5 minutes every morning that will transform your team's communication

 

I like to get on with things rather than talk about them so I’ve never been a fan of planning or meetings. That all changed with the “stand up”. It’s a meeting format that is really quick, productive and is brilliant for team communication.

Here’s how we do it at Clear Books and why.

Quick Update
The purpose of the “stand up” is to give a quick update about what you achieved yesterday and what you are working on today. It takes no more than a minute each and is an excellent way to find out what everyone is working on.

Same Time
Do it at the same time every day. Getting into a routine makes it second nature. At Clear Books we do ours at 10am although we used to do it at 4pm. It works much better in the morning because it sets up the plan of action for the day and is less disruptive first thing.

Stand Up
The meeting is done standing up in a circle. Standing up ensures it’s a really quick meeting. If something comes up that needs to be discussed in more detail it can be explored separately.

Last Person
The last person to join the huddle starts the meeting. Before we introduced this idea there was an awkwardness waiting for someone to volunteer. Now everyone knows the drill and starting the meeting is automatic.

Mascot
We used to have an awkward moment acknowledging that someone had finished speaking, when the next person should start and indeed who the next person should be. We introduced a really simple system to solve this.

Whoever is speaking holds a mascot (ok it’s a cuddly toy) which indicates it’s their turn to speak. When they are finished speaking they they pass the mascot clockwise round the circle to the next person. This is a really good way of showing that someone has finished and the next person should start.  

Tell a Joke
To wrap up the meeting the last person to speak sends the team off with a joke.

It might sound a bit of a scripted process but it’s not. It’s seamless, easy, useful, quick and something you have to try!

Original Source: 5 minutes every morning that will transform your team's communication

Comments
Old Greying Accountant's picture

This could be deemed ...    2 thanks

Old Greying Acc... | | Permalink

... work place bullying for introverts.

I can think of nothing worse to send my blood pressure and stress levels through the roof.

You may find this great, but the 50% of us who are introverts will find it demotivational, and I think it would be a good way to increase either lateness or going home early "sick" (depending on the timing) I don't necessarily mean for your business, if all your team are happy with it, all well and good, but I mean more in general.

I am sure a large number of Aweb readers have broken in to a cold sweat reading this and are now praying hard the boss doesn't read this and think it a good idea!

Team working suits some, others would prefer a quiet one to one with the boss to discuss these matters, and not have to do it in public. If they need to liaise with a team member then they would do it on a needs basis.

The other demotivator would be that some are of a disposition such that if they are behind for whatever reason, and everyone else is saying how much they have achieved and how ahead they are, they would become depressed, stressed and feel under even more pressure than at present.

EDIT

No I'm sorry, re-reading - is this a business, or a creche - sounds more like Lord of the Flies, and look what happened there!

Ok, that's me done - who wants the conch now, I'm off to make fun of Piggy?

Look at me how clever I am    1 thanks

EYRN | | Permalink

I agree with the above member, this sounds like a charter for big heads to boast about how wonderful they are while anyone who is a little behind with a task is made to appear a failure.

I can think of no quicker way to destroy a business.

 

Flash Gordon's picture

I'm so with OGA    2 thanks

Flash Gordon | | Permalink

I'd be starting really early in the day so I could be finished and out the door before 10am! (I hate late starts)

It takes me back to school where we had to read around the class. I never took in any of what we were reading because I'd be panicking about having to read beforehand and recovering afterwards.

I'm all for communication but there are other ways than subjecting people to torture. How about an email - everyone emails one person with their update at the end of the day, these get cut and pasted into one big email which gets sent out to all. Or a stand up meeting but where there's a written update in advance and then you ask questions if you need to.

A joke at the end? Really? Ho ho ho.

My contribution to your meeting would be as follows (with stammering and blushing and assuming I'd turned up) - 'Erm, well, er, I spent yesterday trying to think up a joke in case I was last in here. That took me all day. And as I was late because I overslept due to not being able to drop off at the regular time from worrying about this meeting I'm having to tell you my stupid and not at all funny joke (but please god let someone laugh at it and not at me) which means that I'll have to spend the rest of today recovering before trying to think of another joke for tomorrow. And as I'll be panicking about that tonight guess what, I'll be late again tomorrow. Oh and I apologise but I appear to have twisted the head off this cuddly toy in my sheer terror at having to speak in front of people'

Then I'd be trying to find a quiet corner to ring the doctor for an appointment to try and get signed off long enough to find a new job.

