Regardless of management style or company size, the daily standup has become ubiquitous as an essential tool for every self-organizing team. I’ve both participated in and led standups for engineering teams and cross business units, and formed my own opinion on what makes the most effective standup, which I’ve detailed below for your pleasureful consumption. Every team has different needs, so mileage may vary.
First, I’ll propose a structure. Most typical standups have some form of did / doing / going to do / blockers, so I’ll highlight the section I’ve included, “What I’ve Learned”. The goal here is to get your team members in the habit of reflecting (outside of the standup) on the challenges they faced yesterday and what they learned. I don’t see this happening in many standups, but I think it is the most important. You want your teammates mindfully engaged with what they did yesterday and how they can be deliberate about tasks they face in the future.
- What I’ve done
- What I’ve learned
- What I plan on doing tomorrow
- Blockers / Help
Code of conduct
You probably think a code of conduct is overkill, especially if you have a small team, you’ve made it this far with me so just trust me, okay? It’ll solve a bunch of issues in the future and set the right precedent for everyone as your team grows.
Stay on topic
Pretty simple. You want everyone to be present and engaged for the entire meeting. If teammates have something to talk through, they can make another meeting for it.
Set a time limit per person
See above. Keep everyone engaged throughout the entire meeting.
Everyone’s 5 minutes of fame is theirs. Be respectful. The meeting is pretty short. It can wait.
Tips if you’re leading a standup
Praise everyone for their accomplishments
Everybody loves to hear that their work is appreciated. Don’t be afraid to tell them! Cultivating a team culture where everyone is openly appreciative of their coworkers will lead to amazing things.
Set a good example.
The rules that apply to your team members apply to you, too. If you don’t agree, you should not be in a leadership position.
At the end of the day you need to deliver, but calling people out in the standup is not the solution. If team members are missing deadlines or sprint goals, help them better understand how to estimate and set realistic goals.
Tips if you’re participating in the standup
You don’t know what happened that led to someone missing a milestone or deadline. They might’ve had a bad day, or misestimated their task. There will be a day you do, too. They need you to be supportive and ask if they need help.
You aren’t any more important than anyone else. Don’t be a Rick.
At the end of the day, the goal of a good standup is to generate collective motivation for the team. Everyone gets there differently. I hope this article helps everyone reflect on their standup, figure out what (if anything) is missing, and how to optimize it.
If you enjoyed this article, please help out with a like, a share, or a comment. It fuels my focus to write more of it, thanks!
James Mensch is the Director of Engineering at Threatcare and the CEO at Magnifai. I believe in building intelligent products, using data to drive decisions, and engineering for social impact. I write about some of the cool stuff I do with tech, productivity and motivation psychology, and my social innovation projects. Connect with me on LinkedIn or say hi on Twitter.