Why you should have stand up meetings

Meetings. Everyone hates them but they’re a necessary part of doing business. The idea of spending time in a boardroom waiting for someone to make a point or have their time wasted listening to someone talk about a topic unrelated to their work is mind numbing. The problem is, however, that meetings are effective at communicating with everyone involved in the project. So how to get around it? Try using a standup meeting every morning in order to bring people together without wasting their time on topics that don’t apply to them.

What Is A Standup Meeting

It’s apparent from the description that a standup meeting is a meeting that’s held standing up. Some places call it the daily scrum in reference to the huddle formed at the beginning of a rugby play. Essentially everyone gets together to stand in a group and discuss the latest news on projects, progress, concerns, and anything else that’s related to the topic at hand. Meetings last 15 to 20 minutes in order to keep everyone’s attention and prevent fatigue that comes from standing too long. What a standup meeting doesn’t do is take place of longer meetings where everyone gets around a table to brainstorm and find solutions to problems. It’s not enough to rely on team participation software to get a job done as users aren’t incentivized to meet face-to-face when software takes care of all their communication needs. Software depersonalizes the process and makes everyone feel like a cog in the wheel as opposed to a team member doing important work.

Who’s Supposed to Show Up?

Everyone who’s involved in the project needs to show up unless they’re not in the office that day. Participation is key to the success of the meeting and the project so it’s important for all players to show up. The product owner should also show up to the meeting as he has an obvious interest in learning about the progress of his product. The logic behind everyone showing up is to ensure that important information is disseminated among team members and everyone knows where they’re at in the project.

Who Does What at a Standup Meeting?

Typically a project leader or manager calls the meeting together in order to bring everyone together and opens the floor to discussion. From there the participants can talk about what they did yesterday, where their work stands, problems they’re experiencing, and anything that’s related to the project in general. It’s an open meeting forum that is informal but informational.

What are Some of the Questions Asked?

As the standup meeting is partly status oriented, the same questions should get asked on a daily basis.

They include:

  • What did you work on yesterday?
  • What work are you going to do today?
  • Are there any potential problems that can slow down or stop your work from being done?

These kinds of questions set up expectations for everyone. When someone says that they’ll be done with a portion of the work by a certain time, everyone else can plan for the completion of the work by that time. Certainly this can get done through bulletin board software, but there’s more accountability to the rest of the team when the statement is made to their faces. Alternatively, people can talk about hangups that are going to slow their work down and what everyone else in the group can expect from that issue.

What Gets Talked About in a Standup Meeting?

It depends on the topic of the standup meeting. Some prefer to use the time as a check-in and for goal setting. Others use the meeting to assign work, locate hiccups in the progress, or let everyone on the project converse with one another due to limited interaction the rest of the time. It’s an opportunity for people to air thoughts they’re having about the project so others can give their input if it’s relevant. For example: someone who was coding on a project ran into a bug that wasn’t resolving despite their best efforts. Another participant listening in may know exactly what went wrong and where, and offer a solution. Those two participants can get together after the meeting to discuss solutions to the problem, something that doesn’t happen as easily in the atmosphere of a formal meeting.

What Doesn’t Get Done at a Standup Meeting?

Deep, in-depth discussions about the project are avoided in the meeting due to its informal nature and the lack of time. Everyone at the standup meeting gets their status report in, talks about what they expect to work on that day, and if there are issues that might stand in the way. These topics get addressed in a matter of minutes and allows everyone to get back to their desk in a reasonable amount of time to start their work day.

Why You Should Have a Standup Meeting

Employees have a tendency to go to their desks and put their heads down for most of the working day. As a result, no one gets together with the rest of their group for any meaningful conversation about their project, others are left in the dark as to what their co-workers are doing, and no one really knows what’s going to get done and when. While it’s sensible for employees to stay at their desks and work, it doesn’t help the collective as a whole. The standup meeting gets all of these status reports on a daily basis rather than getting everyone out for a weekly meeting that eats into the working day.

People Put Their Heads Together

People are far more likely to collaborate with one another when they provided with the opportunity to meet face-to-face. There’s simply more accountability felt on a psychological level when speaking to someone’s face as opposed to messages on a screen. Messaging creates a remove between two people and doesn’t create the same sense of urgency or responsibility for either party. Meeting in person allows someone to the nuances of the spoken word to emphasize their needs to the other party.

Problems Get Resolved

Any number of problems come up during a project. They include mechanical, electronic, learning curves, lack of response, and even getting pulled off the project for another one on a temporary basis. The standup meeting is the place where people can air problems such as these and brings them to the attention of the senior person on the project. A senior team member or manager has the power to get problems resolved, and are far more likely to be effective when they know where the problems are. It also benefits everyone involved in that they know if they have to step up to cover someone’s absence, can offer help to get past a learning issue, or know when they can expect replacement equipment.

Projects Get Completed on Time

Standup meetings air problems that would otherwise slow down the project or completely derail it. There’s no more of the “I didn’t know” or “Someone told me about this, but I couldn’t do anything about it” comments that inevitably get made when something goes wrong. People feel more like they’re part of a team and have accountability to everyone else when they’ve had a daily conversation, and are far more incentivized to do their work right.

Morale Goes Up

There’s nothing worse than feeling like a cog in a wheel and no one’s paying attention to the work that cog does. The standup meeting changes all that by giving everyone an opportunity to get their voice heard, even if only for a minute or two. People feel more involved when they know where they stand in a project and what’s expected of them. In turn, they feel motivated to do their work right and get it in on time so everyone else can benefit from their efforts.

Everyone Knows Where They Stand

It’s good to know where efforts are heading to when there’s been a meeting and a report is given. No one is waiting for a file or an aspect of the project to get finished and having to kill time. They know when team members will have their work completed, allowing them to pace themselves accordingly. There’s no need to hover around the desk of a member who’s yet to complete their work.

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