Think I'm kidding? No not really. I left my first job because they decided it would be a great idea to get the then junior (moi) to answer the phone one afternoon a week in an open-plan office. I had to rearrange my study leave to take that day off each week to give me enough time to find a new job.

God I hate extroverts sometimes!

 

timfouracre's picture

I'll take the conch because it works for us

timfouracre | | Permalink

It works in our industry, perhaps it isn't suited to you or yours. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stand-up_meeting

If I am behind in a task should I hide away or ask for help? Am I really going to boast in front of all my colleagues and my boss? It would take an extreme extrovert to do that and the rest of the team would think they were an idiot.

Our team is 20 strong. How do you ensure excellent communication? How do you ensure everyone is aware what is happening in the business? Are your colleagues working on similar projects to you and do they need help your help or you theirs? Has someone completed a project and deserves recognition? Is a feature nearly finished by the developers and do marketing need to promote it? How many new customers did we have last week? 

As a boss I don't want to be the only figure in my company who knows what is going on. I want my whole team to be fully up to speed.

For the record, I would class myself as an introvert. Sometimes when you face your fears and do things a couple of times, it isn't as daunting as you first thought. 

 

 

timfouracre's picture

Emails

timfouracre | | Permalink

Flash Gordon wrote:

I'm all for communication but there are other ways than subjecting people to torture. How about an email - everyone emails one person with their update at the end of the day, these get cut and pasted into one big email which gets sent out to all. Or a stand up meeting but where there's a written update in advance and then you ask questions if you need to.

It's a good idea although I think email lends itself better to a summary of the week. The thing about email is it's inefficient, gets read at different times and is sometimes ignored (especially if it was hitting your inbox every day).

timfouracre's picture

jokes

timfouracre | | Permalink

Flash Gordon wrote:

A joke at the end?

Yes, or wish everyone a good day. There are no hard and fast rules. Do whatever you like. You need something to wrap up the meeting.

I don't have any good jokes so I just thank everyone for attending. 

Flash Gordon's picture

It's not an industry thing

Flash Gordon | | Permalink

It's a personality thing. I'm sure there are plenty of accountancy practices that would be fine with it. But as a serious introvert it would be hell for me. And it wouldn't matter if I did it every day for a year, it would still be hell.

I'm guessing that in your team of 20 there is probably at least one introvert who is hating every minute but trying to pretend otherwise for the sake of their job (because sadly that's what you have to do when you're surrounded by people who don't listen if you try and say anything about it)

Introverts can ask for help but many of them won't ask in front of 20 people. So they'll pretend and struggle on.

And I'm to give up on this thread here because I'm hammering the keyboard and starting MY day off badly.

But a joke to finish: Q - what do you call a boss who treats everyone as identical instead of as an individual? A - insert your own answer here, mine wouldn't be polite and I've left you behind with your cuddly toy

Old Greying Accountant's picture

OK ...    1 thanks

Old Greying Acc... | | Permalink

timfouracre wrote:

It works in our industry, perhaps it isn't suited to you or yours. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stand-up_meeting

If I am behind in a task should I hide away or ask for help?

Ask for help, but with good management/team leadership that shouldn't happen, or you go to your boss/manager and ask for it

Am I really going to boast in front of all my colleagues and my boss?

Many would

It would take an extreme extrovert to do that and the rest of the team would think they were an idiot.

Our team is 20 strong. How do you ensure excellent communication?

You talk to the relevent person at the relevant time, if you are interlinked with 20 people simultaneously that is not efficient working, studies I saw last week showed deling with tasks in a linear manner is more effective tham trying to deal with many simultaneously (can't remember the source).

How do you ensure everyone is aware what is happening in the business?

Do I care, that is a diversion from my goals and objectives. of course it matter that i still have a job, by an e-mail newletter or similar would suffice.

Are your colleagues working on similar projects to you and do they need help your help or you theirs?

As I said you ask for help on a needs basis, cluttering your head with superfluous information is pointless

Has someone completed a project and deserves recognition?

Ditto, is it a creche, "Oh look little Johnny's drawn a cow, isn't he clever"! It really is dumbing down isn't it - shock horror, someone has done the job they are paid for!!

