ensure they only stick to what’s essential and not go into too many details of what they’re working on.
Elaborating on this point is Jarret Austin from Bankruptcy Canada, who adds, “Standup meetings are about giving coworkers the run-down on main points and overall big-picture items rather than going into excessive detail. Avoid rambling on or giving in-depth explanations, feedback, or descriptions about your current projects or updates; instead, stick to cliff-notes and bullet points that give fellow employees a general idea of where you’re at and what you’re working on. There’s a reason why standup meetings are conducted standing up; it’s because they’re meant to be quick and to the point, which means your message should be communicated simply and clearly, as well.
While the subject of the meetings may change – some standup gatherings may be about work updates, while others may be about discussing problems and challenges – the same rule remains, and you should always share a condensed version of whatever your thoughts are rather than providing the full version. Save the details for a longer meeting that’s meant for a more in-depth discussion.”
Another mistake management should avoid when conducting a daily standup meeting is making them last too long. These types of meetings should be only 10-15 minutes long, making them as brief and actionable as possible.
To make this work, Tyler Hutchinson at Energy Powder World recommends, “I believe that standup key points should be brief and actionable. We don’t need to hear about what you plan to have for lunch or why you left work early yesterday, we want to know what it is that you are going to get done today and any blockers or issues that might be obstacles in getting those particular items crossed off your list. By keeping things simple and actionable it’s really easy to keep people accountable. For example, ‘yesterday morning you mentioned that you were going to finish the Q2 report. Did you completely get it done?’ Simple and measurable.” Track the average length of your stand up meetings using these employee time tracking dashboards, and figure out ways to shorten them if they’re unnecessarily long.
You’ll also want to make sure that participants discuss only what’s most relevant to the team. Anything unrelated can be saved for another time.
“Discussing unrelated or unproductive topics is the most common mistake in a standup meeting. You do not get to focus on the main issues, and you end up wasting your time trying to motivate your team. Instead, you can have a meeting leader who addresses the meeting while giving everyone an equal opportunity to participate. You can assign roles to everyone in a standup meeting. However, the meeting leader must be assigned to keep it smooth and focused,” explains Olivia Tan from CocoFax.
Emily Perez at Kitchen Infinity recommends three main points to stay on topic. Perez elaborates to say, “While standup meetings are a great way for managers and employees to discuss vital issues concerning business, there are a few topics that should be out of bounds while these meetings are going on.
There’s more to say in a daily standup meeting than just a status report, so even though you want to keep it concise and relevant, you also don’t want to stick to only status updates.
Alina Clark from CocoDoc explains this further by saying, “Daily standup meetings are fantastic for businesses that want to maintain agility, and focus on the company vision. They’ve been a major part of our management processes, even when we went remote during the pandemic. Turning standup meetings into status reports is by far the most common mistake. The goal of the meeting is to keep the team focused, not to tell how far the team is with the task. If anything, this mistake creates the notion that you want to micromanage the team, which reduces the team’s engagement.
Even though status reports may be part of the meeting agendas, they shouldn’t be the sole reason for the meetings. If present, the status reports shouldn’t be done in too much detail since you’ll end up spending too much time in the meeting. Our standup meetings are quite effective, and short because the colleagues have come to acknowledge the fact that we don’t need detailed reports during the standup.”
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Finally, in daily standup meetings with management teams, you must make time to talk about all relevant projects on the to-do list. If a deadline or milestone is fast approaching, make sure it’s brought up at some point throughout the meeting.
“A daily standup with your team should review the day ahead, including delegation, progress updates, and any follow-ups from the previous days. Daily standups should be used to keep projects on time, which means whoever is facilitating those standups is responsible for how effective they are. You need to understand what needs to happen, day-to-day, in order to complete projects or achieve goals on time and on budget. Not only does this keep you on top of where projects are up to, everyone on your team has some level of understanding of the progress being made and what everyone should be doing to maintain accountability as well,” explains Jarrod Adnum at Hunter Bathroom Renovations.
Now that you know the key mistakes to avoid when running a daily standup meeting, you can be sure that every time you meet, whether it’s with an in-person or remote team, it’ll be successful, productive, and the conversations will stay on track.
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