You’ve probably at least heard the term “Daily Scrum” or “Daily Stand-Up” at some point. And it probably just sounds like one more meeting to add to your list of daily tasks. But more and more rising entrepreneurs and sales leaders are adopting this practice as an essential part of their work flow. With some basic expectations and the right implementation, the daily stand-up can completely change more than just the timeline of your work. It can change the way you think and feel about your team.
Let’s back up a few steps: What exactly is a daily stand-up? The basic idea seems pretty straightforward: the whole team meets for a quick status update. Each person addresses their tasks for the day. You literally stand up to keep it short. Depending on your team’s particular methodology, you may use a visual (such as a Kanban board) to track your workflow. It occurs at the same place and time, every day, regardless of whether or not each team member is present.
Without a firm commitment to keeping communication focused and thoughtful, it can be easy to misuse the daily stand-up as a place to solve problems. No one has the time for a 45-minute get-together every day. Here are some of my favorite tips for doing the most important 15-20 minutes of your day right:
Use the Stand-Up to Schedule One-On-One Conversations
In an intimate team environment, asking for support is not just allowed – it is required. Skill sharing and frequent communication are the backbone of how we do what we do, and sometimes this means you talk to your co-workers. A lot. However, the daily stand-up is not the place to get up close and personal with your teammates. If you want to properly honor their expertise and input, make some time for a more focused conversation, later in the day or immediately after your stand-up. Instead of I’m feeling stuck with this client. Can someone help me? stick to a more measurable framework, like I can’t quite find a good angle with anyone from Salesdrive. Greg or Susan – can I schedule 20 minutes with you today to discuss our strategy? Give your team some idea of what you need, and when you need it.
Establish Some Rules for Getting Started and Wrapping Up
Stand-ups can look different across varying types of teams, but it’s important to establish just a few bookend rules. You have the basic three-question structure down, but what else needs to be addressed? First, establish a speaking order that you stick with, every single meeting. This can be a fixed order that starts with the same person every time, or a rotating role. Start with the same person and move around the room from there. As long as your team has clarity on who starts first, it should be easy to slide into the conversation.
Sometimes it’s hard to get started without clear leadership as to who will speak first – especially if your stand-ups occur over the phone, like ours typically do. (We recently implemented the rule that whoever shows up last is the first to walk through their list. This gets some of the chit-chat out of the way, and also encourages everyone to be on time.) When the last person has finished their list, the person who spoke first should wrap things up with a predetermined send-out phrase such as “Okay Go Team” or “Enjoy your morning.” This sentence acts almost like a secret handshake or signal among your team, to mark the end of your meeting and open the door to a day of productive work.
Prepare a List
You are absolutely allowed to walk into a stand-up without a clear vision of where your work is going, but I guarantee this will end up being counterproductive, every single time. Your team might adore you and appreciate your work, but they certainly don’t have time to curate your personal to-do list for the day. Before you have to answer to your teammates, ask yourself the question “What am I doing today?” It takes just a few minutes to gather your thoughts before your stand-up, look at your yesterday, look at your day ahead, and prepare yourself to answer the three questions:
1. What did I do yesterday?
2. What am I doing today?
3. What support do I need, and from whom?
At Vitalization, we keep track of our work by creating a task in our task management app for each daily stand-up. This keeps us focused, but also provides a visual reminder for what our other teammates are working on.
There will be days when you face your team and admit to feeling lost. That’s okay! But the number of those days can be drastically reduced if you approach your stand-up well prepared.
Don’t Give Up If It Doesn’t Feel Productive Immediately
The thing is, it probably will. The daily stand-up is designed to energize your team, direct you into the day, and contextualize even the most tedious of tasks. Plus, you (hopefully) love your fellow team members, and simply communicating with them offers a sense of peace and understanding. But until you work out the kinks of your routine, a daily stand-up can potentially feel draining. That’s okay. Maybe take some time during the week to reevaluate what works and what doesn’t. Talk with your co-workers. What are they getting out of the stand-up? How can you make it better? What needs to be standardized? There is a reason the daily stand-up has been such a successful model for hundreds of years. Look hard into what old habits are holding you back from being intentional about the work you’re doing together.
Stand With Your People
A daily stand-up is really just everyone standing together. You don’t have to be an expert on Scrum dynamics or team selling to understand the value in standing together and facing the day. This is not just for software developers, monarchic committees, or even already-established, successful sales teams. The daily stand-up is for anyone who wants to meet their goals and help others do the same. Isn’t it time you remembered why you love what you do?
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