Sunday, October 11, 2015

15-Minute Daily Stand-Up Meeting

This article is part of a series. You can start at the beginning: Leading Development Teams on Large Projects.

At my company, we gravitate towards the waterfall development methodology though we do adopt some agile practices. For example, I hold daily stand-up meetings that last only 15 minutes. Sometimes I will hold these meetings over instant message if any team members are working from home, but I always have them. The daily meeting is the most important way to keep everyone informed, hold the team together, and keep progress moving forward. There are three questions I ask each team member at every meeting:

1.       What did you work on yesterday?
2.       What do you plan to work on today?
3.       Do you have any blocking items?

Asking these questions quickly tells me the status of the project, how far along we are. It also tells me if someone is not working on anything and can help another team member out or if I can assign that person a new task. Finally, it tells me if anyone is having problems meeting their goals. As the team lead, this is where I need to step in and find ways to clear any obstacles so the project can move ahead and with the daily meeting, I know the issues as soon as possible. Building trust with your team is largely based on how you perform at removing obstacles, so it is best to act quickly on these items.
Another benefit of this daily meeting is that I can keep the team informed of any important decisions, directions, or changes on the project. Sometimes during long-running projects, upper management or business owners forget what the original goals were, so part of my job as team lead involves continuously reminding management and business owner what the project goals are and the progress the team has made. Sometimes, that’s not enough though and the direction gets changed anyway. The daily meeting enables me to quickly communicate and negate any rumors the team might have heard.

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