10 most common issues of stand-up meetings and how to solve them

October 27, 20160

 

According to Wikipedia, a stand-up meeting (or simply “stand-up”) is “a daily team-meeting held to provide a status update to the team members”. In many cases, stand-up meetings not only “don’t work” but also do very bad, sometimes catastrophic, things to management process, whether it’s agile or not. In this short article we would like to discuss some of the most popular issues and how they can be solved. 

1.Lateness

Typically, daily meetings are scheduled on the same time to make the team feel downright necessity to attend and find out the status. However, sometimes people do not put the alarm clock, are caught in traffic jams, or just have a lax attitude to daily stand-up meeting. As a result, a latecomer not only doesn’t receive information from the others, but also doesn’t share necessary information, including issues, with the team.

 

What can be done?

Make the team-mate understand how important these meetings are for the whole team. Sometimes it is enough to just have a discussion with this person. Also it would be appreciated if latecomer brings sweets for whole team:) Persistent delays may also be an indication of something more. For example, a meeting at 8 AM in the majority of teams will be regarded as a travesty – as a result, it is expectable that the biggest part of team will simply not come. Put the meeting at a time when everyone will be able to get there in time.

 

2. Distractions

Recommended time limit for stand-up meetings is 15 minutes. Any things that prevent you from finishing the meeting within this time-frame, are harmful by definition. Such disturbances can be caused by:

  • Extraneous noise
  • People scurrying back and forth
  • Mobile phones

What can be done?

Extraneous noise usually is made by the colleagues from other teams, who discuss the joke of the day or the local news. The best solution is to have meetings in a separate room, specially arranged for meetings. If it’s not possible, and the meetings are done in an open space, convince people nearby that the meeting is very important and it’s better to stay quiet till the end of meeting :). Mobile phones should be switched to silent mode.

 

3. Problem concealing

Each team member has to answer to following three questions:

  • What did I accomplish yesterday?
  • What will I do today?
  • What obstacles are impeding my progress?

Kanban version has only two:

  • What obstacles are impeding my progress?
  • (looking at the board from right to left) What has progressed?

Very often people forget about answering to (the most important in my opinion) question: What obstacles are impeding my progress? Concealment of problems delays their resolution, leading to a snowball effect: the more time is passed before a problem is discovered, the more resources will be necessary to address to solve this problem.

What can be done?

If a team member cannot deal with a task during 8 working hours, then this task is too big and should be splitted or he has some obstacles to finish the task. It is good to pay attention to your teammates how much time they spend on tasks, and in case there are some issues with which your mate cannot deal, the issues should be submitted for general discussion, where the steps to resolve them will be undertaken with the help of his comrades.

 

4. Problem solving

Here is another mistake when the team tries to solve problems during the stand-up meeting. If you remember, the time frame for the meeting should not be longer than 15 minutes. Is it possible to find a good solution during 15 minutes? For most of the cases the answer is – No.

What can be done?

It is necessary to agree and set up a meeting dedicated to finding the solution of the problem after the stand-up meeting. A good practice is to carry out the meeting near a board, on which will be written:

  • The problem in brief
  • Responsible persons
  • Status

During this meeting, all problems should be written down on this board. Visualization will help to some extent to materialize the problem and psychologically tie team members responsible for solving it. After solving the problem – the problem can be crossed out or erased from the board.
But, clarifying questions are not relevant to solving the problem. They are just a way to clarify the misunderstandings, so such questions should be encouraged rather than suppressed.

 

5. Unclear wording

To be honest, not all of us are good speakers. For some people it is very difficult to express your thoughts, therefore some situations may arise when a person begins to stammer and cannot explain the problem. The other side of the same problem occurs when a team member cheerfully is telling about the plans and problems in a technical language. The manager or designer not always can understand what is being said.

What can be done?

The solution is to help the person to eliminate all obstacles that prevent him from the necessary information to the team. Unclear wording requires more time for reflection and preliminary preparation. Too technical wording should be simplified. It is sufficient to provide just the general points of the problem. The details necessary for its solution can be specified after the meeting.

 

6. Lack of preparation

Let’s go back to the time allotted for the meeting. Telling his part of the meeting, each member of the team, should not waste time digging into the memory in an attempt to remember what he did yesterday.

What can be done?

Prepare in advance. Ideally, each team member should come to the meeting with a piece of paper where he had written briefly his achievements from previous day, plans for today and the problems encountered. Such a list will not be distracted by memories and will not waste the team time in vain.

