Making your team the most productive and efficient group in the company is a big goal. But it’s not impractical. When your team works together on a project in a way that encourages communication and collaboration, you’ll find that identifying and solving problems becomes easier than ever before.

 

In today’s busy world, employees often feel isolated. It’s important for you to bring your team together when possible. It can be hard to find the time to do that when everybody is working hard on a deadline. That’s where standups come in. When you set aside a few minutes each day for the team to meet, you create an important routine that supports the project and builds camaraderie.

 

What’s a standup?

 

Standups are daily meetings that include the members of the team working on a project.  Some call standups “daily scrums” or “huddles.” These types of meetings are most common in software companies and other businesses that use Agile methodologies, but they’re also useful in the service industry and with hourly employees. In the most traditional sense of the word, the members of a team stand around the room or near the project board and report on their progress. Many people in the restaurant world call standups “line-ups”. Before the doors open to customers, employees stand in line to share information and to have their uniforms inspected.

 

Standups usually only last 10 to 15 minutes. Their purpose is simple–to provide a status update and report any obstacles. Standups often happen at the very beginning of the shift.

 

Why are standups useful?

 

There are many benefits to standup meetings. In the business community, they’re a useful way to track workflow and project status. When the team meets on a regular basis, the workflow is more consistent. In the service industry, employees share relevant information and trade tips. For example, if one waitperson had trouble with a customer the night before, she might ask for advice on how to handle a similar situation in the future. That way, your establishment becomes known for consistency. Or, internally,  if a cashier had trouble balancing his drawer, someone else may be able to offer a more efficient way to count cash.

 

There are other reasons why standups are popular. Let’s take a look at a few:

 

  1. Standups get people functioning as a team. It can be tough for a team in a fast-paced environment to communicate effectively. The chefs rely on the dishwashers to have clean cutlery. The waitstaff relies on the bartender to make drinks. Every person has feedback for others, but instead of long boring meetings, standups are quick check-ins that give the team time to communicate.
  2. Standups build a shared vision. When the team stands in front of the project board and sees how the work is progressing, they have visual proof that each person is working for the same goal.
  3. Standups help coordinate efforts. When the team meets at the beginning of every shift, most of the communication issues are avoided. For example, the kitchen staff can let the wait staff know that they need to use louder voices or neater handwriting. Instead of having to wait to explain an issue at an infrequent team meeting, team members can take time during the standup to report problems.
  4. Standups make teams more efficient. With just one 10- to 15-minute meeting during the day, team members can spend their time on focused work, rather than arguing about issues that are easily resolved.
  5. Standups improve intercompany communication. Representatives from the marketing department might show up to hear about features that are being created. The CEO might sit in to get a feel for any obstacles the team may be facing.

 

How to run a standup

 

Running a standup is all about creating a routine. You don’t have to follow a traditional style standup that includes working the board, answering questions, and discussing obstacles. You should organize something that fits your team’s personality and your company’s culture.

 

Before a standup starts, you’ll want to consider some of the following questions:

  • Who should attend the meeting?
  • What will be discussed in the meeting?
  • Where and when will the standup be held?
  • How will I create buy-in during the meeting?

 

Once you’ve considered the specifics, it’s time to imagine how the standup meeting will play out. There should be some sort of visual representation of the project workflow. At the beginning of a standup, people move cards on the board to show progress. When you’ve done that, each person on the team should report out about the status of the work items. The three questions to be answered during a standup are:

  • Which tasks did I do yesterday?
  • Where is my focus today?
  • What obstacles am I facing in my work?

 

Common standup pitfalls

 

Because standups have a specific purpose, it’s important to keep them on track. Here are a few things to avoid when you’re leading a standup:

 

  • Discussions focused on people. Standups should be about work items and not about the person performing the task.
  • Team members who don’t speak up. Make sure that you give quiet people time to talk about what’s on their minds.
  • Moving off topic. Standups are not problem-solving meetings, nor are they planning meetings. Standups are to discuss status and obstacles. If obstacles cannot be rectified quickly, schedule additional meetings.
  • Manager oversight. Standups do not take place as a way for employees to report to their leader or manager. If a manager joins the standup, remind them that this is not the place to ask questions of their employees. This meeting is about providing the team information about the progress of the project.
  • People who are not prepared. Standup meetings should be short and to the point. If team members have trouble thinking about what to say and how to explain the work that they’ve completed, the work that they intend to complete, and any obstacles that they have, consider building in a few minutes of prep time before the meeting begins. To do that, schedule an invitation to the meeting that begins five minutes before the discussion will commence.

 

Takeaways

 

Standups are important to team culture. They allow team members to see that everybody is focused on the same customer service goals. These short meetings give all stakeholders a chance to learn about how the team is functioning as a unit. The most important thing you can do when starting a standup with your team is to create a routine that can be followed on a regular basis. Keep your standups short and concentrated on the work at hand. You’ll find the in doing so your team will become more focused and more efficient.

Lisa Andersen
Lisa Andersen Content Editor
Part of Planday’s content team in Copenhagen, Lisa is into yoga and loves good writing. Her experience includes working with communication and PR for international grassroots organizations in Argentina and Bolivia.