From the first day of lockdown in March, I have held a daily catch-up with my team first thing each working day. The main intention was to give the team a feeling of connection and maintain a level of routine. It also helped to get us through a hectic work period moving a university of 33,000 students from campus-based delivery entirely online.
The daily conversations kept everyone aware of changes, got quick answers to questions, and it allowed emerging problems to get identified and fixed before they got too big. Interestingly, I tested the idea of scrapping the catch-up after planning the new academic year in October, and the whole team rejected it. I wanted to give everyone back a couple of hours of their week, but the team saw it as the best part of their working day. We had a week off the meetings in the end, but they have become the centrepiece of how we plan and run our projects.
A ‘stand-up’ meeting is 10-15 minute informal meeting where attendees stand to force them to keep it short. Queen Victoria introduced stand-ups with her Privy Council in 1861 to minimise her public duties. More recently, it has been adopted by various agile project management methodologies, including Scrum and Kanban. The goal is to increase workflow through collaborative problem solving and signpost things that will soon cause problems.
How to run a daily stand-up
- Book out a daily meeting first thing in the working day. I book mine for 25 minutes to keep some space reserved in the calendar if follow-up conversations are needed. The aim is to have them complete in 15 minutes.
- Keep them as conversations but short and to the point. I use the first 5 minutes for social discussion and then a quick update from me including a what I completed yesterday, what I am doing today, and what I need from the team.
- Get each member of the group to do a 60-second status update. Ensure each person shares and let some conversation naturally emerge but once it starts to get into detail intervene with “Let us carry this on outside of the stand-up”. Each member should share:
- What they are will complete today.
- Requests for collaboration.
- End the meeting with an opening for questions or issues that the team want to raise. A final opportunity to talk usually brings up a few questions, and so is worth adding.
We use Microsoft Teams with a reoccurring meeting invite to host the video call. Using Teams allows the chat channel to stay open for social and work conversations to continue for the rest of the day. We set a rule early on that video is needed to make the calls more personal and people stick to it most days. Working from home can be isolating, and the social element of an office is hard to replicate. A short daily call acts as an icebreaker and helps keep the team collaboratively solving problems while having some fun.
Have a go with your team and let me know how it goes on Twitter.