Developer teams are no strangers to daily standup meetings. Their success in increasing collaboration and visibility has led to their adoption in different types of teams and projects. Every day the whole team has a standup agenda meeting where developers and other team members proactively align with the project and delivery goals, share progress with the team, and be on top of blockers.
There are, however, developers who despise standup meetings because they are hyper-vigilant about even the most subtle indicators of unproductivity. They dislike regular standup meetings because they see no advantage to their work. Instead, they think that the daily meeting has little use to their skills and productivity, and they choose to work on projects rather than attend meetings.
However, when run effectively, daily standups can be a huge factor in making significant progress in projects and eliminating blockers quickly. This is certainly a more proactive approach to leading dev teams rather than waiting for things to happen and then realizing things are going bad and having to fix them with no time in hand. Whether you are a scrum master or an engineering manager, or a developer, we have created a guide on how to run a short and effective standup and things to avoid while running standups in great detail in this blog. Keep on reading!
What Occurs at a Standup Meeting Every Day?
A daily standup meeting mostly lasts about 15 minutes and is often held at the beginning of the working day. Daily scrum meetings are attended by the development team, the scrum master, and the development manager in most cases. The participants vary for different teams and organizations depending on the structure of teams and how they define roles within the organization. Many teams may also not follow scrum and hence will have no scrum masters. Essentially all stakeholders involved in the day-to-day activities of a project must be present in the standup to make it effective. This also enables everyone to have clear action items after the standup. Each team member responds to the following three questions at the daily scrum:
1. What Did You Do Yesterday?
This is nothing but providing an update on what progress you made yesterday on the tasks assigned to you. You shouldn’t go in too deep and too technical while providing this update. Given this is a place where most of your team will be present, it should be looked at as an opportunity to increase visibility within the team and, at the same time, help managers and other stakeholders understand the progress on different tasks.
2. What Will You Do Today?
By answering this question, you are essentially laying out your plan for the day. Firstly, and importantly it brings clarity to you because when you are answering this question, you are putting in the effort to think about what should be done today. Secondly, it also makes the managers and other stakeholders understand what progress to expect in all the tasks today and helps them re-prioritize tasks if needed.
3. What Is Blocking Your Progress?
Answering this will help to identify what will block the task that you are working on from going to completion or progress today. Eliminating these blockers is essential to help manage feature deliveries and to keep them on track. This helps stakeholders to gauge whether things are going on as planned and what needs to be done if they are not going on as planned. Any sort of simple realignment that needs to be done can be done here.
When and Where Should You Run Daily Scrum Meetings?
For teams that are working out of the same office, it is better to have standups at the same place and time every day. Ideally, it should take place in the morning so that everyone can start their days with this. But this gets tricky with remote teams post-pandemic and for teams with members from different time zones. In these cases, you may be tempted by the idea of having asynchronous standups. But we think it shouldn’t be done even though the benefits of doing so :). For the simple reason that standups give a great opportunity to increase visibility within the team and help to keep everyone in the loop. You involve everyone in decision-making by doing standups and fostering a collaborative environment within the team. Efforts should be made to work out a convenient time for everyone on the team for a standup meeting, and it should be done virtually through zoom/meet if needed.
Seven Tips for Making the Most of Your Daily Standup Meetings
1. Start With Clearing Out What a Standup Meeting Is and Is Not
The standup’s primary goal is to improve visibility and project flow through faster feedback. Every 24 hours, feedback boosts project velocity and allows the team to make immediate modifications to keep the project running smoothly. On the other hand, it is too late if you wait a week to get the inputs you needed seven days ago. It is supposed to be short and not meant to run more than 15-20 mins. Any longer discussion can be done with subsequent meetings with a limited set of people who are needed for the discussion.
2. Stick to the Start Time
Meetings should start at the scheduled time every day, and the schedule should be strictly followed even if some team members are late. That team member could also be you as a manager. It just doesn’t make sense to have the whole team waiting on a single member, and all the more reason for you to be punctual in these meetings. Additionally, accommodate team members for whom the standup time is inconvenient and who are not able to attend standup meetings regularly due to this.
