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Best Practice: MCS Stand Up Meetings

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Estimated reading time: 3 min

Setting an Agenda

Stand-ups can be done digitally and should be done once weekly for consistency’s sake and team rapport building. The agenda is short and sweet.

Each team member answers:

  1. What did you accomplish since the last meeting?
  2. What are you working on until the next meeting?
  3. What is getting in your way or keeping you from doing your job?

This tells the rest of the team exactly what is getting done and what needs improvement. Listing any problems or issues you may have is crucial so that your team will know to help you out. Small problems should always be addressed so that they don’t turn into big problems.

Note: The answer to the first question should only be a brief mention. Far more time should be spent talking about current tasks and the issues you may face. Think bullet points rather than paragraphs.

Setting a Routine

It’s important to develop some sort of routine for stand up meetings. Without a routine, procrastination will take effect and meetings will never happen. Doing them digitally like this allows people to work without impeding one another, and still effectively connect.

Whether a given project has a stand-up every day or every week, consistency is key. 

The scrum meeting is less about strict rules and more about maximizing productivity. Turning the daily or weekly stand up into a regular routine that accommodates a given project’s unique schedule helps ensure scrum meetings are an effective tool for your development team.

Setting Guiderails

Don’t wait around for all team members

Always start your meeting at the set time. Those who miss it or who are late likely make accommodations and try harder to make it to the next one.

Don’t introduce new ideas during a stand-up

The stand up meeting is not a planning meeting. Introducing new topics will divert attention away from answering your strict 3 question agenda.

Don’t let team members ramble

In general, adhering to the rule, “everything you say should be valuable to everyone in the room” will keep rambling down. If that’s not enough, another simple fix is to set a strict time limit for each speaker.   

Don’t replace other team communication in favor of the stand-up

The stand-up meeting should not be the sole means of team communication. It’s easy to wait around for the next meeting to bring up an issue, but this just slows down your team and bloats the stand-up meeting.

Do give everyone a chance to talk

No one should dominate a stand-up meeting. With the short time frame, everyone needs to share high-level or important information as concisely as possible. This isn’t the time to brag about how busy you are. Similarly, team members who aren’t participating may need to feel more comfortable, and having everyone participate 100% given the small time commitment involved is a good first step. The same people who are less likely to speak up, are more likely to need the most help.

Don’t skip follow-up

If you do the stand-up over a call, put your notes into the channel fore each team member after. It’s for accountability and planning to turn the stand-up into action items. The end result should be that you ensure what was discussed in the meeting moves to the next step.

Do share problems and improvements after

In follow ups in-channel, one of the primary benefits of a team versus working alone, is that team members can help each other when someone encounters a problem or discovers a better way of doing something. A “team” where team members are not comfortable sharing problems and/or do not help each other tends to be ineffective. If someone is an expert on something, a 30 minute guide from them can save hours for a junior. Similarly, the junior can help a senior team member in return for content-focused tasks in a time value exchange like this.

Identify as a team. It is very difficult to psychologically identify with a group if you don’t regularly engage with the group. You will not develop a strong sense of relatedness even if you believe them to be capable and pursuing the same goals.

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