Effective Communication: Daily Meetings and Follow ups

Since COVID-19 pandemic, lot of us started working remote. At our work we ended up having long daily meetings that sometimes could last for more than one hour. I wrote this piece to bring up the issue and put forward some guidelines that can help to communicate more effectively.

What a daily meeting supposed to be?

A daily meeting should function as a routine, a ritual if you may, to kick start the day. It’s  the time where all the team members show up, say hi, and talk about 30 seconds in turn. So for us, being 10 people, it should not last more than five minutes. It’s not a place to go deep in discussions of any sort, technical, support or sales. It’s not a place for details. And it’s definitely not a place for one-to-one communication.

Of course and obviously a team needs more communication than that to function. Much more as a matter of fact! But daily meetings it’s not the right channel. That’s where other channels comes to play. People who work together have their own channels or meetings. For example we developers have a developer chat. We have Teams channels for different subjects and groups.

One question is that why don’t we use them if someone wants to bring something up or ask a question? Why at least some of us find the daily meeting as the best medium for this purpose? Is it because those haven’t had a good experience with Teams? In that case we need to address that, why is that and what can we do about it? Pushing everything into the daily is not the answer.

Knowing who is interested in what

As said before, daily is not the place for details. Developers are not interested in the details of how a sales meeting went. Same as sales are not interested in the technical details of how a feature is implemented.

Self discipline & group responsibility

Do not interrupt the person who has the turn to talk. If you have any question, regarding what they do or said, ask that later from them or arrange a meeting if you think others should be involved. If someone keeps asking questions or going into the details it’s the group responsibility to remind them to stop that.

Urgent matters

If something is urgent, it does not need to wait until the daily. The person in charge, can call the relevant people into a meeting as soon as possible.

If something is not urgent, for example if you a have an idea that you would like to discuss in group, do not bring it up in the daily. Schedule a meeting, write up a short summary of what it is going to be about so the others have a mental preparation of the subject and they have the chance to plan their day.

Respect individuals

We do different things. Some tasks consists of small chunks such as support or sales calls. Some tasks require focus and a bigger chunk of uninterrupted time to be done, like programming. We should be aware of this and just don’t think of ourselves when communicating.

Long and / or unannounced meetings have a hidden cost for someone who has planned their day to perform a specific task. It’s harder and takes more energy to get back in focus when you have been exposed to ideas and discussions that you did not expect.

Free flow open panel discussions

Once a week, we can have these meetings that are sort of freer and more unstructured in which we can throw around ideas and thoughts or share the latest tech news or interesting proposals. Again, this way the participants are ready for this format mentally and plan wise.

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