How To Plan For Daily Standups During The Holidays

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For many employees, the holidays offer a welcome break in routine. But for team leaders, the last few weeks of December put a pin in their team’s productivity.

When so many people take off at the same time, it leaves the few remaining souls at the office with a ton of work on their plates. They need to get more work than usual done, and in less time.

Every second they spend in their typical in-person daily standups (that would otherwise help them track progress) eats away at time they could be using to pore through their mountains of work.

Frequent checkins are an important part of ensuring individuals are on track to meet their goals and working as a team. But especially when the holidays roll around, managers need to alter how they run standups and create additional support, without sacrificing their employees’ time or autonomy.

Here are some ways to revive your daily standups and simplify your workflow during holiday madness.

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How to run effective meetings with I Done This

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Qualaroo has been leveraging I Done This to continuously improve their ops, communication, and efficiency. Their team wanted to streamline their weekly all-hands on deck meeting process.

The Qualaroo team was slogging through a Google document maze for weekly meetings but switched over to I Done This 100% to run more effective meetings. At the start of the week they now list their goals with a #weekly in I Done This. Every day they see how their team is progressing against their weekly goals.

The team limits each team member to five talking points from their #weekly entries and the rest of the entries were reviewed independently on I Done This. Any communication that involves one other person or small group would be moved to after the meeting to ensure  a speedy meeting. Qualaroo’s CEO, Brad Wittwer, called ecstatically about how I Done This just saved everyone on the team 30 minutes. After doing the math, this was a huge cost savings for them. From Brad, “I Done This just cut down our all-hands meeting by 33%, which means you just saved us thousands of dollars.”

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The Ultimate Guide to Remote Standups

Remote work is growing fast in the United States.

Since 2005, the number of people working from home at least half the time has more than doubled according to Global Workplace Analytics. Even more interesting, as many as 90% of workers in the US would prefer to work from home a few days each week.

Work as we know it is changing.

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And while most would agree that the trend is positive, there are plenty of growing pains associated with remote work, namely meetings. As offices change, communication is changing too.

For better or worse, meetings are a staple of nine to five life. But the traditional model doesn’t translate well in remote settings, where people are spread across time zones, coffee shops and coworking spaces. Asynchronous communication is key to making a distributed team work. It’s time to rethink the way me meet.

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The Most Effective Way of Combating the Problem of Standup Tardiness

You’re responsible for coordinating a daily standup with a team of developers, and you’re consistently faced with the same pesky problem: standup tardiness.

Every day you try to have a standup at about the same time, and no matter how hard you try, someone still doesn’t show up on time. This wouldn’t be as big a deal if it were an hour long meeting, but missing eight minutes of standup is missing most of it! Or, if you don’t start without them, you find yourself waiting fifteen minutes to hold a ten minute meeting. The whole point of the standup is to quickly communicate your daily schedule.

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You’ve tried different times of the day, you’ve tried giving warnings, and you’ve even stopped making them physically stand up—but, still, all your efforts have proven futile.

The reason: one fundamental misunderstanding between developers and managers.

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The Ultimate Guide to Email Standups

If your startup needs a dynamic communication system, daily standups might sound like a great idea. So you pitch it to your team and get everyone on board with the daily 9:30 a.m. meeting where everybody stands and gets straight to the point.

Each person shares a few key updates about what they’re working on and what’s blocking them from completing important tasks. Everything is going great, and the company is growing.

But as you keep hiring, the daily standup becomes a chore. The more people who have to speak, the longer the meeting lasts, and the less productive it feels. Then one day you forget to do something that Jill from product management asked during a standup because nobody was taking notes. It was your idea that nobody should take notes! You read about it on a “How To” startup blog.

Daily standups are supposed to be an efficient way for teams to stay updated, but all of a sudden yours has turned on you. The barrage of information doesn’t seem as useful, and the meeting itself is a time-sink. It requires everyone to drop what they’re working on every day just to gather round and hear updates. It’s time-consuming and disruptive.

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Progress, Plans, Problems: Sync Your Team with Updates

If the daily challenge of communicating with your co-workers is driving your crazy, you are not alone. Between all of the different tasks and moving pieces on your schedule, keeping your team members informed about your progress can be a frustrating challenge. It’s equally overwhelming trying to stay up-to-date on what your co-workers are doing. There is a huge amount of information to sift through.

