The Daily Standup

An Opportunity to Build Trust and Provide Transparency

In the day-to-day hustle and bustle of any busy organization, there are not many options to build rapport with your staff. Even in relatively small organizations, managers and supervisors can find themselves isolated in their offices or cubes and disconnected from their staff. While the daily standup has come from the tenants of Agile software development, I have leveraged the standup as an opportunity to identify issues and risk. But more importantly, it’s an opportunity for communication with staff about work and more personal matters.

Get Out of the Ivory Tower

I believe isolation is an issue many managers struggle to overcome. This can be physical or emotional isolation from their staff. The daily standup provides an opportunity to engage with staff on many levels. Most importantly, it is an opportunity to come to them.

I am fortunate in my work environment that my direct reports all sit in one area on the floor.  At 9:15, I walk about thirty feet out of my office into their space and we go around the circle.  On average, we go about ten minutes, but it has gone as long as twenty. The important part is that I have come to them and am working in their space. I think this builds an element of respect and trust.

Keep Things ‘Lite’

While a standup should definitely be used to identify daily risks and issues presented to the team, there is a lot of value in keeping the time fun and lite. Plato said, “You can learn more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” These 10-15 minutes daily can really provide you as manager an opportunity to gain insight into what your staff values.

I am a natural storyteller, so I like this opportunity to tell a personal story that shows that I am human. Too often, managers are seen as devoid of emotion and lacking transparency into work and life matters. In the end, we are all human and by keeping things lite, I feel I connect better with my staff.

An Opportunity for Praise and Feedback

“Give praise in public; offer criticism behind closed doors.” While I don’t provide direct positive feedback during every standup, I do try to make a consistent effort to do it often. In particular, I try and outline the group accomplishments – specifically how we are successful when we work across our organizational boundaries. Most efforts are not accomplished in a vacuum. As a competitive athlete and member of the ski patrol, I have really learned to value team work and strength in numbers.

Putting it All Together

In the end, I just can’t imagine my day without the daily standup. I value the opportunity it provides me and my staff to connect with each other. While I know this concept is prominent in the technology space, I would argue there is opportunity for a daily standup within any type of business space. I encourage you to put one in place and see how it works for you and your team.

Garrett Dunwoody is part of the GovLoop Featured Contributor program, where we feature articles by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Contributor posts, click here.

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Steph Drahozal

“Give praise in public; offer criticism behind closed doors.” – I couldn’t agree with that statement more!

Donna Villareal

Thanks for sharing these practical and thoughtful ideas. We often under-estimate the effect of being physically present to each other.

Joyce tabb

Give praise and appreciation behind closed doors too. A “thank you” every now and then will do especially when you have gone beyond the norm.
The managers and supervisors can find themselves isolated in their offices or cubes and disconnected from their staff. This is in my department and the manager office is less than 5 steps outside the cubicles. In two years she has been at my desk maybe 5 times. How do I address that because it does bother me?

Garrett Dunwoody

I would propose that you could take leadership on this matter and see if your co-workers would want to participate in a daily standup and make this suggestion to your manager. I would also make sure that you have weekly 1:1 with your manager.

Amy DeWolf

Great post. My team has a weekly (Monday) meeting and a Thursday stand up which is really used for in-person communication, fun updates, and any important questions that need to be asked/addressed. I love the part about telling stories to keep things casual and build the relationship – it’s an easy, yet important thing to do!