Daily standup meetings are no longer just for software developers. Agile software development processes are proving successful in companies that fully adopt them across all departments. That means many professionals, from marketers to customer relations specialists, find themselves reporting their progress to their teams each day.
What is a Daily Standup Meeting?
A crucial component of the Agile process, a daily standup meeting is a huddle that lasts 15-minutes or less. Called “scrum” by software developers, this hyper-structured gathering has a very specific purpose.
Each member of the meeting (scrum, standup, etc.) lets their team know what they plan to accomplish that day. They also provide an update on what they accomplished the day before and notify the team of any obstacles they encountered that would prevent them from achieving the tasks they committed to in their sprint. (For Agile newbies, a “sprint” is a time-boxed cycle in which team members commit to and complete a series of tasks.)
9 Ways to Add Purpose to Daily Standup Meetings
As beneficial as they care, daily standup meetings can easily succumb to the pitfalls of a recurring meeting. Here are ten ways to organize a regular standup meeting that engages your team members and keeps everyone aligned.
Ensure Team Members Understand the Structure of Daily Standup Meetings
You can’t expect your team to embrace something new if they’re not confident in what they’re doing, how they should be doing it, and, most importantly, why they’re doing it. If the daily standup meeting is a new concept to your team, hold an introductory meeting, and provide them with documentation that will enable them to pick up on the process beyond the meeting.
Consider conducting a mock standup meeting so each team member can get a feel for how the way they work can fit into this style of reporting. Finally, implement this training into your onboarding program for new hires.
Reserve a Dedicated, Distraction-Free Meeting Space
A daily standup meeting is just that - daily. Held at the same time each day, this meeting should occur at the same spot. That way, team members always know where they gather, so that they can arrive on time.
Appoint Someone to Maintain the Flow of the Meeting
A “scrum master” (A.K.A. daily standup organizer) is a team member whose job is to keep daily standup meetings efficient and on track. They keep the updates coming and ensure that the projects team members report on are progressing by addressing obstacles. They also keep project owners aware of the team’s progress.
A scrum master does not have to be a manager. Any team member can serve as a scrum master, so this could provide someone who’s not on the leadership team with an opportunity to shine.
Add a Visual Component to Your Meeting
Allowing your team to see the progress of their projects on a “kanban board” is helpful to daily standup meetings. Whether you use a digital project management tool like Trello or Basecamp or you opt for a good, old-fashioned board with Post-its is up to you.
Create a backlog category for projects in the queue, as well as categories for each phase a project goes through. For example, your marketing team would likely have categories for Project Management, Content, Design, Development, and QA.
Empower Team Members to Hold One Another Accountable
A daily standup requires a team to govern itself. While a scrum master is expected to keep things in line, team members are asked to speak up and make sure their fellow teammates are completing the tasks they committed to.
When someone is falling behind or facing an obstacle, team members are encouraged to help them with what they need to move forward. It’s not about calling someone out. Daily standups are about coming together as a team for the good of one another and the good of the work you do as a unit.
Set a “No Screens” Rule for Your Standup Meetings
Between incoming emails and ever-updated social media feeds, the nagging feeling to check one’s phone rarely goes away. The daily standup meeting calls for everyone to be present and attentive because if team members have their heads elsewhere they could miss important updates relevant to their work.
Instead of policing screens during the meeting, ask team members to leave phones and laptops at their desks during the five to fifteen minutes when you meet.
Reserve Side Conversations for Later
Just like electronic devices, side conversations can cause distractions and derail your daily standup meeting very quickly. The point of this meeting is to allow everyone to answer the following questions:
- What did you accomplish yesterday?
- What do you plan to accomplish today?
- Are there any obstacles that are preventing you from completing your work?
Any dialogue beyond the answers to these questions should wait until everyone has given their updates.
Ask Team Members How to Improve Your Meetings
Just like any new process, daily standups offer opportunities to improve based on your team and the way you work. For example, if team members occasionally find themselves in other meetings during your standup meeting, you may want to allow them to send in their updates electronically as needed.
Ask your team what they would do to make your daily standup meetings more accessible and productive. Try out their ideas and implement them if they prove to be successful. Not only could you create a streamlined process tailored to your team, but your team will also be more engaged during standup meetings when they have a part in how they evolve.
Celebrates Successes Both Big and Small
When a closing sprint marks the completion of a big project, reserve time after scrum to acknowledge a job well done. Recognize the individual contributions that set the project apart as well as the team dynamic that brought it all together in a big way. Whether you take the team out or dole out gift cards they’ll love, recognizing your people and their efforts will ensure that daily standup meetings are met with their very best.