Whether they are remote or in-person, daily standups help Agile teams quickly plan out their workday. The goal of the standup is to keep everyone informed and united as a team.

Your daily standup should give each person present a chance to answer these questions:

  • What did I work on yesterday?
  • What am I working on today?
  • What is blocking me?

Daily standups are intentionally short (15 minutes) to help your team maintain energy. A longer meeting held every day could cause your team to get bored with or burnt out on meetings. That said, despite your best intentions, any daily meeting has the potential to grow stale over time.

If you find yourself heading into your daily standup with indifference, then you’ve come to the right place. Continue reading to learn how you can improve your daily standups.

Make Sure Everyone Participates

A successful daily standup is one in which every person in attendance participates. You may notice over time that some team members are not as engaged as others. This is normal on occasion. However, there are some ways you can help encourage participation.

  • Cameras on! If you are holding daily standups with remote team members, then set the expectation to have cameras on for these types of meetings. People rely on visual cues to determine when to start speaking and it's easier to stay engaged with cameras on.
  • Tag, your next. Have each team member track who has already spoken and then “tag” the next person to speak. This exercise goes on until everyone has spoken.

Strive to create an environment where everyone is comfortable sharing their progress.

Work Together to Solve Potential Blockers

One portion of the daily standup involves identifying if there are any blockers that might be slowing down or preventing progress on work. It’s important to identify blockers during the meeting so that they can either quickly be resolved during the meeting or shortly after.

Here are a couple of suggestions to make this process as efficient as possible:

  • Write it down. Encourage team members to make a note of any blockers they encounter with work as they happen. This will remind them to bring them up in the meeting.
  • Solve what you can. Once someone identifies a blocker, if there is a simple fix, don’t hesitate to quickly resolve the issue during the meeting. Not every blocker will need follow-up. Create an atmosphere where people are comfortable offering solutions.

Note that not all blockers will be solvable right away. If the issue is more complex, then consider scheduling time outside of the daily standup to resolve issues based on their urgency. Always try your best to be respectful of everyone’s time and stick to the 15-minute standup timeframe.

Reserve Separate Time for Side Conversations

Some team members may arrive at the daily standup and want to have a casual conversation to start the day. This is fine for those who arrive early, but don’t let it derail your daily standup.

  • Ready, set, go! Aim to start your daily standup as close to the designated time as possible. That means wrapping up any casual conversation ahead of time.
  • Hold that thought. Shift any side conversations that breakout during the designated 15 minutes to a separate meeting where those involved can tackle the issue at hand. The main thing you want to avoid is side conversation making the standup run longer.

Note that side conversations will also be more meaningful when you dedicate time to them.

Choose a Time That Works for Everyone

It’s pretty much assumed that you should hold your daily standup near the start of everyone’s work day. But that doesn’t necessarily work for all teams. If you notice a couple team members struggling to arrive at the designated time or if conversation is difficult, consider reaching out to see if there is a better time for everyone to meet. Don’t be afraid to shake things up a bit.

  • Save it for the afternoon. Consider an afternoon daily standup. Afternoon meetings may be helpful for teams who like to resolve problems as they happen during the day.
  • Always plan ahead. End of day standups may be useful for those who prefer to plan ahead for the upcoming work day so they can hit the ground running. They may also work in situations where team members need to collaborate across different shifts.

It’s possible the timing of daily standups will vary based on individual projects or stages of work. Ultimately, you want to find a meeting time that helps your team stay focused and on track.

Introduce Elements of Fun

If your team does like to engage in more casual conversation prior to diving into the work discussion, then you may want to consider quick warm-up (or wind-down) prompts.

  • How’s everyone feeling today? Consider displaying a series of emojis or other images and have team members choose the one that best represents their mood.
  • Quote of the day. On Mondays (or any day), have one team member arrive prepared to share a quote of the day. This adds a fun, thoughtful element to your meeting.
  • Ready for the weekend. At the end of your final daily standup of the week, ask people to share one thing they are looking forward to as the weekend approaches.

Also consider celebrating milestones, including team and individual team member wins. This could be overcoming a roadblock or just excelling at the work being done. People tend to be more engaged when they feel recognized for the hard work they are putting into a project.

Clearly Signal the End of Your Standup

If you find that your daily standup goes on longer than planned each day, then you may want to set some sort of alarm or notification that represents a hard start or stop for the meeting.

  • Start the countdown. Consider displaying a visible 10-to-30-second countdown that signals it’s time to wrap up side conversations and start the daily standup.
  • That’s a wrap. Always aim to end your daily standups on time. Enforcing a hard stopping point for your meetings may even encourage more active participation.

If your daily standups are constantly going over 15 minutes, then it’s time to re-evaluate.

Reflect on Standups in Your Retrospectives

You should be holding a retrospective after every sprint. This is a time to look back on the previous sprint and gauge what went well and what did not go well. You can also include time for reflection on daily standups held during a sprint in your retrospective. Just like any other aspect of the process, it’s important to reflect on your daily standups and identify ways to improve.

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