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How Does Daily Stand-Ups Increase Productivity

Kate William

10 min read

With most companies following agile methodology and scrum meetings being loved by all, these meetings have become common. A scrum meeting doesn’t drag on for hours, there is a clear agenda to it, and it gets over within five or ten minutes. With stand-up meetings, the objective is for everyone to be on the same page. If there is any issue with the way the project is running, you can get all of that discussed immediately. 

Conducting an effective meeting that meets objectives and does not infringe on employee’s productivity is a difficult task. In fact, these meetings are usually done standing so that there is as little time wasted on it. Scrum meetings do not take up a lot of your time, and more importantly, it guzzles little energy from the team members. If conducted effectively, scrum meetings can be extremely productive, and the team members will be apprised of the progress of the project. 

What is daily stand-up?

Also called as scrum meetings, these are small meetings conducted by agile teams. Each of the team members are usually standing and they have to answer three questions.

  • What did you do in the project yesterday?
  • What is your plan for the day?
  • Are you expecting any obstacles today that will stop you from meeting your goals?

The objective of a stand-up meeting is to increase the efficiency of the project at hand. It doesn’t take up more than 15 minutes, usually. 

People who are experienced with handling scrum meetings will know for sure when there is any issue with the project based on the updates received. People who are not adept at handling meetings will find the entire exercise as a waste of their time. But if done rightly, daily stand-up meetings can do a world of good for your business. 

To ensure that stand-up meetings go like clockwork and provide optimal results, businesses need to follow a bunch of best practices. 

How does a normal stand-up work?

Traditional stand-up meetings are usually free flowy and have a hierarchical structure. In this setup, information is usually passed from the manager to the employees. Kanban teams have a no-hierarchy style where there is more freedom to each of the team members. The sharing of information is much more transparent in this case, and everyone is kept updated about the progress of the project. 

20 tips on how you can increase the efficiency of your daily stand-ups

1. Have shared objectives

Getting to a meeting where no one knows the agenda is a way to go to Disasterville. Before the meeting starts, share with your team members about its agenda. Give them time to prepare for the meeting. The problem with keeping spontaneous meetings is that it might lead to a lot of confusion and people will either over-share or under-share, resulting in a frivolous waste of time. 

We mentioned the three questions that will be asked in a stand-up meeting. Ensure that the people who are going to be a part of the meeting are already prepared with an answer so that no one’s time is wasted. 

If someone wants to talk about what they are working on at the moment, then they could explain that in the form of milestones so that the next conversation surrounding it will be easier to understand for the others. In that way, everyone else in the team will also know what to expect. 

Make sure that each project is broken down into smaller steps so that no one gets overwhelmed. In fact, doing this becomes a part of your task management as that is the design of daily stand-up meetings. 

2. Keep a schedule

When a meeting doesn’t start on time, the ones who are already there end up wasting a lot of time waiting for the others. After a point, it can get frustrating for the participants because they realize that a 15-minute meeting is getting dragged on every day because a few of them don’t respect other’s time. 

Be extremely strict about the fact that stand-up meetings should start every day at the same time. Otherwise, the entire exercise will only be a pain. Meetings that start late is one of the biggest complaints that most employees have. 

3. Use it to solve process issues

Since you get on a stand-up call every day, you can also use it to build habits that will help your firm to be more productive. So if you find some problem with any of your processes, ensure that the scrum meetings are used for solving them too. Find out how many tasks are being accomplished on a day-to-day basis. How are each of the team members performing when compared against each other? Can they be given support from the others who do not have a lot to worry about. 

You can also use an online survey software like SurveySparrow to create online surveys, polls and employee surveys. Here’s a daily stand up template created using SurveySparrow.

You can create a similar daily stand up survey or a poll by signing up for free on SurveySparrow.

4. Visual scrum board for stand-up meetings

If you are looking to get things right during the scrum meetings, here is one more thing that you can do, which will increase productivity by miles. Many team members will feel comfortable to see things visually rather than just using phone calls to be updated about the progress. One of the best tools that you can use to get a visual representation of your scrum board is to either Trello or Monday.com. These apps will help keep everyone engaged as the iteration boards are visible for everyone to see. For daily updates, it is one of the best options available. 

It’ll be great if people can follow this rule- before the stand-up meeting starts, people can update the progress on the board instead of having to say them orally alone. This way, the whole process becomes much more efficient, and there is a record of everything for everyone to see. It also helps during the meeting because people don’t have to worry about missing something important that has been said because they can verify it. 

5. Be straight about obstacles

To make the best use of a stand-up meeting, the project manager or whoever is heading the meetings should ensure that the obstacles are discussed. Many employees are afraid of making a mistake, so they end up trying to hide the gravity of the situation. This will only create more problems. 

Create an environment where people are encouraged to talk about the obstacles without any repercussions. It will lead to an open environment. Otherwise, people will be afraid of sharing their mind, and there will be a lack of communication which drops everyone’s productivity. 

6. Take the issues offline

Remember this, the daily meeting is for people to sync and know about what’s going on and talk about any problems which are there. Do not use the stand-up meetings to discuss the problem in detail. Keep it short and simple. Do not present in such a manner that others lose their attention or interest. If there is a problem or an obstacle that is mentioned, acknowledge it and discuss the issue separately with the person-in-charge instead of involving everyone else who isn’t a part of the project. 

Let’s say that there are a few disparate teams which gather to talk about one particular project, after the call ends, the main manager aka the captain has to decide how to take the issue forward after the end of the call. To increase productivity and efficiency, find relevant solutions immediately after the call. Ensure that only the ones concerned with the project are present there. 

