How to run more effective stand-up meetings

Foto ritratto della collaboratrice Sarah LaoyanSarah Laoyan
28 febbraio 2024
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If you're on a software development team, chances are you've been to a stand-up meeting. Common in Agile methodologies, stand-up meetings are a quick way for team members to share updates or check in with the rest of the team.

But stand-up meetings aren’t limited to software development teams. These meetings can be beneficial to any team that wants to quickly share updates to ensure team members are on the same page. Whether you're holding your meeting in conference rooms or have distributed team members across different time zones, learn how to easily run effective stand-up meetings.

What is a stand-up meeting?

A stand-up meeting is a short meeting commonly used by teams that run Agile or Scrum—though any team can implement this type of meeting. During stand-up meetings, team members take turns discussing three main questions:

  • What did you accomplish yesterday?

  • What will you work on today?

  • Is there anything that is blocking you from what you're working on?

Depending on the type of methodology your team uses, these stand-up meetings can take anywhere from five minutes to 15 minutes. Agile best practices state that these meetings should not take any longer than 15 minutes. The reasoning for the strict time limit is to allow everyone to get through their updates quickly without taking up too much time. 

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Benefits of stand-up meetings

Stand-up meetings help development teams remote blockers and uncover what needs to be done on a daily basis. They can also provide clear indicators for how projects are progressing. For example, if your team uses a Kanban project management tool, team members move cards on a Kanban board to indicate what stage a task is in. During the daily stand-up meeting, it's easy to see progress happening as a card moves from one stage to the next. 

While Agile methodology favors in-person meetings, you don't have to host your daily stand-up meeting in person. With video conferencing software like Zoom, remote employees can easily attend stand-up meetings virtually.

Leggi: Guida alle bacheche Kanban per principianti

6 steps to more effective stand-up meetings

There are six easy steps for running smooth stand-up meetings. No matter how often your team meets, or what project management methodology your team uses, here are a few tips to make your stand-up meetings quick and effective.

1. Find a time and keep it there

Commitment and consistency are key components of the Agile methodology. These values also apply to daily stand-up meetings. Stand-up meetings should happen at the same time everyday at the same place and should take priority over other meetings. Keeping meetings consistent make it easy for everyone to attend, and it’s important everyone is present so that the entire team is on the same page.

2. Make sure all team members participate

Stand-up meetings are only effective if the entire team attends. That means the whole team should be present for every stand-up meeting. If a team member shares their update and leaves, the meeting is not as effective because that person will not hear if they can help another teammate with what they're doing for that day. 

The goal here is to stay connected with your team, both physically and mentally. Because the Agile methodology values face-to-face conversation and communication, these daily stand-ups are an important way to connect with the rest of your team. A good practice to follow is to start the meeting all together and end the meeting together.

3. Establish a clear leader

The leader of the stand-up meeting is in charge of moderating the meeting and ensuring that stand-ups are exactly what they should be—short and sweet. This could mean anything from timeboxing status updates so they remain short, managing a round robin style meeting, or doing roll call for a video conference stand-up instead of an in-person meeting.

The person running your stand-up meeting will depend on what type of Agile methodology you’re using. If your team uses Scrum, the Scrum master leads daily scrum meetings. In other forms of project management, product managers or other project managers will facilitate the stand-up meetings.

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4. Keep it short

As mentioned previously, stand-up meetings should take no longer than 15 minutes. If your team is big, you might use all 15 minutes. If you need more than 15 minutes to get through everyone's daily status update, your team might be too big.

5. Clearly define the purpose

Every team member should know exactly what the stand-up is for, and how they should structure their team update. If you have a new team member, it's okay to allow them to just observe early on. Eventually, they'll get the hang of it and share updates with everyone else. 

Everyone should share the same three things. Anything else can become extraneous information. Your stand-up leader is in charge of moderating the conversation and moving things along if necessary.

6. Table side conversations

It's not uncommon for team members to try and get some problem solving done during the stand-up meeting. Instead, table conversations like this for after the meeting. Make a note of the issue, and then let the next person share their status update. 

After the stand-up meeting disperses, this is when those individuals who are looking to solve a problem can meet to try and dig through the problem.

Leggi: Come definire azioni da attuare ben chiare

Common pitfalls of stand-up meetings

When team members have been around for a long time, stand-up meetings can start to feel repetitive. Here are a few common mistakes that happen in stand-up meetings and how you can prevent them from feeling (and being) too repetitive. 

Meeting turns into a generic status meeting

Everyone who is in a stand-up team meeting should work closely together. If your team members status updates that aren't relevant to the work they're already doing, it becomes a generic status update meeting. This isn't an effective use of everyone’s time. 

If this happens, project managers should split the team into different huddles. The best way to do this is to separate teams by what they’re working on. Those who work together more closely should be in the same huddle. That way, all of the information being shared is relevant to everyone. 

Meetings become too long

Remember to keep stand-up meetings short. The point of them is to be quick and easy. If your meetings are running longer than 15 minutes, it’s a sign that you need to rework some things. Team facilitators should help team members focus on the three main points, and if they begin discussing something else, respectfully ask them to table it for a later conversation.

Team members don't identify roadblocks

One of the main reasons that development teams hold stand-up meetings is to identify any blockers to work. If team members aren't surfacing any issues, this issue could spread to the rest of the team. Oftentimes, one team member’s work will be dependent on another's' work. If one person doesn’t surface the issue, it can become a blocker for everybody. This is why it’s important to discuss any issues during the stand-up meetings, so the issue doesn’t become a blocker for the entire team.

Use work management for Agile teams

If you want to implement Agile on your team teams, you need the right tools to keep everything organized. Make sure you have access to a dynamic tool to organize and manage your team’s work in one place. Manage stand-up meeting agendas and more in a work management tool like Asana. 

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