Domagoj Furjan Kralj
Stand-up Meetings - Are They Worth It?
The general idea of a stand-up meeting is to quickly, in 15 to 30 min, plan the next 24 hours, update your team on your progress and ask for assistance with possible issues. In the correct context, daily stand-up meetings can be an incredibly useful tool, but they are not the best option for every team, so it does not make sense to force them. If you are not fully sure whether they are a good fit for your team, this blog post will lay out some of their positives, as well as common issues people find with stand-up meetings, and tips to address them.
Why should you consider implementing them?
The main benefits of stand-ups is that they allow you to have your team plan their workload in a short meeting. They facilitate a certain level of transparency within the team, so everyone can be clear on how the workload is divided and who will be doing what. Since these are generally planned in the mornings, it gives you the platform to discuss with your team what tasks require priority and which are not so urgent at the moment. This allows your team members to plan their days accordingly, which improves the overall time management of each team member. They are great for smaller teams, as then you are sure that the meetings do not take too long and start feeling like a waste of time.
Finally, they are a great tool during the pandemic and the shift to teleworking. Even if it is a brief daily meeting, during the current pandemic, these meetings make sure that everyone hears from each other at least once a day, which aids collaboration. It helps people feel less isolated and disconnected from their teams. People can sometimes get hyper-focused on their tasks at hand that they somewhat forget they have a team they can reach out for help or even just a chat. So the stand-ups are a good daily reminder.
Keep them short and sweet
Common complaints regarding the daily stand-up meetings are that they last too long and feel like a waste of time. Whether it is that some managers make sure that the meeting always last that pre-determined amount of time. So even if it is a 30-minute meeting and nobody has much to share, the managers ramble on instead of cutting it short. While nobody minds having a 30-minute meeting, most people would prefer to cut it short if there is no added value in participating in it and could make the whole concept of daily stand-up meetings look pointless. If there is nothing of added value to be said, or people are not in the mood for casual chatting, just cut it short. Everyone will appreciate getting back a bit of their time!
Define and stick to key points
To make sure that these meetings bring value and keep them short and focused, you should make sure to define the key points to be shared by your team members. In general, these are:
Plans for the upcoming work time window
Any blockers, or issues that the team should be informed of
However, make sure to adapt them according to your team’s needs, while this may be the perfect structure for some teams it may not be the greatest fit for yours.
For example, as a member of a support team most of the time it is irrelevant for us to share our key progress and plans for the upcoming work time window. Unless it is a long-running issue that we are solving and there is important progress towards a solution, or we have a timely task that requires us to block some time specifically for that, these two topics are rarely discussed. Rather, we focus on the last key point, which is to communicate blockers or issues you are running into which you could use assistance with or the opinion of the rest of the team. This way, we make sure to not waste any time of the updates that are not so relevant to the rest of the team.
Big teams? Split 'em!
Stand-ups are best with smaller teams of up to 10 or so people, but once your teams start growing, many people find that they are very inefficient and bring little value to large teams. This makes complete sense, as when you have large teams, often you will have people whose tasks have absolutely no correlation with each other’s. Therefore, there will be information shared that is completely irrelevant for some of your team members and they will find themselves feeling like their time is being wasted, slowly start to ignore what is being said and stop participating in these meetings. The best thing you could do in these situations is to split the team, or at least the meeting, into groups of people that will share information and updates relevant to each other.
Micromanaging?! I don’t think so!
Stand-up meetings could end up making your team feel like they are being micromanaged. This could happen if there is too much focus on the first two key points of ‘What did I do yesterday?’ and ‘What will I do today?’. Don’t make your team members lay out every single tiny detail of the tasks they did and will do, this level of detail is unnecessary for most people and diminishes the value stand-ups bring. They should provide the managers and other members a general idea of what is going on and what is being worked on by whom. They should also facilitate collaboration and should not end up feeling like a contest between the team members. Additionally, not everyone works well and productively in the same way, so forcing people to adopt such a way of working can do more damage than good. Some people like to organize and block time for every single task at hand, while others prefer to have a general task and work on it in their own way at their own pace. Enable people to work in the ways that fit them the best and optimize their productivity.
Should you implement stand-ups for your team?
You read all of the above and are still unsure? That’s fine, give them a shot while keeping the tips above in mind and see if they work for your team. Maybe a daily meeting just isn’t the answer for you, so try reducing the frequency, like 2 or 3 times a week. Still not achieving the goals you want? You can try facilitating the benefits of stand-up meetings in other ways, like creating a team culture that enables your team members to communicate with each other throughout the day. Make sure that they also have the patience to get a response, and don’t always expect immediate help or answers.
My personal take
Personally, I appreciate having stand-up meetings, especially since I started working in my current team during the Covid-19 pandemic. Therefore, I started by working from home. Having at least that short and sweet meeting every day was much appreciated, as sometimes this would be the only interaction I would have with some of my colleagues. Of course, my super friendly team was always open to answer my questions or for a brief casual chat, but it simply does not happen as naturally or casually as it would if we were all sitting in an office together. So hearing from everyone every day and being able to ask questions or help others during the brief meeting brought a better sense of us being a real team, as well as making me more comfortable to ask others for help as they didn’t feel like complete strangers.
Want to know how we will implement stand-up meetings in your next SAP venture? Contact us today!