Feel like the internal communication at your agency is a little bit of a mess? Perhaps you're missing deadlines, upsetting clients, or duplicating your efforts internally? In this episode, Lee shares how stand-up meetings in his agency helps solve these problems.
He shares the format of a stand-up meeting, how it has helped his agency and some of the lessons learned along the way.
The team stand together rather than sit, and then each in turn go through the following:
- What they did yesterday
- What they plan to do today
- Any roadblocks or challenges they're facing
Some of the key challenges Lee and the team found with stand-up meetings include:
- Resistance from team members: Some team members may not see the value in having a daily meeting, and may feel like it's a waste of time.
- Lack of participation: Some team members may not show up or participate fully, which can affect the effectiveness of the meeting.
- Derailment: If the meeting goes off-topic or becomes too long, it can become less effective and even counterproductive.
Here are a few of the key takeaways from Lee's "monologue" 😂:
- Daily stand-up meetings are helpful in keeping everyone on the same page and identifying any issues or roadblocks before they become bigger problems.
- It's important to get team buy-in and explain the benefits of having a daily stand-up meeting, as well as setting expectations and being clear about the format, length, and timing of the meeting.
- Keeping the meeting short and sweet, using a consistent format, and having a specific team lead are important for the effectiveness of the meeting.
- Being flexible and finding ways to work around scheduling or technical issues can help ensure the effectiveness of the meeting.
- Finally, as a leader, it's important to balance being nice and friendly with being assertive and holding team members accountable, especially when it comes to ensuring participation in important meetings like the daily stand-up.
Welcome to the Trailblazer FM podcast. This is your host, Lee. On today's show, let's talk about communication and collaboration within our web agencies. Have you ever felt like everything's just a hot mess? For example, you don't know who's working on what, everyone's focused on their own little thing.
Perhaps too, that people are working on the same thing and don't realize it. That annoying duplication of effort. And of course, what's worse then is those missed deadlines, those upset clients, those projects you can't invoice because everything's just a hot mess.
Let's be honest now. We're all agency owners. We all know how this works. People like me can spout all of these great ideas, but life has other plans, doesn't it?
Now I apply what I'm gonna share with you in my business Event Engine, but, still on an almost weekly basis, I screw things up. I miscommunicate. I'm still not a hundred percent sure who is doing what because life will continuously throw curve balls. So let's be honest with each other. Please click on the link in the show notes and join me in the comments and let me know what you are struggling with, with your team in and around communication.
And also just share with me some highlights of, "Hey, these are great ideas, but here's an example of where it just didn't work for us". It's just good to have this honest conversation. Cause I think so often we listen to educational content, we try to apply it, we hit those curve balls, those unexpected things in life, and then we just feel real crappy about it.
So please take everything I'm about to say in the spirit it is intended. It is some information to help you, some things that you can apply. You ain't gonna get it right because life is gonna throw curve balls and that's the way the cookie crumbles. But at least we are doing something a bit more positive. We're trying to take a bit more control, and there is at least more benefit trying to do something, despite life, as opposed to just, splashing around in the storm of life, wondering where the hell the life ring is. Ooh, that was such an incredible metaphor.
Okay. All right. So we all know the spirit. This, this is intended. Let's, uh, let's discuss standup meetings.
So let's start with the basics. Daily standup meetings are short daily meetings where team members come together to discuss their progress and their goals. They're called standup meetings because, they're meant to be quick and efficient with team members literally standing up to keep them focused.
The format of the daily standup meeting is usually fairly simple, and each team member will take a turn and share three things, what they did yesterday, what they plan to do today, and any roadblocks or challenges that they're facing.
So the purpose of these, at least for us, is to keep everybody on the same page and to make sure that everybody knows, um, what they're working on and what their colleagues are working on as well.
It also helps us to identify any of those issues, those roadblocks that, may become bigger problems if they're left unchecked. Daily standup meetings are commonly used in, say, agile software development, but they can be used in any industry, um, or team setting where communication is well is essential. You know, like basically any team, because all teams need need to communicate. I feel like I just said something really ridiculous and obvious, just there.
Now some teams may choose to hold their standup meetings in person if you're in an office altogether. However, as remote working is a lot more common nowadays, people will jump into a Zoom call to do this. And again, they all apply the same sort of um, practice. You know, we're gonna go around the room. They're gonna say what they did yesterday, what they plan to do today, and what roadblocks or challenges they might be facing.
We do it, online because most of our team is spread around the world. Because we're all only sharing these three things, it's usually a pretty short and focused meeting, and that is the whole point of it.
I guess it's an informational meeting. We're not looking to solve all of those problems. We're not looking to all then discuss for an hour and a half how to mitigate those roadblocks. We just simply want to go round and share everything. And then different team members can take things offline and support each other if need be, if there are those particular roadblocks.
So at my agency Event Engine, we use WordPress and we've developed a whole suite of tools for event organizers, and we're constantly improving the product that we have. So these standup meetings are particularly helpful. I think the biggest example is bugs. So each day when say Karthi shares a bug that has reared, it's head. Well, we're all now aware and very quickly one of us can jump in after the call and help Karthi on whatever that bug is. So that allows us to crush them rather than Karthi working for weeks, slowly getting through our whole load of issues, which is what used to happen. Uh, I, I even remember creating a rule many years ago with him saying, "Look, if something takes you more than an hour to work out, then like connect with the team members".
However, he often wouldn't, he would forget, he would be deep in the code, et cetera. So now with regular meetings, he remembers, "Oh, I, I can bring this to our regular call and say, Hey look, I'm working on this. This is a problem".
