14 Ways to Be More Efficient During Weekly Standup Meetings

07/26/2016 10:54 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Regularly scheduled meetings can be important to company-wide communication, but if ineffectively planned, they can also become a poor use of employees' time. As you plan your upcoming standups, consider these tactics so that the meetings are more than team members just reporting updates for the sake of it.

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A. Set an Agenda

Send an agenda in advance that will focus everyone's updates on how they are solving a timely issue or supporting a strategic initiative. This gives everyone a chance to prepare questions for other areas of the business and helps everyone see where their efforts fit into the big picture. - Chuck Cohn, Varsity Tutors

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A. Email the Update Beforehand

Maximize your and your employees' time by having them email their updates in a bullet point format, and review it before your standup. They likely already have it written down. It should quickly detail what's been done, what's outstanding, what didn't work and any blockages they're facing. Then use your time to give praise, obtain their feedback and communicate expectations for the path forward. - Andrew Thomas, SkyBell Doorbell

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A. Update at the Department Level Only

At our weekly, company-wide Monday meeting, we only do department updates, not individual updates. Individual updates are done in daily or weekly team meetings, where the information is more relevant to everyone listening. This is something we had to modify as our company grew; once we crossed 15 people it became too long to listen to updates from everyone at the company. - Laura Roeder, MeetEdgar.com

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A. Focus on the Tangible

Require your direct reports to state something they learned last week, the No. 1 challenge they're currently facing, and something they're grateful for. Focusing on tangible lessons and examples will make the meeting more meaningful and less perfunctory. - Sean Kelly, SnackNation

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A. Report on What Affects Others

Ask everyone to only report on the work they are doing that directly impacts other members of the team. Setting expectations, like "I'm not going to have that to you until the afternoon," will help everyone on the team prioritize how they are structuring their day. Everyone wants to optimize their time, and this allows everyone to get a birds-eye view of how the week or day will be laid out. - Kim Kaupe, ZinePak

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A. Focus on Lessons Learned

Rather than focusing on the tasks someone has done or will do, focus the conversation on "lessons learned" from the previous day or week. These lessons should expose any issues or gaps within the company and opportunities for improvement, both at the company level and individual employee level. - Ross Beyeler, Growth Spark

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A. Tie Your Standups to Your Strategic Plan

Everyone at the weekly standup needs to report on how what they're working on ties in with a goal or strategy in your plan and helps the company move forward. Tying their tasks to the strategies in your plan keeps the focus on how what you do impacts your company's bottom line. - Nicole Munoz, Start Ranking Now

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A. Share Successes and Challenges

The best way to increase productivity is to have employees quickly review their biggest success and biggest challenge since the last meeting. This encourages people to think in terms of benchmarks and strategy. It also encourages them to strive for a successful report during the week and think through a challenge ahead of time. It helps the team get a deeper update. - Vanessa Van Edwards, Science of People

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A. Set Key Performance Indicators

KPIs aren't just for businesses, they're a great tool for employees too. Rather than having your team report every single thing they're doing, have them use KPIs to report how those efforts affected your firm overall. This not only cuts down on meeting time but helps your employees set the right goals and prioritize correctly. - Elle Kaplan, LexION Capital

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A. Give Them the Opportunity to Opt Out

Obviously, they can't decide to skip out every week, but if they honestly have nothing to add because they've already updated people, then I don't think it's necessary to force them to report in. Instead, they could get work done and share that at the next update meeting. - Drew Hendricks, Buttercup

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A. Make Sure Every Weekly Standup is not About Reporting

If we all know that we are up-to-date on projects, I use weekly standups to ask a question that everyone answers and provides an opinion or idea on. It can be something related to work or an area where they would like to see some improvement or more help. To make it fun, I ask them for an update on what they are doing outside of work or about what they've learned. - Murray Newlands, Due.com

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A. Have Fewer Standups

Standups can be valuable, but if employees are simply reporting for the sake of reporting, neither they nor the business are seeing any benefit. In my experience, the most useful communication happens between employees in chat channels or ad-hoc in-person conversations. Implement systems that allow employees to submit updates in Slack, and don't force formal meetings with no real purpose. - Vik Patel, Future Hosting

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A. Focus on Coordination Across Teams

My different teams work pretty well internally, so I like to use our weekly meetings to coordinate between them instead of having each member repeat something that their own team already knows and other teams can't use. Team leaders tend to do the most talking in these meetings. - Matt Doyle, Excel Builders

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A. Use Geekbot

Geekbot is the first ever slackbot assistant that helps you set up real asynchronous stand-up meetings inside Slack. Geekbot seamlessly creates a standup meeting with the members of your team by answering a set of questions that the bot then posts to a channel. This allows for a non-intrusive process that helps your team stay focused on the real tasks. - Anthony Pezzotti, Knowzo.com

These answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.