Another day, another work meeting scheduled on your calendar. Except what if we told you this one would only last 15 minutes, guaranteed? You might be more interested now, right? Such meetings do exist. For instance, there’s the 15-minute stand-up meeting. What is that?
A 15-minute stand-up meeting is a work gathering in which you stand up the whole time to keep the meeting at its prescribed limit. These meetings have the following goals:
- Increasing short-term productivity
- Setting ground rules for task completion
- Sharing day-to-day or week-to-week agendas
- Addressing obstacles and challenges
- Task delegation and confirmation
In this article, we will fill you in on everything you want to know about the 15-minute stand-up meeting. From what goes into these meetings to which topics to avoid, how often to host a meeting, and the benefits, you don’t want to miss it. We’ll even tell you how to begin implementing 15-minute stand-up meetings at your own office.
As the name suggests, a 15-minute stand-up meeting is a work assembly that lasts 15 minutes. You stand up the entire time. Doing that might not sound very comfortable, but that’s the whole point.
We all get into meetings where our boss or manager says it’s going to take 10 minutes and then it meanders on for another 15, 20, sometimes even 30 or 40 minutes beyond that proposed time. If you’re truly brainstorming, planning, or getting other productive things done, then that’s okay. It’s when the meeting gets off-task with questions and catchups that you feel like you’re wasting your time.
By remaining on your feet during a 15-minute stand-up meeting, you’ll begin to feel fatigued. Your feet will hurt, your legs will ache, and you’ll want to sit down. This keeps it in everyone’s mind to curtail the meeting to only the 15 minutes.
These meetings also go by names like tag-ups, huddles, and scrums. As the bullet points above hinted at, you’re supposed to talk about very specific topics during a 15-minute stand-up meeting. You should also limit how many participants engage in the gathering. If you have more than 10 people, then that’s too many.
Without careful planning, a 15-minute stand-up meeting can easily become a 30 or 45-minute meeting that ends with some very sore feet and bad moods all around. That’s why you’re only supposed to broach certain topics during these gatherings. We touched on these during the intro, but let’s elaborate on them more now.
The keyword here really is short-term.
How productive are the workers who are involved in the meeting? What can you or others do to increase that productivity in the days and week ahead? Long-term productivity planning often involves more drawn-out conversations, so it’s not a topic to discuss during a 15-minute stand-up meeting.
Sometimes short-term productivity changes can affect the long term. If that’s not happening, then you may want to hold a much longer meeting to brainstorm what you can do for a more productive office.
If employees by chance have questions about assignments due within the next few days, now’s a good time to discuss them. You want to make sure all parties present have ground rules to follow so they can successfully complete their tasks.
These agendas should remain largely the same from one meeting to another or again, you risk making the meeting far longer than anyone would prefer. You can talk about agendas on a day-to-day basis or even a week-to-week basis if they’re uncomplicated and you can keep it brief.
What kinds of issues make it harder for employees to do their jobs well? Why have these obstacles become such a big deal? While it’s important to bring up these challenges, unless you have a quick solution, then save it for another meeting.
This has to be quick. In fact, it’s better if everyone already knows what they’re supposed to do and you use this part of the meeting to confirm those duties.
By sticking to the above talking points, you should have a successful first 15-minute stand-up meeting. At the very least, you’re proud you stuck within the recommended 15 minutes.
To continue on that good path you forged, make sure you don’t veer off-task and discuss the following points.
As we said in the prior section, talking about long-term planning can become drawn out and lengthy fast. That’s not to say you should never discuss your company’s long-term goals, plans, and projects. Obviously, it’s very important that you do. You just need more than 15 minutes for such a conversation, so please don’t make everyone stand up. They’ll get cranky quick.
If you want to confirm tasks or even assign a few to 10 employees or fewer, you can typically get that done in less than 15 minutes. Covering every single task that every single employee in the office has to do will take a while depending on the size of your company. Realistically, you’re talking about a meeting that’s at least an hour, maybe more.
So, you’ve got some exciting new projects up your sleeve. Congratulations! As hard as it is to refrain, now’s really not the time to talk about these. You have to explain way too much background, and that will chew up all your time. Before you know it, those 15 minutes will have come and gone, and you barely got into the crux of the project. Hold a longer meeting dedicated to just the new project(s). That will give you a chance to explain the project in the detail it deserves.
