Better meetings series #3: 3 tips for running productive stand-up meetings
Stand-up meetings are often seen as being the solution to end unproductive, overly long meetings. The concept is simple really: standing up is uncomfortable, so it encourages people to be concise, to the point and keeps the discussion moving.
Also called the “daily scrum” in Agile project management, stand-up meetings are short, usually 15 minute daily meetings involving the whole team. (If it wasn’t already clear, they’re also done standing up…)
But simply standing up in a meeting won’t magically fix your unproductive meetings. The first step is to understand the purpose a stand-up meeting serves, and how it’s structured. During the meeting, each member of the team speaks in turn to cover the following three points:
- What they did yesterday
- What they will be doing today
- What obstacles or problems are they facing
The final point is the most important of the three. This is because a stand-up meeting isn’t meant to be a status meeting as much as it is a mechanism for teams to identify issues and get support. The focus here is always on progress – if a team member is stuck with something, is there something that one of their colleagues can do to help?
Meetings should have a facilitator, or Scrum Master, to oversee things and keep the conversation flowing, but ultimately it’s the team that need to run the show. If you’re looking to implement stand-up meetings in your team, here are our tips on how to get the most out of them:
Don’t problem solve during the meeting
While stand-up meetings are all about problem solving, the solutions themselves should not be discussed during the meeting. Instead, the relevant team members go away and do this on their own, and provide an update the following day highlighting the resolution or a need for further intervention. If something does need to be discussed in more detail by the whole team, organise a separate meeting. Stand-up meetings must be kept short and sweet.
Use a Kanban board to visualise work
Because stand-up meetings are so frequent, they should not require much documentation (people never read emails anyway). However, sometimes things might get missed, so one of the best ways to avoid this is to use a Kanban board. This gives people clear visual cues when talking, and also quickly highlights if there are any major bottlenecks or if your team is working on too much at one go.
Whether you have a physical board or use an app, give everyone a few minutes before the meeting to move around or add their items to the board.
Create a routine that works for your team
From the time of day to what order people speak in, you need some clear rules of engagement to ensure everyone knows what’s expected of them and the meeting stays on track. This may require some trial and error, so take note of what works and what doesn’t work at the end of each meeting and adapt as necessary.
Stand-up meetings can be a great way to coordinate work, solve problems faster, increase collaboration and facilitate team-building (which also helps to increase employee engagement). By following the above tips, you can help ensure these meetings are truly valuable to your team and avoid wasting time on yet another unproductive meeting.
While stand-up meetings are generally daily team meetings, the format can also be incredibly effective in communicating across teams working on different elements of a project. Rather than creating lengthy reports that won’t get read, get key people from each team in the same room and run the meeting as you would with your team – the only difference would be to lower the frequency of meetings.