Daily standup feeling stale or stagnant?
When daily standup is not running super smoothly, it can cause more harm than good. We’re talking declining morale, wasted time, lower productivity, lack of engagement, team members who downright dread dragging themselves to the morning standup — it can turn into quite a sticky situation quickly.
But when you know how to run daily standup the right way, you can expect engagement, camaraderie, teamwork, better productivity, and more.
✂️ So let’s cut to the chase.
Below, you’ll discover what standup meetings are all about, their benefits, and some tips to help you run them well.
What is a standup meeting?
Daily standups are a type of meeting that you’ll see often in agile, scrum (where they’re called “daily scrum meetings”), and other types of methodologies commonly used with software development teams.
These meetings are supposed to be short and energetic to get the team on the same page as far as:
Standup meetings can be held live, virtually, or asynchronously via written messages. For remote teams or distributed teams, these meetings might be the only face-time team members get with their peers. Because of that, it’s a good time to build trust and connections among everyone.
These meetings are supposed to set the pace for the day, so they’re usually held first thing in the morning or right at the end of the day in preparation for the next day.
In scrum based teams, Scrum Masters usually lead daily standup. On agile teams, the team leader takes the reins. Usually the Tech Lead or Product Manager on the team.
What is the purpose of a daily standup meeting?
Daily standups are an opportunity for each team member to give quick status updates on progress for their project or sprint.
As such, each team member participates by answering the following questions:
- What did you do yesterday?
- What do you plan to do today?
- Are there any blockers or obstacles in your way?
These questions get the whole team on the same page. They also help individuals highlight potential problems. This way, the team can solve them as quickly as possible, and the project can move forward as planned.
Benefits of having daily standups
By now, you can probably already see some of the big benefits that come with this type of check-in! 😄
Let’s dive a little deeper so you can see the real strengths 💪 of well-run daily standups.
1) Enable stronger team alignment
In agile, scrum, and similar methodologies, teams typically work very closely with each other to complete projects. In fact, one person’s tasks will often directly intersect with the things their teammates are working on.
Thus, daily huddles are meant to bring teams into alignment.
The updates provided during these meetings help keep projects running smoothly so that everyone knows:
- What everyone else is working on
- How that progress affects individual workflows
2) Identify and reduce roadblocks
Ever seen an issue that had been ignored long enough for it to snowball out of control?
Here’s another benefit to effective standup meetings. When people identify their blockers as soon as they’ve noticed them, it gives teams a chance to find solutions before they can worsen and damage the project.
3) Strengthen team collaboration and communication
Never forget the “three C’s” of standup meetings:
When these meetings are conducted well, team members get the benefits of all three.
The face time, jokes, and shared experiences help everyone bond. When there’s a strong connection between team members, everyone will be more comfortable and inclined to communicate on tasks and projects.
This kind of teamwork also gets multiple eyes on projects and tasks — and helps everyone feel comfortable enough to offer assistance or solutions wherever they’re needed.
4) Improve accountability and task tracking
Daily standups help keep everyone honest.
Not that people will try to be dishonest, but when you have to announce your progress at a status meeting each day, it helps keep you accountable.
These meetings are also a good way to track tasks. That’s particularly important considering that agile teams and scrum teams work so closely together. They need to know what their teammates are working on so that they can plan their own tasks accordingly.
5) Increase focus on priorities and goals
On big projects, it’s super easy to get into the weeds. When that happens, they can easily end up lagging behind on their timelines.
Standup meetings provide that clear direction.
Each day, each team member lays out goals and priorities for the day. It keeps individual workflows running smoothly and everyone on track so that you don’t end up with people working on low-priority tasks that can be dealt with later.
6) Boost team morale and motivation
We know we mentioned it before. But it’s really hard to overstate how huge camaraderie is. Especially now that remote work has become the norm in many industries.
Standup meetings, whether in-person or remote, help even the most introverted members of your team feel like they’re a part of something special.