The same goes for if your company has decided to take on a new client or soon may. This is a time to be celebrated for sure. You also want to give your employees a lot of background on who this client is and how they may play a role in the company going forward. If that’s something you think you can do thoroughly in 15 minutes, then you’re deceiving yourself. Just like with a new project, a topic of this nature warrants a much lengthier meeting than one where everyone’s on their feet for only 15 minutes.
Perhaps you bought a new software or set of tools that simplify or otherwise alter the way your employees do their jobs. If you only talk about this for a minute or two during your huddle, you’re going to cause confusion and even panic among your employees. They’re not going to have a clear understanding of the new system and demand information from you.
You’d need to introduce the changes, explain the software/tools, maybe even do a live demo, and then share a timeline for software deployment. That sort of thing should take several hours, maybe even an afternoon. It’s not the time nor the place for a 15-minute meeting.
That’s also true if you’re making changes to your company’s code of conduct. Whether you upgrade the dress code or alter the smartphone policy, it’s unfair to spend a minute or two tops on this and then move on to other pressing matters. Your employees will undoubtedly have questions, and that alone can take an hour or two to answer them all. There’s no way to have a meeting of this nature in 15 minutes. It’s better not to try.
After reading the above two sections, 15-minute stand-up meetings sound stressful to you. Do they really have any benefit? Indeed, they do. Here’s an overview of the myriad of perks your company could enjoy.
When everyone in the meeting knows what work they’re doing, when it’s due, and what it will do for the company, they develop shared goals. These goals make the company a more cohesive unit since everyone is working towards one thing rather than a slew of smaller, singular goals.
You know the old saying about nipping something in the bud, right? With 15-minute stand-up meetings, you can do just that. These meetings let you see what’s potentially wrong with the company or becoming wrong. You can then address and then tackle this problem head-on before it festers and grows (although preferably not in 15 minutes, as we said).
The quick exchange of information increases each participant’s knowledge of what’s going on in their company and the duties required to keep a business running successfully.
If your company feels like a handful of individuals rather than a whole, then begin hosting 15-minute stand-up meetings. These quickfire brainstorm sessions naturally call for more teamwork than other types of meetings. Your employees will work together, eventually collaborating seamlessly.
If your company did begin having 15-minute stand-up meetings, what’s the norm? Should you host one every day? Once a month? Somewhere in between?
Actually, lots of companies aim to have these meetings two times every week. You might start and end the week with a stand-up meeting. This way, the time in between is the employees’ to achieve the goals laid out. If they by chance don’t do that, you can address it at the week-end meeting and work harder for the following week.
Okay, so you’ve decided you want to host your first 15-minute stand-up meeting for your employees. You’re just not sure how it’s going to work, at least not yet.
Make sure you keep these tips in mind as you prepare for the meeting:
1. Create a meeting format that you will generally stick to each time. You may begin with a pertinent topic, then move on to performance reviews, success stories, challenges for the day/week, and project delegation. It’s up to you to come up with a format that’s agreeable to your employees but try to stay close to it with each meeting.
2. Choose the same days and times for the stand-up meeting every week. This way, it becomes burned in employees’ brains that they have this commitment at X time.
3. Send out recurring meeting invites anyway.
4. Don’t start late, as that puts a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.
5. Keep everyone standing, as that’s the point of the meeting.
6. While it’s best if employees leave their electronics behind for 15 minutes, you do need some means of timing yourself, at least at first. Whether that’s the timer on your smartphone or even a traditional kitchen timer, get into the habit of timing yourself for a while. When you’re in the middle of a meeting, you can really lose track of 15 minutes. The timer will remind you it’s time to wrap up.
7. End the meeting on time. The benefits of these 15-minute meetings start to degrade the longer you make people wait around.
8. Know that mistakes happen and plan for them. For instance, maybe you covered a topic that’s too involved and you didn’t get all the way through your agenda because of it. You could then plan a bonus meeting to cover the topics you missed. Like anything, there will be some kinks to work out at first, but these will disappear with time.
Can you do stand-up meetings that are shorter than 15 minutes? Sure, you can. Some companies prefer their scrum meetings to last between five and 10 minutes. You can follow this if you prefer but do know that time is even tighter here. If you’re having a hard time staying on-task during 15-minute meetings, you’ll find 10 minutes or even five minutes passes by in like a second.
Are stand-up meetings a waste of time? If you go into your stand-up meeting disorganized, planning to talk about way too much, and not having an agenda, then yes, it is a waste of time. You need to be willing to put the work into these meetings to make them productive affairs.
Even if you try and fail at stand-up meetings, you’re wasting 15 minutes of employee time compared to hours. Make sure you read the tips above though to improve your chances at success!
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