8 Common Pitfalls To Avoid In Every Standup Meeting

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A standup meeting should be brief, informative, and consistent. By this, we mean every standup should be no longer than 15 minutes, ensure everyone gets on the same page, and always cover the same three questions, namely:

  1. What did you do yesterday?
  2. What will you do today?
  3. Is anything blocking your progress?

Sadly, we often hear stories of standups that are anything but brief. In fact, many teams tell us they think the standup meeting takes too long and is nothing more than ‘a waste of time.’ The reality is: it’s unlikely to be the meeting that’s broken.

It’s more probable that teams aren’t running their standups properly, resulting in ineffective, overly drawn-out status updates.

Here are the eight common pitfalls that lead to a wasteful standup meeting.

Avoid These 8 Pitfalls In Your Next Daily Standup

There are countless reasons a standup can lose focus. But typically, we find they boil down into eight common pitfalls, which we’ve listed below.

1 – Misalignment

By misalignment, we mean people discussing things that are beyond the scope of a standup meeting: either tasks that don’t relate to other people’s work or an item that only one person cares about in a six-person meeting.

Every standup meeting should align everyone on a project, ensuring people waste no time listening to irrelevant information, instead only focusing on what’s meaningful or time-sensitive to all involved.

2 – Too Long

A daily standup should never last longer than fifteen minutes. If it does, you’re doing something wrong. If you notice the conversation shift to something unrelated to your project, or one person is talking for five minutes without making much of a point, then your standup will last too long.

You can avoid this by keeping standups to a maximum of nine participants and keeping each individual update as concise as possible.

3 – Wrong Focus

A daily standup is for updates. Other meetings are for problem-solving. If two people start trying to find a solution mid-standup, ask them to ‘hold that thought’ and take their discussion offline.

4 – Wrong Time

There is no ‘right time’ to hold a standup meeting, just the right time for your team to hold its daily standup. Look for periods when people are naturally engaged, focused, and energized. And try to avoid disrupting workflows or deep concentration. If you need to overcome time-zone differences, consider running an asynchronous standup meeting.

5 – Overly Pressurized

Some folks are natural talkers. Others prefer to keep thoughts to themselves. Consider if your team is more extroverted or introverted and do your best to help the quieter ones speak up while avoiding the talkers from dominating the 15-minute session.

6 – Lack Of Concentration

People sometimes prefer to rehearse what they’re about to say instead of listening to team-mates (like they’re supposed to). And sometimes, after they’ve spoken, they lose concentration and start to play on their phone.

Both activities harm the meeting format as everyone needs to hear the valuable information if they’re to understand what needs to happen that day.

7 – Absenteeism

Dealing with absenteeism in the workplace is a difficult matter. But if you don’t hold your daily standup in the same place, at the same time, people can easily forget about — or not bother to turn up at — the meeting. And when people miss a standup or even just show up late, it can disrupt the information flow and affect everyone’s productivity.

8 – Not Raising Blockers

Never forget: the daily standup is more than a plain status update. It’s about removing impediments. So, make sure your team talks about any issue blocking their work, no matter how embarrassing or uncomfortable that may be.

It’s the only way to extract the maximum value from every standup meeting.

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