7. Focus on the most critical aspect

One more thing that businesses need to do is to concentrate only on the things that are absolutely essential. You can always skip certain things. Find ways to identify blockages that might occur during the course of the project. Do not indulge in small talk either. Have in-depth discussions on critical tasks, but even that too only after the end of the stand-up meeting, only with the people who are responsible for it. 

8. Address mediocre work

Believe it or not, there are instances where there are employees who put up shoddy work regularly. As a business that is responsible for its clients, it is a must that you indulge with your employees only when there is an issue in quality or delivery. Working in an agile atmosphere ensures that there is more life to the company than when seen from outside. 

9. Create a positive environment

Since stand-up meetings are a daily affair, imagine your employees getting into the call with dread in their hearts. That’s sad. Ensure that there is a lot of positive talk during the stand-up calls. No matter how well the project is running, some people might be going through personal things in their home. It is imperative that you keep that in mind as well and start the day with positivity. Say and use words that will increase the energy in the room. Make people feel valued. If someone contributes something that adds value to the project or the team, appreciate them with all your heart. Make the employee feel as if the stand-up meetings are a place where they can expect support. 

10. Use small teams

When you have a lot of people in stand-up meetings, it will only add to the chaos. So let’s say yours is a company that has a huge marketing team. Instead of one big marketing stand-up, divide them into different stand-up meetings based on separate roles, like a separate team for SEO, content, paid ads, etc. You get the drift, right? To ensure that the whole marketing team is in the know, you can have one master scrum team meeting later with one person representing each team.

11. Be flexible

Let’s say your office starts at 10 AM, in this case; it would be easier to keep the stand-up time as 10:30 AM every day. But since everyone is working from home right now because of the pandemic situation, it is best to change it to a time which everyone agrees with. You need to put yourself inside the shoes of your employees to understand what motivates them. 

Also, many of the strategies that we tell here in this article doesn’t have to be mandatorily followed. Do what works best for your business. 

12. Respect everyone’s time

Virtual meetings aren’t easy to handle, everybody knows that. The real test is in ensuring that no one’s time gets wasted. Make sure that only the speaker’s sound is on while the rest can mute themselves. That way, no one has to be reminded to stay silent. There will be easier communication with everyone. We do understand that stand-up meetings are supposed to be democratic, but for a smooth conversation, it is imperative that this rule is imposed. 

13. Make people say something about their job too

There are times when team members have contributed something that has got nothing to do with the sprint goal. In such a case, it would be wise to let them talk about their work. Maybe they were assigned a small goal that made them work on something different. If you think that some of the employees are engaged a lot in non-sprint work, this can also be used so that other works can be reduced for this person. 

14. Keep a sheet with the sprint backlog but don’t get bogged down with it

It is important that you have a scrum backlog kept meticulously ready. More often than not, you will find that there are backlogs that are piling up but do not let it be your focus alone. Ensure that its progress is tracked and find out ways to finish the backlogs without much ado. Being besotted with the numbers, in this case, is only going to put excessive pressure on every team member. 

15. Keep experimenting

Your sole focus should be on keeping the scrum meeting as productive as possible without taking up everyone’s’ time. If that means not sticking to what is usually followed, then so be it. Find out a style that works perfectly well for you; do not use a strategy just because it worked for your closest competitor. Mix up different things to find something that is alignment with what you stand for and what everyone in your team is comfortable with. 

16. Have a new speaker every day

If you are going to have the same speaker every day, then there will come a time when everyone tunes out the speaker mentally because they are used to it. So here’s what you can do. Keep changing the speaker every day. It can start with one employee after the other, but even that no one else should know just to keep the excitement alive. 

17. Play background music

Here is one more thing that you can do to spice up the atmosphere- add music to the background. Music can lighten the mood for everyone as well. You can either have a specific song that plays weekly or people can pick their own songs based on their interests. Elicit a pavlovian reaction by using the same song for all your scrum meetings. The choices are endless. Music is vast. How about peppy motivational music in the background?

18. Use a special word when the meeting veers off track

One of the most pivotal aspects of stand-up meetings is its time-limit. If it isn’t something you are careful about, then you will end up wasting time by talking about things that can be discussed separately. It is best to see who is involved and let them speak instead of letting everyone pitch on a particular topic. The other people who are concerned about the particular topic can discuss it later. So if you find the meeting has veered off course, you can use a special word which can take the discussion back to where it was supposed to be. For example, Titanic could be the word that you use. It can be anything.

19. Follow up religiously

Ensure that someone takes notes during the meeting. If there are issues that need to be discussed later, it should be someone’s responsibility that they note it all down for others to follow. Ensure that each of the action items that have been ticked off like that be solved before the next day’s meeting or at least find a resolution for it, so no work gets affected. 

20. Have fun

Do not let the stand-up meetings be conducted in such a way where everyone hates being a part of it. Every single day when the meetings happen, ensure that you inject some sense of fun into it. In the first minute of the meeting where you exchange pleasantries and make small talk, try to add some element of fun. Maybe you could start by watching a funny video, share a joke, GIF, meme- anything. 

Wrapping it up.. 

When run effectively, stand-up meetings are a terrific value-addition to your company. It will help you accomplish business goals consistently, and it is a process that you would be glad to have followed in the first place. It is also a great way to build a team culture that will last for a long time. Since stand-up meetings are a daily affair, the onus is on you to make it as engaging and fruitful as possible. 

Ensure that the stand-up meetings do not take up more than 15 minutes. It shouldn’t eat into the time that people take to get actual work done. Make it exciting, engaging and short; you will see the results from it real soon. 

Kate William

Content Marketer at SurveySparrow

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