That’s because these meetings are meant to be fun and energetic. 🥳
While you won’t spend a lot of time on chit chat, you can incorporate things like icebreakers at the beginning of a Zoom or Slack session to help set the mood and create a team building experience.
Over time, people will bond and create their own little in-jokes. That will lift both morale and motivation for everyone.
7) Reduce meetings overall
Part of the reason why daily standups are designed to be short is because they’re supposed to help teams have fewer meetings overall.
Standup meetings are supposed to be short meetings: about 15 to 20 minutes, tops, and hyper-focused.
That way, everyone can get in, discuss what needs to be discussed, and get out. In the long run, this saves time over hosting hour-long discussion sessions multiple times a week.
8) Better understand project progress and status
When you’re neck-deep on the fine details, it can be tough to see how near or far the finish line is.
Daily standups combat this by providing updates each day. This way, it’s easier for everyone to see where they are within the project timeline, and how their individual progress is helping move that timeline forward.
9) Expand the team’s project knowledge and understanding
On some projects, it’s easy to lose sight of the forest for all the trees.
Standup meetings help provide an important bit of clarity in a few key ways:
- Everyone gets to learn more about the project overall.
- They see how their contributions fit into the final product.
- People learn what other team members are doing to create that final product.
Ultimately, this understanding helps everyone work better as a group to engage in effective problem solving and meet shared goals.
Tips for having efficient standup meetings
So, how should you facilitate productive, efficient standup meetings?
Avoid standup killers and follow the tips below to get started.
Keep it short, sweet, and to the point
The biggest rule to ensure effective daily standups is to keep them quick and on-point:
- Use a timer or another tool.
- Make sure the team lead keeps the conversation on track.
- If it steers back into chitchat, bring it back to the topics on the agenda
- If people bring up new topics not on the agenda, note them down for discussion later
Allow time for preparation
A big part of efficiency comes from coming prepared. Send out reminders about 15 minutes ahead of time to each team member to jot down some notes about their accomplishments, goals, and blockers.
This way, everyone will have a pre-made list to work from when it’s their turn to meet. No head-scratching and trying to remember what to bring up.
Have the meeting at a consistent time and place
Routines are proven to have big benefits such as:
- Lower stress levels
- Greater productivity
- Better organization
This is why daily standups should be held at a consistent time and place each day.
This is especially true if you’re video conferencing with team members in different time zones. Keeping meeting times and places consistent helps everyone make it a part of their routine — and that will help everyone make meetings more efficient and productive as they settle into this formula.
Use a clear meeting format and agenda
Keep It Simple.
There’s no need to create an overly complex meeting structure or agenda. In this case, keeping it simple means giving everyone a chance to speak and following the standard format, which includes the three questions we outlined above.
Here they are, so you don’t have to scroll back up:
- What did you accomplish yesterday (or earlier today/last week)?
- What will you do today (or tomorrow/next week)?
- What roadblocks or obstacles are impeding your progress?
Forget things like lengthy lists of action items or time-consuming sessions with the whiteboard. Simply pair those questions with a roundtable format that gives everyone a chance to answer them, and you’ll be golden. If something important comes up that doesn't fit the agenda, that topic may deserve it's own sync-up meeting at another time.
Use a standup tool for more productivity
Last but not least, consider using a tool designed specifically with standup meetings in mind. An app like Spinach can help you increase engagement and productivity.
Through features like Slack reminders that let everyone know when it’s time to prepare for standup. Spinach also provides instant summaries from agile meetings like daily standup, suggests action items and tickets that can be added to your board in a single click.
Spinach also integrates with some of your favorite meeting tools. You can send meeting summaries via email, Slack, Notion or Confluence and add tasks and tickets to your board in Jira, Trello, Linear, Asana or ClickUp.
Harness the power of daily standups with Spinach
You’ve seen the powerful benefits of daily standups that run efficiently. Now it’s time to start holding better meetings with your team — and Spinach gives you the tools to do that. You can try it out for free here, no strings attached.