3. Prepare Your Questions To Ask During the Meeting
As a manager or a scrum master, you should decide beforehand what questions you need to get answered in the standup in addition to the standup agenda. Additionally, throughout the meeting, also try to figure out blockers and how to resolve them.
Furthermore, meetings post the standup is better for in-depth technical conversations. You should intervene when the discussion goes on for long and facilitate meetings post the standup for these critical discussions.
4. Keep the Meeting Interesting
Since it’s crucial to keep meetings brief and to the point, it’s crucial for the success of the meeting that every participant participates fully and sincerely throughout. Each meeting should begin by making everyone at the meeting relaxed and included. You might employ a set of rules to choose who would speak next. This would ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to speak while still having a good time.
5. Prioritize Workload
Everyone aspires to do well. But the workload from competing initiatives frequently overwhelms team members. Daily meetings help make sure priorities are clear and accurate. A team member may be working on the incorrect thing, and important tasks may be unduly delayed if they are overburdened. Make sure team members’ priorities are clear, accurate, and manageable at the daily scrum meeting.
6. Prioritize Unresolved Issues
The daily scrum meeting is primarily intended to inform team members about what is being done, what needs to be done, and what obstacles prevent those tasks from being completed. Anything else has to be taken care of apart from this. Define a “parking lot” and list the problems that need to be resolved afterward. Set up a follow-up meeting with just the attendees who have a direct stake in that topic after the initial one has ended. You might keep track of the subjects that should be covered by each sub-division and require a longer discussion. The team members should have access to these “parking lots” outside the daily standup sessions so they may list the issues that need to be resolved. This keeps them present and prevents them from thinking about unrelated things during their regular standup sessions.
4. Keep the Meeting Interesting
This will act as a day starter for most team members. Nothing kills the enthusiasm of team members more than a dull and boring standup meeting. Your job as a manager or scrum master is to also make sure that everyone feels motivated to complete the tasks assigned to them quickly and to collaborate with team members in the meeting. This is one of the things that, if done right, can create a close-knit and cohesive team.
Three Things To Avoid in Daily Standup
Some individuals may feel that standup meetings are a waste of time; however, holding effective standup meetings among teams instills team spirit, enhances productivity, and allows you to discuss challenges you’re encountering in order to achieve your goals. If you go further, you’ll find that this is typically a result of teams needing to use stand-up meetings effectively, which should be a systematic and quick approach to get a solid feel of what’s happening with the team, coordinate work, and eliminate any obstacles.
Numerous factors can cause standup meetings to derail and be badly handled. Still, over the years, we’ve discovered that most of these “bad habits” can be reduced to one of the crucial standup mistakes listed below.
Discussing for long periods about topics that are in no way connected to the work of others. Or maybe something that concerns one colleague in a group of six people. As a result, other team members need more time to listen to unimportant information instead of concentrating on important tasks that can be time-sensitive. Additionally, if you listen to a coworker discuss something for long, for which you are not required to be there, in this case, you risk cognitively disengaging for the remainder of the standup and missing crucial information.
2. Inconvenient Meeting Time
For instance, the daily scrum might be scheduled when you’re coding or making progress on a difficult task, which would be disruptive or unpleasant. Coordinating schedules and accounting for calendar conflicts and time zone variances is challenging. Getting the complete crew to arrive at a standup simultaneously should be prioritized at all costs.
3. Too Lengthy
People could have side chats or water cooler banter (instead of work-focused updates). Someone may begin to ramble and take five minutes to finish their thought (it’s rather usual for people to offer too much information and support their actions with unnecessary details to sound more impressive).
Thanks to the daily standup meeting, your team and you will benefit from having common knowledge of your goals. You can ensure that your team is productive by holding this meeting to ensure everyone is working toward the same objective. Daily scrum meetings are an efficient approach to ensure that everyone on your team is committed. You will have the opportunity to point out issues and suggestions at the meeting.
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