how to hold an effective stand-up meeting

How to Hold an Effective Stand-up Meeting

Many start-up companies are switching to stand-up meetings as a more casual alternative to traditional meetings. Stand-up meetings come from the agile methodology and are particularly common among agile development teams. They are, however, gaining popularity among all types of teams as a quick way to get together to share progress, remove roadblocks, and stay on track.

Are you considering having stand-up meetings but just aren’t sure how to run them? If so, then you’ve come to the right place! This guide offers some great tips for running a stand-up meeting.

What is a stand-up meeting?

A stand-up meeting is a short meeting where literally everyone stands up to report on the status of tasks and communicate the next steps. This isn’t because it’ll be fun, but because the act of standing together will create a sense of camaraderie among the team. It also puts them in a stand-by state of mind; ready for action so they can pay attention to what people are saying. Stand-up meetings should be kept as brief and to the point as possible.

Stand-ups work because they create a shared understanding of the group’s current tangible reality. The discussion begins from the onset and allows the team to discuss issues, obstacles, and any potential resolutions that may arise.

They work for distributed teams keeping everyone in sync, which is important when working across different time zones and shifts. Stand-ups should be inclusive, allowing anyone with relevant information to share it. It can be used for anything from reporting issues to maintaining motivation and keeping the team up-to-date with progress. However, the meeting should not be used to solve problems; that’s what other meetings are for.

Stand-up meetings are also known as a “daily scrum”, a “daily huddle” or a “morning roll-call”. There are two types of agile stand-up meetings – Scrum and Kanban.

What’s the difference between Kanban and Scrum?

The main difference between Kanban and Scrum is that a Scrum meeting is focused on people while Kanban is focused on tasks. During a Scrum stand-up, each member of the team will share what tasks they completed the day before and how their current tasks are going. A Scrum stand-up will usually take place around a Scrum board, which is a board that shows all tasks and who is currently completing which task. A Scrum board can be simply just a whiteboard with sticky notes on it or an online dashboard where everyone in the team has access to it.

A Kanban stand-up is a discussion on how to minimize time spent on tasks at all stages. Much like Scrum, Kanban meetings also take place around a board (the Kanban board). However, Kanban boards allow users to start work without necessarily having a plan. It’s much easier to change your workflow with a Kanban board as you can map columns to the statuses of your workflow, whereas in Scrum the status of the workflows determines which columns can be displayed.

Do stand-up meetings happen every day?

It depends on the team you work in but if you do choose to have a daily stand-up or weekly stand-up meeting, you should stick to it once it’s been put in place. If your company has people that are in-and-out of the office on a regular basis, then it probably might be unrealistic to plan a daily stand-up. If your team decides to hold a weekly stand-up, hold it at the same time on the same day each week so there’s no excuse for someone not to attend even if they’re not physically there. You can always dial them in so they feel included.

The benefits of a daily stand-up are that a team communicates face-to-face for a short period of time each day and any issues can be caught early. The downside to daily stand-ups is people can’t speak for very long and often there is no accountability because nothing is written down.

A weekly stand-up, on the other hand, gives a team more time to chat about what their plan is for the week ahead and what they achieved in the week that just passed. More accountability is created by putting things down in writing. A negative aspect of a weekly stand-up is that it’s harder to hear from everyone in the team in such a short space of time.

How long should a stand-up meeting last?

Keep it short and sweet. Stand-ups shouldn’t go for any longer than 15 minutes, and for daily stand-ups ten minutes should be enough. In order for them to be useful and effective, you need to make sure the team is getting their point across in a small amount of time. People start to lose concentration during meetings that are long and dull, so it’s important to keep stand-ups succinct and to the point. Timing the meeting is a great way to make sure it never runs over time.

What do you do when you have a chatterbox in your team?

Often meetings drag on for a long time because there are one or two people who won’t stop talking. The best way to prevent this in stand-up meetings, especially when time is precious is to make strict rules for how long a person can speak for. A good rule is to allow each team member to speak for one minute, so everyone gets a chance to speak. This might seem very short but if people keep missing out on their turn because one person is talking for the majority of the meeting, it’ll make others unhappy and it keeps it fair.

Creating a stand-up meeting agenda before the meeting is essential. Without one, it’s likely that the team won’t be able to stay on topic and won’t be able to arrive at a point where they can all summarise how the project is going.

A stand-up meeting can be structured by telling each person to provide three pieces of information to the team in order of importance:

  1. What they did yesterday.
  2. What they are going to do today.
  3. Any obstacles that need to be removed.

A stand-up meeting is meant to update your team on the day ahead, so there’ no need to go further than that.

Who should run the stand-up meeting?

The stand-up facilitator doesn’t necessarily have to be the boss or the team leader but it should be someone who is confident, ready to assert the rules, and cut people off when they speak for too long. A good stand-up facilitator is able to keep the meeting focused and able to call someone out if they come to the meeting unprepared.

What else can be done to make stand-up meetings more efficient?

There are a number of ways to make stand-ups more efficient. Here are a couple of ideas:

  • Be on time. A daily stand-up meeting might only run for ten minutes, so someone who turns up five minutes late has missed half the meeting. You may have had a teacher in school that had a punishment for late students, such as making them sing karaoke or doing push-ups at the front of the class. Think about implementing a punishment for those who are late to stand-up meetings.
  • Don’t allow phones. Or any devices for that matter. They can be a distraction and cause the pace of the meeting to slow down so ban all electronic devices from stand-up meetings. Plus a 15-minute break from computer screens is always healthy.

Make it fun

Remember, stand-up meetings only work if they happen on a regular basis and everyone comes ready to contribute to it so try and make it as enjoyable as possible. Think of innovative ways to make everyone excited for stand-up meetings. For example, you could have your stand-up at a café near your work so it’s more social and everyone is well-caffeinated. Alternatively, you could hold it just before lunchtime so everyone has something to look forward to when it’s over.

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