 

7. Reporting to Management

In most cases manager participates in the stand-up meetings with entire team. Often in such situation following way of presenting information appears: team member looks only at the manager and everything that he says is directed to the manager. This approach of stand-up meetings indicates that the person does not share the achievements with the team, but makes a report for the manager. This situation, consequently, leads to the fact that neither the team does not know about the success of this man nor that the reporting member knows the real situation of the team and of the project.

What can be done?

A good practice is to get out the manager from the room where the stand-up meetings take place. Team should remember that stand-up meetings are not for reporting to management. They are for making known the plans for current day, potential challenges and to coordinate efforts to resolve difficult and/or time-consuming issues. If a team member has the habit to look at only one person (in most cases this person is manager) during reporting, it would be a good practice to change the point of view to another team-mate, ideally to all team-members by turn.

 

8. Natter

Very often some team members begin to talk off-topic, or with excessive thoroughness, or are trying to talk about an issue providing too much details.

What can be done?

Conduct preventive conversations about the dangers of natter for your meetings, strictly prevent a discharge from the topic. It makes sense to arrange a coffee break after stand-up, where the team is not only charged with energy for the next couple of hours, but also can express their sore.
But,A good joke is always to the point, otherwise it would not be a good joke 🙂 Group laugh infects with cheerfulness and positiveness – a great start for transition to the coffee break!

 

9. Floating meeting time

Sometimes it happens that the meeting time is changed. In bad cases it happens very often. You don’t know always about the changes in the schedule and can easily be late. As soon as you adjust to the new time, it changes again. Such jumps brings irritation and negativeness to the stand-up meetings, which does not lead to anything good.

What can be done?

Nothing. It means do not change anything – set up the meeting on the same time and try always to stick to it.

 

10. Stand-up meeting starts/doesn’t start the day

In some teams you can meet such situation that if an employee comes half an hour before the meeting, then the most half an hour he keeps “on hold”, state, when a person does not do anything productive, and is just waiting. At the same time the employee, who came two hours before meeting start, makes a lot of useful things, without being tied to a specific time.
On the other hand, for many teams, daily morning meeting is just an introduction to the work, a positive start, after which the work is fun.

What can be done?

Think. Different situations require different actions. Sometimes it makes sense to combine the times of arrival to work of all the team members at least within one hour, and then either move the meeting to the end of this hour, or move it two hours later – e.g. to 12 o’clock.

 

Conclusion

Like any other “tool”, it greatly depends on how you apply it in your own case. It’s not necessary to follow the stand-up rules with strictness. The best approach is to adapt the meeting for necessities of your team, because theory and practice do not always come hand in hand.

 

Bonus:

There is another issue, when the Manager uses daily meetings as a tool of work measurement.

Good Manager vs Bad Manager

In such atmosphere daily status updates in front of everybody motivate the best team players to backslide and become the same as the worst ones. Well, this is mostly because they don’t want to offend anyone by their super performance. It is in our nature to try to look similar to everybody else while being in a group. When everybody reports, “I still have nothing to show”, it would be strange to expect a good programmer to say, “I finished all my tasks and want to get more”. This may happen once, but after a few times, this A+ grade player will either stop working hard or will change the team. He will see that his performance is standing out and that this can’t be appreciated by the group, no matter what the manager says.

A good manager understands that each programmer has his or her own speed, quality, and salary. A good manager gives different tasks to different people and expects different results from them. Obviously, lining everybody up in the morning and expecting similar reports from them is a huge mistake. This mistake will have a catastrophic effect on A+ grade players, who are interested in achieving super results and expect to be super-appreciated and compensated.

A bad manager can’t manage different people differently, just because he doesn’t know how. That’s why he needs daily stand-ups, where everybody reports almost the same, and it’s easy to compare their results to each other. Also, it’s easier to blame or to cheer up those who don’t report similar to others. In other words, a bad manager uses daily stand-ups as an instrument of evaluation, which in this case only ruins the entire team’s motivation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

https://isd-soft.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/whitelogo150.png
Connect with us
Bulgara Street 33/1, Chisinau MD-2001, Moldova
+ 373 22 996 170
info@isd-soft.com
De Amfoor 15, 5807 GW Venray-Oostrum, The Netherlands
+ 31 478 502944

Subscribe to our newsletter today to receive updates on the latest news, releases and special offers.

Copyright ©2022, ISD. All rights reserved | Cookies Policy | Privacy Policy