Leading Virtual Stand Ups

Leading Virtual Stand Up Meetings

The Daily Stand-Up or Stand-Up is baked into Agile, with the team gathering every day for a focused review of tasks. The daily team meeting is by no means limited to those formally practicing an Agile methodology, project teams across industries hold them. A time to connect with each other, to refocus on the immediate work ahead, to recognize recent success, and to address current barriers; the daily team meeting or Stand-Up is a go-to tool for project managers. And then, Covid-19 safety precautions drove companies of all types and sizes to move their workforce out of the office and into virtual collaboration; making virtual stand-ups more common.

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Appreciation for a Virtual TeamThe Daily Stand-Up is still happening, but it feels different staring at a screen instead of gathering in a collaborative space. Project Managers, regardless of methodologies practiced, need to make deliberate adjustments to their daily team meetings to ensure engagement and to foster productivity.

Stand-Up 101

At the core, a Stand-Up is when each team member provides the group with succinct answers to these questions:

  1. What did you finish?
  2. What are you working on right now?
  3. What are barriers to finishing your current work?

The purpose of the meeting is to share information about the status of tasks and work. To that end, there are certain characteristics specific to the “Stand-Up” that distinguish it from other types of meetings. Here’s the standard Stand-Up format:

  • lasts no more than 15 minutes
  • held at the same time and place every day
  • held where the work happens
  • required for all team members
  • starts on time regardless of if someone is late or out
Virtual Stand Up 1

Trainings on Agile Fundamentals and Scum Master (CSM) provide information on the daily team meeting in the specific Agile context. For any project manager, what you need to achieve is a means for the team to provide timely updates that focus on reaching identified goals.

Virtual Stand-Up Challenges and Solutions

It may seem sacrilegious to some, but I will say it anyway: meeting in person does not guarantee your Daily Standup has value. We all have experienced that meeting where behind the smiles people are thinking “seriously, I have so much work to do, why are we doing this?” Scheduling a meeting does not automatically meantime is well spent, whether in person or virtually.

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Very specific to this moment in time is that the greatest challenge with the virtual daily stand up is that your team members’ lives are impacted daily by factors outside of work: balancing kids in school in the next room, battling the fatigue of staring at the webcam for hours on end, caring for sick family members during quarantine, and experiencing stress from societal issues and changes.

Let us use our Project Management expertise to do some Risk Mitigation focused on Virtual Stand-Ups.

Virtual Stand Up 2

How to Stand Up an Effective Stand-Up

Fortunately, much of what makes for an effective Stand-Up applies whether your team is in person or virtual. The PMI.org article “Stand and Deliver: How Do You Ensure Concise and Targeted Responses at Status Update Meetings?” shares these recommendations from other project managers:

  • rules of engagement
  • setting the tone
  • keep it simple
  • mitigate distractions
  • culture of precision

When you are meeting exclusively in virtual settings, you should also consider your presentation presence. Ask yourself: are you connecting with your “studio audience”? are you modeling the behavior needed of others? One of the most powerful tools you have as a project manager in leading update or Stand-Up meetings is leading by example. Be the team member you want everyone to be so that together you can meet your goals.

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Author profile
Megan Bell
Megan Bell
Project Manager & Writer at Project Management Academy
Megan Bell