The Daily Stand-up Call
Tips for motiviating the team
18 September 2017
During one of our stand-up meetings, my team members were shocked to hear another member say, “I don’t have any updates, I didn’t accomplish anything yesterday, and I don’t know what I will be working on today.” The whole team stared at me, as the ScrumMaster, looking for my reaction. I immediately thanked the team member for being honest and told him to pick up the next high-priority user story in the backlog.
Here are a few tips that have helped me over the years in facilitating the stand-up call.
Change the questions
The industry standard is to ask three questions: What did I do yesterday? What will I do today? Are there any impediments or roadblocks? We can revamp this a bit and ask the team: What did I accomplish yesterday? What do I plan on accomplishing today? Are there any impediments or roadblocks? These questions could help team members think about the value they add toward achieving the sprint goal.
Keep the team focused
The focus of the team should be completing their user stories, meeting their sprint goals, and having working software. For example, building a house can be classified as an accomplishment — the buying of raw materials, such as cement, water, and fencing can be categorized as tasks. Therefore, it is important for team members to understand what the company is trying to accomplish (building a house) by executing the project. All team members are stakeholders in the project, and the successful execution of the project lies with all of us.
Create a roster
To ensure that I have an orderly stand-up and eliminate the confusion caused by team members stepping on each other’s words, I created a roster. The roster contains the team members’ names in alphabetical order, starting with their last names, and I share this with the team. This roster made it a lot easier for me to facilitate the call, especially with my offshore teams. This approach helped save time by eliminating the need to call each team member’s name during the stand-up. Also, we took profile pictures and sent them to each team periodically so that the team could put names to faces. This exercise helped build the team.
The stand-up call creates transparency among team members. Apart from discussing tasks, I also encourage my team members to provide their plans for vacation and personal time off during the stand-up call. This helps with resource allocation and avoids any last-minute risk associated with assigning a task to a team member who will not be in the office because he or she is on vacation.
Maintain and update tools
The ScrumMaster must ensure that team members maintain and update daily issue and project tracking software, such as Jira, TFS, and Rally.
Make the 15-minute stand-up call fun
One of the ways I facilitate a fun stand-up call is by asking a team member to come up with a word for the day or week. We rotate this among team members so that everyone has an opportunity to come up with a word. We then try to incorporate the word of the day in our updates during the stand-up meeting.
Another way to inject some fun is to celebrate birthdays. We have the day and month of each team member stored on our SharePoint site. We make it a point to sing and celebrate each member on their birthday.
Other fun activities include singing a short song each Friday. We nominate a team member to sing a song based on how their week went or what they have planned for the weekend. We interpret a sad song as the team member had a very difficult week and a happy song as the member had a very good week.
All of these activities are important to energize and motivate the team.
In conclusion, one of the first principles of the Agile Manifesto is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software. I believe that a happy team will eventually produce a product that will satisfy the customer.
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