Is a feature nearly finished by the developers and do marketing need to promote it?

Then they should be talking, everyone else doesn't need to know.

How many new customers did we have last week? 

Surely that is one for a summary e-mail, or the company intranet notice board, so if people care they can read it, if not they can get on with their job

As a boss I don't want to be the only figure in my company who knows what is going on. I want my whole team to be fully up to speed.

That just diverts them from their task, in my view more efficient to just deal with what people need to at the point they need it, and not junk them up with unecessary clutter - seems like you are seeking praise and attention rather than any real point to it - again, e-mail or intranet notice would do as well.

For the record, I would class myself as an introvert. Sometimes when you face your fears and do things a couple of times, it isn't as daunting as you first thought. 

From your response, if you are an introvert, you are very close to the centre line. Introversion isn't shyness, it is a way of seeing the world.

Again, studies show the best ideas come from hose you sit quietly in a corner thinking things through, than meetings where people get swept along by the one who shouts loudest. 

But, if it works for you and your business, and everyone is happy with it fine, but you will never know, expecially in a recession, as no one is going to go to the boss and say I really hate the way we work here as they have a family and mortgage to finance!

Not against this per se, but do not liked it being evangalised as the best thing since sliced bread as for many it is not (and personally I prefer an un-cut loaf and a bread knife)!

 

timfouracre's picture

Listening

timfouracre | | Permalink

The bigger point here is that communication is more about listening to others than what you have to say. Listening to what 19 other team members are doing is the key benefit to the stand up meeting.

The stand up meeting is just one tool used to aid communication. It's the one that we use to get the team together. The shorter your input the better because it's meant to be a snappy meeting. Yesterday morning my input was - 'I am writing some blog posts today'. 10 seconds. Done.

Other tools include 1 to 1, instant chat, email, speaking in confidence and asking any team leader or colleague for help throughout the day. 

Communication isn't just one team meeting at the beginning of the day. It's happening throughout the day in different ways.

Old Greying Accountant's picture

Exactly ...    1 thanks

Old Greying Acc... | | Permalink

... for some it makes them feel warm and cosy and part of a team, others would rather spend the time productively getting on with their job.

As Flash says, we are all individuals and to some team meetings are counterproductive and in my view best avoided as they will cause stress and resentment whether compulsory (to those who don't want to be there) or voluntary (to those thinking why aren't X, Y and Z here).

timfouracre's picture

There is no I in Team

timfouracre | | Permalink

If people only cared about their own focus and found 5 minutes in the morning to meet with colleagues a diversion then that would be a big worry for me.

If you have a corporate, self interested, blame culture then a stand up meeting could be horrific.

Communication starts with culture.

Bet

EYRN | | Permalink

I bet if you held a secret ballot of your 20 staff, more than half would say the meetings are a waste of time, not enjoyed, and something they tolerate only because they are afraid to speak out.

 

I agree ....    1 thanks

B Roberts | | Permalink

timfouracre wrote:

Communication starts with culture.

I agree with the above statement.

This approach clearly works for you, although it is also clear that it does not work for everyone.

The advantage that you have as a new start up is that you have recruited a whole new company, and recruited people who fit into the type of culture that you want to build (I am assuming young, extrovert, pro-active, energetic etc.).

This kind of thing is much more difficult to introduce into an existing team that will contain a variety of different personality types, ages, experience, needs/wants etc.

Communication

B Roberts | | Permalink

B Roberts wrote:

timfouracre wrote:

Communication starts with culture.

I agree with the above statement in that the type of communication needs to be in alignment with the culture.

This approach clearly works for you, although it is also clear that it does not work for everyone.

The advantage that you have as a new start up is that you have recruited a whole new company, and recruited people who fit into the type of culture that you want to build (I am assuming young, extrovert, pro-active, energetic etc.).

This kind of thing is much more difficult to introduce into an existing team that will contain a variety of different personality types, ages, experience, needs/wants etc.

timfouracre's picture

Fair summary

timfouracre | | Permalink

 

B Roberts wrote:

I agree with the above statement.

This approach clearly works for you, although it is also clear that it does not work for everyone.

The advantage that you have as a new start up is that you have recruited a whole new company, and recruited people who fit into the type of culture that you want to build (I am assuming young, extrovert, pro-active, energetic etc.).

