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A guide on Stand-ups and Retrospectives

Luisa Syed 01 Oct 05:40 4 min read
people standing around a desk

A Stand-up and retrospective can be a useful and efficient way to conduct meetings, and we strongly recommend considering them for your business.

In this guide, we will look at Stand-ups and Retrospective - What they are and how to run them effectively.

Stand-ups

Meetings are usually known to last for an hour or longer, but some companies have been incorporating Stand-ups instead of traditionally conducted meetings.

What are Stand-ups?

Stand-ups are short meetings carried out amongst team members whilst standing. Due to the nature of stand-ups being conducted on foot, they last no longer than 15 minutes. During these meetings, team members typically discuss anything work-related, such as what they are working on, what they have completed, if they will start something new or any problems they have. Stand-ups are helpful and efficient and essentially beneficial if carried out correctly.

How to run a daily Stand-up?

A traditional stand-up meeting should be conducted at the same place and time - we recommend starting the meeting at the beginning of the day or shift so that everyone is updated, and if anyone had any impediments, they could get them solved right away. The meeting should last a maximum of 15 minutes, but it can be less depending on the team size. With stand-up meetings being very brief, so should be the context, and the discussion is usually focused on three questions:

  • What did I accomplish yesterday?
  • What will I do today?
  • Are there any obstacles that are impeding my progress?

These questions will help team members know if they are on the right track to complete their sprint goal and help each other if anyone is facing any impediments. Once everyone had their turn, they can get on with their work.

Virtual & Text Standup

Stand-up meetings do not have to be strictly conducted in person. With the ongoing pandemic, many employers and employees are still working remotely or have switched permanently to remote working. Team meetings are being conducted over video conferencing platforms, and the same can be done with Stand-ups. Virtual stand-ups are essentially the same as a traditional stand-up meeting, just without having to stand and being in the comfort of your own home. Team members can use video conferencing services (i.e. Zoom, MS Teams, Google Meet) to conduct a stand-up over video. Or even through business messaging apps (i.e. Slack, Google Chat), where team members can post their answers to a dedicated stand-up channel or group chat.

What to do and not do during a Stand-up:

  • Make sure to start the meeting at the same scheduled time and do not wait for late team members.
  • The meeting should always be at the same place (if not conducted virtually).
  • Try not to go over the 15-minute time limit, so discuss only relevant points; as time is limited, it should not be wasted on unrelated topics.
  • Gather a small team, as it could take longer than 15 minutes to complete the stand-up then.
  • It should be emphasised that if anyone wants to discuss further, to do so after the stand-up has finished - this should also include any discussions regarding additional help needed for impediments. 
  • Make sure you listen to your team members.
  • Decide on the order of who should start first. The team leader could start, then the first Or last person who arrived, and so on.
  • Don’t be late and don’t skip! You might end up missing out on valuable information.

What is a retrospective?

A retrospective is a meeting carried out after a sprint has been completed or generally at the end of the week, and it is a time for team members to reflect on past events or completed tasks. It is essential to receive feedback from every team member on how the team can improve their performance. These meetings are usually an hour-long or more per week, depending on the sprint length. During a retrospective team members discuss the following points:

  • What went well?
  • What could be improved?
  • How will it be improved?

These points help team members to stay updated, evaluate and reflect.

How to run a retrospective?

  • Carry out a retrospective after completing a sprint or at the end of the week.
  • Schedule an appropriate time for the retrospective that works for all team members.
  • Team members should gather in the same place or use a retrospective online tool (i.e. Trello).
  • Have an order ready of who should go first.
  • Every team member should provide comments and feedback.
  • Towards the end of the retrospective, team members should have a list of improvements for their next sprint.

Overall a stand-up and retrospective is an effective and efficient way to conduct meetings, and we strongly recommend introducing them to your team meetings.

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