Some companies implement strategies like progress reports and extra meetings to facilitate communication. But these are often time-consuming and they only add to the white noise. It’s time to clear your head. The key to successful communication is clarity, not buzz.

If you want to maximize the efficiency of your team’s status reports, think about using PPP.

PPP Streamlines Communication

Progress, plans, problems is an approach to communication that enables you and your team members to share what you are working on in a friendly and efficient way. The three P’s stand for “progress, plans and problems.” This technique is used by companies like Skype, Ebay, Facebook, and Seedcamp to streamline communication channels between managers and co-workers.

Every week, people report their top 3-5 achievements, goals and challenges in an email memo that is easy to read. It saves time and it helps keep everyone on the same page. The template looks like this:

  • Progress: What were your three biggest accomplishments this week?
  • Plans: What are your top three priorities for next week?
  • Problems: What are three problems you are facing? Problems usually require the help of other people to solve.

Rachel Veroff

It’s important to encourage your team members to give each other updates about their progress on assignments because it allows everyone to see the larger picture. These updates can happen daily, weekly or monthly, depending on your company’s needs.

The three P’s outlined above provide a de facto template to start from. Depending on what your company does, you might decide to add extra categories as you go along. The point is to keep everyone on the team informed and in sync, without wasting a lot of time with lengthy progress reports or meetings.

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The Definitive Guide to Daily Standups

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When the business world seeks new productivity tools, it often turns its gaze to Silicon Valley, an industry famous for its ability to eliminate the cruft of the workday. But there’s one productivity tool that has its roots not in open-plan offices, but in military strategy boardrooms: the daily standup meeting.

The daily standup has its instructions in the title. It’s a daily meeting where participants stand. That’s it.

Ideally, the lack of chairs promotes a quick and effective meeting. If the conversation prompts a deeper discussion about a specific topic, it’s tabled for after the daily standup.

It’s a technique that American General William Pagonis used during the First Gulf War, where he served as director of Logistics. Each morning, he had 40 officers meet together in a conference room without a table or chairs. It minimized the need for pleasantries and unnecessary comments. Even military officers, it turns out, have a tendency to digress. Pagonis found that the format maximized productivity crucial to military success. Norman Schwarzkopf, in fact, salutes Pagonis as the “logistical wizard” of the Gulf War.

After hanging up is uniform, Pagonis brought this military precision to his corporate job as a Sears executive. He brought workers into a conference room sans chairs and had a quick run-down of the day. Under his leadership, Sears streamlined its business model, cutting delivery times in half. The standup, Pagonis says, was crucial to Sears’ success. When asked why the daily standup was so effective, he said, “When you sit down, a meeting goes for over an hour or an hour and a half, and you lose everybody. When people are standing, they talk faster or they say I don’t have anything to add.” It’s that simple.

The daily stand-up takes a lot of forms. Some offices do it once a week—others, twice a day. Some use chairs, some do it electronically. Some, as it turns out, are more successful than others. This guide looks at how and why daily standups are so effective, and the best way to implement one into your workday.

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How Talko uses iDoneThis + Slack + Talko for great daily standup meetings

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Building the future of communication requires a whole lot of — you guessed it — communication.

Especially when the team is spread out across three cities and two time zones.

Talko is a tool for holding one-on-one and team calls wherever you are. It’s designed to work great while mobile, including in and across highly variable mobile networks. The calls can be recorded, tagged and interjected with photos during the call. The whole call and supporting data is then stored and can be easily searched or shared. The company was founded by former Microsoft Chief Architect Ray Ozzie along with Matt Pope, who heads up product, and Eric Patey, who heads up engineering.

When the team at Talko gets together for their daily standup meeting, they turn to three tools to get the job done: Talko, iDoneThis and Slack.

Or as the Talko team wrote in a recent blog post on Medium:

“We use iDoneThis to log what each team member has done and will do. We’ve used and loved it for years now. By the time we do standup, we know that everyone has seen ‘just the facts’ regarding dones and to-dos. So we focus our standup time exclusively on issues, blockers or questions. It’s efficient.”

Talko is made up of 11 people, with about half in Boston and the rest divided between San Fransisco and Seattle.

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