This kind of thing is much more difficult to introduce into an existing team that will contain a variety of different personality types, ages, experience, needs/wants etc.

That's a very fair summary.

Old Greying Accountant's picture

It is not about blame culture ...    1 thanks

Old Greying Acc... | | Permalink

... but if marketing are doing their job that is all I need to know, and a weekly update is fine.

Introverts would be diverted, they tend to be single minded and just want to focus on what they do.

We need people like that, tunnel visioned and focused - that is where the progress is made. They need the exrtroverts around them clearing the space to work, we need both, neither way is wrong or right.

Pure research has a need for single minded drive, it has no need fopr progress reports, team meetings and back slapping sessions - it just needs to be allowed to go where it will - many vitally important discoveries have been made by pure chance from letting curiosity have free reign.

To my mind obsessive introspection, briefings and updates curb creativity rather than nurture - for those of the introspective persuasion at least.

My day starts in the shower in the morning as I start to think about the day ahead, on the drive to the office I start focusing on the nitty gritty of what needs doing so when I get to the office I am raring to get behind my desk and crack on. Yes standing around for five minutes would to a degree loosen my focus and divert me from my mental task list unless it was directly relevant to what I needed to do.

I would question any value that cold be gained from 5 minutes for 20 people, 15 seconds each! Far better for to do a sensible session once a week on a Monday morning, have we resolved all problems from last week, any problems anticipated this week - any crtitical problems obviously having been dealt with as and when.

Why 10am though, or is that when you start. At 10am I could be half way through a complex piece of work and having to break off for five minutes of inanity would seriously irk me, and is a waste of company time as it could then easily take 20 - 30 minutes to pick thethreads up and get back to where I was.

Again though, I am not saying your way has no merits, and for many it may be the best thing - I am just putting the view that for some that is not a useful or beneficial way of working, and often the opposite.

My personal preference is for exception reporting. Just have a policy that I will be in the meeting room at 9am (or whenever start of business is) to discuss any issues. If a whole team meeting is requested then send an e-mail the night before (or first thing), or is you want a gimick have a red flag or something to put just inside the door so people know to go to the meeting room before starting work.

Old Greying Accountant's picture

Arsenal are a great team ...

Old Greying Acc... | | Permalink

... but they don't win anything because they have no "I" in their team.

timfouracre's picture

Bet accepted

timfouracre | | Permalink

 

EYRN wrote:

I bet if you held a secret ballot of your 20 staff, more than half would say the meetings are a waste of time, not enjoyed, and something they tolerate only because they are afraid to speak out.

Bet accepted. I'm genuinely interested in the result. I don't want to have a stand up meeting just because "I" think it's beneficial. 

Communication, feedback, improvement are important at Clear Books.

I sent a Google survey to my team. The answers were anonymous. Choice was Yes/No. 

  • Are stand up meetings a waste of time? 100% said No.
  • Do you tolerate stand ups only because you are afraid to speak out? 100% said No.
  • Do you enjoy stand up meetings? 80% said Yes.

 

Old Greying Accountant's picture

I would also argue ...    1 thanks

Old Greying Acc... | | Permalink

... talking doesn't equal communication.

It is a bit like the boy who cried wolf. If you've got into a rut of blah blah blah every day, someything important is likely to be missed.

To quote your point above,

"Yesterday morning my input was - 'I am writing some blog posts today'. 10 seconds. Done"

What the heck was the point, how has that helped anyone with anything, what value has it added to anything - you haven't even said what about and why - that may have had some merit!

No wonder the country's going down the pan if our businesses are being run like infant schools classes.

Old Greying Accountant's picture

I would call that a rigged ballot ...    1 thanks

Old Greying Acc... | | Permalink

timfouracre wrote:

EYRN wrote:

I bet if you held a secret ballot of your 20 staff, more than half would say the meetings are a waste of time, not enjoyed, and something they tolerate only because they are afraid to speak out.

Bet accepted. I'm genuinely interested in the result. I don't want to have a stand up meeting just because "I" think it's beneficial. 

Communication, feedback, improvement are important at Clear Books.

I sent a Google survey to my team. The answers were anonymous. Choice was Yes/No. 

