Calling in a quick morning huddle with your team before you get on with your day is beneficial for your team's overall synergy and extremely useful in keeping everyone updated and on the same page.
America loves to meet. Data gathered from professional and private studies proves it. On average, America conducts more than 11 million meetings in a day. This is, after a quick calculation, 55 million meetings in a month and 220 million meetings in a year.
The average salary cost of a meeting is $338. This average does not include meetings between lushly paid CEOs and other big players. When you take them into account, the cost of one single meeting rises to above $20,000. When we talk about the length of the meeting, it averages between 31 minutes to 60 minutes.
Despite the magnanimous amount of resources and time spent on meetings, on an average, nine employees find one-third of the time spent on the meeting unproductive as they find most of them inconclusive, followed by poor preparation, disorganization and lack of equal participation. All of which makes sense since 63% of those meetings are held without a pre-planned agenda. Thus, leading to a waste of time. In fact, it was discovered that ineffective meetings cost up to $70 to $283 billion to the US economy.
The question then arises is, what are we doing wrong? What different method can we adopt that would reduce this horrendous waste of time and money? Enter daily stand-up meetings. The answer is to shorten the duration of the meeting to 15 and table off-topic agenda for offline discussion.
Contrary to common belief, stand-up meetings did not originate in any posh IT building but were the brainchild of the Logistical Chief of the first Gulf war, Lieutenant General William G. Pagonis, who found the technique to be as effective with supply chain workers as with army officers.
Over the years, the daily stand-up meeting has acquired several different names, “daily scrum,” “morning roll-call,” “daily check-ins,” etc. It is a short (and sweet) meeting that lasts 15 to 20 minutes. As the name indicates, everyone stays standing for the duration of the session, generally. The aim is to get a quick and brief update on everyone’s progress, address pain points and avoid lengthy discussions.
Among all the different types of meetings, time management is one of the biggest reasons why you should include a stand-up meeting in your daily routine. Standing up instead of sitting down makes a massive difference as –
- You discuss relevant topics in a shorter period instead of digressing, a common element of sit-down meetings.
- It keeps you on your toes (literally), you can concentrate and aren’t as easily distracted as you are during regular meetings.
- A study has found that the stand-up concept has reduced the meeting duration by 34%, improving the team’s productivity by saving time for more meaningful tasks.
A daily stand-up isn’t a problem-solving meeting. You don’t go into the meeting with a plan or pointers meant for discussions. You can use these meetings to update the team on any new minor changes and how you would want them to be handled. Direct and to the point. Your main objective should be to lead a meeting effectively.
If something worthy of a more extended discussion does crop up, you can make a note of it and discuss it with relevant people after the stand-up meeting is over.
Your daily stand-ups serve as a reminder for your team to remember that collaborating and staying in sync is the core of any successful department. And its relevance increases manifold when you consider remote working.
When your team is working remotely, miles or even states away from each other, it is difficult for them to feel a sense of unity and some might feel alienated from the rest of the team. Starting your workday with a daily stand-up agenda will reinforce the importance of camaraderie and teamwork.
Tips on Creating a Daily Stand-up Meeting Agenda
The Basic Blueprint
Keep it short yet informative and concentrate on getting answers to three questions –
1. What tasks did I complete yesterday?
2. What tasks will I complete today?
3. What obstacles are hindering my progress?
This way, you cover essential topics of immediate significance with the least number of questions. As your employees answer these questions one by one, they provide their peers with three pieces of information that summarizes their progression.
Some believe that the order of these questions should be reversed to emphasize their importance correctly. Starting from the bottom, ask our team–
1. Are there any obstacles that you feel hinder your progress?
2. What are you planning to work on today?
3. What work did you finish yesterday?
You can also improvise and include more questions or modify the existing blueprint according to your team’s requirements. The structure is not as important as the information. You can find new patterns or designs that are more compatible with your team.
Often, the obstacles raised in the meeting demand time and detailed discussions before one can come up with a solution. The best way to deal with this is to construct a task board to write your team’s obstacles. It has dual benefits – your team knows you are taking their concerns seriously, and it reduces drawn-out discussion during the stand-up time.
A task board, also known as an improvement board, can either be divided into various columns determining the different stages of progression, or it can be a straightforward one with just three divisions. For example-
1. To Do – Stick your obstacles in this section of the board.
2. In Progress – Move them to this side when you are working on it.
3. Done! – Stick them here when you’ve effectively resolved them.
For remote teams, you can make these sections in a shared excel sheet, under different colors. Or, if you want a better way to handle this, you can use productivity-enhancing apps like Trello, a project management application that has “cards” that you can use for different chores and file them under the columns of “to do,” “doing” and “done.”
Deciding The Order
The easiest way to decide who talks first is to start with the person standing on the manager’s right and move clockwise. It is not a matter of great significance who goes first and who goes last unless the meeting is called to discuss a project. There are other ways you can decide the order, like –
1. Making The Person Who Comes Last Be The First to Speak - This would facilitate a more punctual attendance; however, it might also embarrass the person who may not be prepared to talk first.
2. Throw The Ball – For this one, the manager can randomly throw the ball at any person in the circle to start. Once that person is done, they can throw the ball to someone else who has to speak next. For remote workers, they can just take the name of team members at random or move alphabetically.
3. Draw a Card – Your employees pick cards with numbers on them and speak accordingly. Or you can ask the employees to choose the numbers they want instead of blindly picking cards.
Try to keep storytelling and socializing to the minimum. Encourage your employees to catch up only after the meeting is done. Once you have concluded the meeting, make sure to signal that it has ended and the rest of the discussion is officially “offline” now.
(Tip – Just because it is a meeting does not mean it cannot be fun. You can signal the start and end of a session with a phrase or a song. For example, you can end the session with a line from Kendrick Lamar’s song “Humble,” “Be humble, sit down.”)
With the world turning on its axis due to Covid-19, many of these tasks have to be modified to fit in with the new way of working. Virtual stand-ups can be challenging to work with. Your team may be in different time zones. Some may have significant network issues; it might disrupt the standard workflow, while others may not feel its benefits.
The way forward from it is to empower all your employees – introverts and extroverts. Apart from stand-ups, ask the introverts on your team to communicate their views through email and schedule more one-on-ones. Engage your extroverts through virtual activities and open communication. Make all the necessary tools and documents accessible to everyone on your team.
Slack’s Geekbot allows you to have asynchronous stand-up meetings inside Slack. It is non-disruptive as you can answer it at your convenience. It also provides side or offline discussion; that way, you can talk to your other teammates without spamming everybody.
You understand your team better than anyone, so you are the best judge to decide what kind of method suits your team the best. If a daily meeting is something that fits in with your company culture, take the wheel and drive to new heights of productivity and efficiency. If it is something you haven’t tried so far, then give it a whirl and decide for yourself if it is for you or not.
You can also invite your buddy Fireflies to all such meetings through a URL or directly inviting Fred@fireflies.ai to your meets, where our AI helping hand can take important meeting notes for you while you concentrate on the daily agenda. Fireflies will keep things organized and updated with timestamps for easy navigation. Be humble!