Now, just a quick disclaimer, the way we work is we share all of that in our standup, and we actually have a different meeting to look at those blockers. However, some companies will actually designate, say, five or 10 minutes per blocker per person. For everybody to discuss during that meeting. So that will make the standup meeting potentially a little longer, but allows everybody to kind of do everything in one hit.
We found that if we did that, things would kind of derail and the meeting would last well over an hour. And if you're doing that on a daily basis, or at least on a regular basis, that can really sap the energy of your team. So it's not something that we do.
So again, if uh, Karthi has shared a problem with his code, then probably he, I, Barath will jump on a separate call later on to take a look at that and see if we can help find a resolution. It's the, exact same with say Tim, Tim and Matt, for example, look after our social media campaigns. So if they highlight a problem, maybe with a campaign that's not performing very well, we're not all gonna brainstorm together for, uh, five or 10 minutes, because we know that it will derail and will be going on for half an hour. So, Tim, Matt, I will jump on a separate meeting and we'll discuss some potential solutions.
That's not to rule out, however, somebody throwing in a quick idea when they hear a blocker. We'll always allow, uh, at least for one or two suggestions if someone just wants to throw something in. So I've pretty much talked about what a standup meeting is. At least what it is to us. Let me share with you a little bit of practical advice from our experience.
The first one is just simply getting team buy-in, especially with the idea of a daily meeting. So we need to be able to explain the benefits such as improving communication, collaboration, productivity, all of that good stuff. Also highlighting things like, "Hey, we can, we can help you with those blockers far more effectively if we talk about it everyday".
Next one is setting expectations, being clear about what you want to achieve with those daily standup meetings and explaining the format, how long they're gonna last, when they'll take place, how they will take place, and making sure everybody understands what's expected of them. Especially warning against that derailment where what should be a relatively short and helpful meeting becomes super long.
On that, therefore, next point would be to keep it short and sweet. Remembering that the purpose of those daily standup meetings is, to be informational, quick and efficient. So if we can do it in say, 15, 20 minutes tops, that would be perfect. We don't want a monologue from each team member, we just want short and sharp.
Next would be to use a consistent format. So essentially, we've already said what the three things that people share are. What they did yesterday, what they plan to do today, and what roadblocks or challenges that they are facing. So for each and every meeting, set someone up as the meeting lead who will make sure that each and every person just does those three things and we move around the room.
Another one is to be a little bit flexible because whilst it is important to be consistent. If a team member can't attend a meeting, well then you can allow them to share their updates via email or in chat. And we have done that. Instead of jumping on a call necessarily, we will sometimes just do a quick round robin in the chat. So if team members are traveling, et cetera, this can too still be an effective way.
And I think actually from that, that segues perfectly introduced a, a couple of issues that we also faced.
First of all was resistance from team members. Only a few team members were resistant to the idea of those daily meetings essentially, cuz they felt like they were potentially a waste of time and or, or maybe they didn't feel they have had anything of value to share. Maybe they felt like they were being spied on, et cetera. So it was really important that we, explain to them the benefits of it and how we are all helping each other out. This wasn't an accountability for the management to see who's doing what and how productive people are being, but this is actually a way of us all sharing what's going on so that we can all help each other and of course, help our clients as well. We can be more productive, we can communicate more. So there was a little bit of resistance. Uh, the other idea as well was they felt like they were busy enough. They didn't also want to have this meeting thrown in, which is why we really tried to keep them as short as possible.
And the other one was a lack of participation where, um, some people didn't show up, at least at first. So we had to kind of have that extra conversation and say, "look, come on, these, these are really important. Other people are taking part. So you need to, you need to show willing and, um, get your butt on the call and participate".
Again," these are the reasons why we are doing it. Everybody else is doing it. So be a team player, give it time".
And of course that makes me think very often for me as a leader, I want to be liked. So I tend to be super nice to people, but sometimes I just have to say, "look, come on, you're on a team and everybody else is a part of this so step up". And it's okay to be like that sometimes, and this is me talking to myself, just reminding myself that I shouldn't always just be mister nice guy. I do have to have a little bit of a stamp of authority now and again.
So folks, we are coming in into land. This has been a relatively unplanned with a few bullet points. This seems to be the new format of the podcast. Please let me know if you hate this. Uh, where I just gonna chat to you about what goes on in our agency and how practically that might be helpful for you.
So let's do a quick recap. Daily standup meetings are really helpful in agencies because you can all get together in a very quick format and do a round robin around the room to discover what each person did yesterday, what they plan to do today, and what roadblocks or challenges they are facing. That will therefore allow you to set up extra meetings if need be to support each other on specific things, but it also gives you that wider, broader picture, as the agency owner as well, as to what is going on with your business, how you are getting on with projects, which means you can serve your clients better too.
We shared as well the importance of keeping them short, keeping them consistent, um, having a specific format, having a particular team lead.
And we also shared with you a couple of the issues that we face with regards to scheduling or ways you can get around that. Also getting buy-in from people and also maybe dragging those people who are dragging their heels a little into those meetings and, uh, I think eventually as they see the benefits, you'll definitely win them over.
So folks, do you do daily standup meetings or at least regular meetings in your agency? Do they help you? Check out the link in the show notes and join us on our website. There is a comment section just further down below the transcription area. Sign up, it's free. Ignore the, ignore the pay version. That's only if you want access to the discovery course. Sign up for free and come and join the conversation. And folks, if we don't see you in the comments, why don't we see you in the next episode?