  • Are stand up meetings a waste of time? 100% said No.
  • Do you tolerate stand ups only because you are afraid to speak out? 100% said No.
  • Do you enjoy stand up meetings? 80% said Yes.

... without the option of sometimes!

Also, IT people probably know better than any that you can retrace digital footprints back to the vote!

Better to have the 3 answers scaled 1 - 10!

I would also be worried that 4 of my 20 staff were being forced to endure a daily ritual they did not enjoy.

timfouracre's picture

Writing blog posts

timfouracre | | Permalink

 

Old Greying Accountant wrote:

"Yesterday morning my input was - 'I am writing some blog posts today'. 10 seconds. Done"

What the heck was the point, how has that helped anyone with anything, what value has it added to anything - you haven't even said what about and why - that may have had some merit!

The point? That's easy to answer.

I write the blog posts, I don't publish them. One of the girls in our marketing team syndicates the content, checks them over and publishes them on our own website and here on AccountingWeb. She also keeps tabs on how many articles we have stored up to publish. In fact, I was writing articles because we only had one left so she had prompted me to write some more. She now knows some more are coming, today. Communication.

The rest of the team know that I am writing throughout the day. By implication they know what I am not doing i.e. not in meetings with partners, prospects etc. They know they will be able to get hold of me today because I will be sat at my desk. They also know I will be approachable today to give feedback if my help is needed because I am writing and it's not intensive work.

They may simply be interested to know what the boss is doing.

I don't think that 10s of information shared with the team is a waste of time at all.

Horses for courses    1 thanks

B Roberts | | Permalink

Staff management, team building etc. is very subjective - what works for one person in one culture may not work for another person in another culture.

Just because this culture would not siut you as an individual does not mean that it is wrong.

This approach works for Clearbooks and they are building a very successful business. As such we therefore cannot ask them to justify or change their approach just because a bunch of accountants from the internet may disagree ! 

Old Greying Accountant's picture

My point exactly ...    1 thanks

Old Greying Acc... | | Permalink

B Roberts wrote:

Staff management, team building etc. is very subjective - what works for one person in one culture may not work for another person in another culture.

Just because this culture would not siut you as an individual does not mean that it is wrong.

This approach works for Clearbooks and they are building a very successful business. As such we therefore cannot ask them to justify or change their approach just because a bunch of accountants from the internet may disagree ! 

... I have said that repeatedly - if it works for you fine, but don't go all Billy Graham on me.

It is all about tone, an introvert will say this is what we do and it works for us, not this is what we do and everyone should be doing it too. this is my point, a subtle but big difference in ways of communicating ideas - suggestion as opposed to prescription.

Besides anything, this sort of idea has been doing the CPD rounds as long as I can remember.

More importantly - do you scrunch or fold?

Old Greying Accountant's picture

But surely ...    1 thanks

Old Greying Acc... | | Permalink

... in an open plan office they can see you sat at your desk, and if you were in the meeting room ...

timfouracre's picture

Agree to disagree

timfouracre | | Permalink

The discussion has morphed from whether stand up meetings are a good way to communicate within a team to whether my staff know if I am in the office. 

I think we will have to agree to disagree on this one :)

Old Greying Accountant's picture

Fair do's, but ...

Old Greying Acc... | | Permalink

... I'm not disagreeing, I accept that many differenct businesses operate on my different models and the sucessful will find ones that work for them. Yours works for you and that is honestly and unpatronisingly excellent to me.

Although all roads lead to Rome, they are many and varied!

timfouracre's picture

Agreed and thanks!

timfouracre | | Permalink

... Different paths is why I write these articles. 

I like to read about how other businesses operate. It inspires ideas and I pick and choose ideas I like.

If our ideas resonate with some people then hopefully it will be useful. 

We haven't reached Rome yet!

Old Greying Accountant's picture

But, don't avoid the question ...

Old Greying Acc... | | Permalink

... fold or scrunch?

Wilst folding in the inner sanctum the phrase I was looking for came to me, as so often is the case.

Oranges are not the only fruit!

Fold

Manchester_man | | Permalink

I always fold then wipe. Minimum 4-5 sheets

Old Greying Accountant's picture

I fold too ...

Old Greying Acc... | | Permalink

... and try and keep to 3, 5 max - but then it depends on the quality, less is more as they say, an expensive quilted roll can actually work out cheaper!

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