We’ve all been there.
Monday morning, turn computer on. Open inbox. Fall into inbox.
Co-worker sends you an instant message to chat about the weekend.
Urgent priority pops up. Work frantically.
Go to meeting.
Oh yeah, I need to follow up on three different efforts to see if my team has completed the next steps yet.
Check in with each team member, “Have you completed task X yet?”
“Sorry, I got caught up with Y. I’ll get it done this week.”
Same cycle repeats, week in and week out. Before you know it, a month has gone by with little to show for progress.
Can you relate? It’s okay—you don’t have to admit this out loud. We’ve all been there at some point in our careers 😉
Fortunately, there is another way.
This proven method helps to knock off the weekend haze first thing on Monday morning and brings not only your priorities, but also your team’s priorities front and center so you can stop nagging them to complete tasks.
After all, no one likes a nagging boss.
A Heightened Challenge for Remote Teams
On remote teams, this pattern is a trap that we can fall into even easier, because we don’t have the visual cue of our co-workers to remind us of the different tasks we owe them. Our boss isn’t watching us work—and as a team leader, you can’t see your team working on the tasks you’ve assigned them.
Is your team making progress? Should you call and check? But you don’t want to be a micromanager either, so you err on the side of checking less often.
A few days later, you find out that they haven’t even started yet.
Ouch. You should have called.
In project management, there is no time to waste. Projects frequently go over schedule and over budget, so project leaders who can align their teams for maximum productivity and avoid wasting time are extremely valuable.
The #1 Tool to Align Team Efforts for Maximum Productivity
Whether you lead a team in the office, a fully-remote team, or a hybrid of in-office and remote work, there is one tool that rises above the rest in aligning team productivity.
It only takes 15-30 minutes out of your week, but it can double or even triple you team’s output.
This practice will help you ensure your team is working on the most important, value-added activities to move mountains for your organization. I’m talking about those big rock items that frequently get pushed to next week or next month because they are so ominous, yet you know that getting them done would make half of the rest of your activities irrelevant.
30 minutes is 1.25% of a 40-hour work week. A 1% time investment can double or triple your results. Worth it? I think so.
In fact, I think every single team should be doing this.
What is it?
The Weekly Stand-Up Meeting.
What is a Weekly Stand-Up Meeting?
For the reasons mentioned above, the weekly stand-up meeting is my favorite team productivity tool.
For remote teams, it improves team cohesion and ensures each team member is working towards the highest priorities and is adding value to the team.
A weekly stand-up meeting is a 15-30 minute meeting within the first hour or two of the start of your team’s work day on Monday morning.
It’s like a weekly kick-off meeting, every week.
The 15-30 minutes part is important. Any longer, and it cuts into the momentum of the week.
The goal is to keep this meeting short, sweet, and to-the-point.
Gather your direct reports or team members (should be no more than 15 people).
Start on time, and cover the major team priorities for the week.
What Topics Should You Cover During Your Stand-Up Meeting?
The content of your stand-up meeting should cover two main sections, the dashboard overview and personal accountability.
- Major meetings for the week
- Priority efforts in work and next steps
- Upcoming suspenses or taskers due
- Team Resource Availability – Who is on vacation, traveling, in training, or otherwise unavailable?
After you skim through the important items to get an idea on where everything is at—and give your team visibility into everything going on, then it’s time for personal accountability.
For personal accountability, go around the room and have each person give a quick overview of their top 2-4 priorities and major efforts for the week.
This has two main benefits.
First, it forces each person to identify the activities that are most important for them to contribute to the team. By identifying these activities first thing in their week, each team member can break out of the weekend haze and build momentum in their week right away.
Second, when each team member says out loud, in front of the entire team, what they plan to do for the week…they are creating accountability for themselves. Now they need to follow through on those tasks to maintain credibility on their team.
This accountability naturally has a way of encouraging team members to follow-though on their efforts. No one wants to be that person who says the same thing every week and will want to show progress as a team player.
Benefits of a Regular Remote Team Stand-Up Meeting
With the adoption of any new practice, you may encounter resistance. Focus on the benefits and articulate those benefits to your team.
Your team members will be able to take ownership of their weekly productivity. If you’ve ever felt like a micromanager or your team has accused you of micromanaging—this is the solution!
Rather than worrying about if your employees are online and working, you can simply follow-up on their results and they can tell you what they plan to accomplish each week on a regular, predictable basis. You know what they’re doing, and they know you know what they’re doing. This goes a long way towards reducing the anxiety around remote work performance and building trust among your team.
Another added benefit for the project leader is to enable workload sharing. Members of a project team often serve in overlapping functions and can offer to help one another when needed. By going over what efforts are on everyone’s plates, you can easily see who is overloaded and who has time to take on additional work. By evening out the workload, you improve your chances of completing the project on-time or ahead of schedule AND helping everyone keep their sanity in the process!
A New Practice for Maximum Remote Team Productivity
Watch your team’s productivity and results skyrocket after just a couple weeks of employing the stand-up meeting.
Once you’re able to get on top of urgent issues and priorities, then you can look forward at proactively managing upcoming efforts to stay on top of your schedule and provide unparalleled value to your organization.
If you’d like to learn more about how to effectively lead remote teams, you can start by reading the first two chapters of my book completely free.
Alexis Gerst is a detail-oriented leader with a passion for remote work culture. As an Acquisition Program Manager, Alexis is experienced leading technical teams toward the procurement and sustainment of critical weapon systems. She has been leading remote teams since the beginning of the pandemic and continues working remotely 95% of the time.
Alexis lives with her husband and two adorable—albeit large and energetic—dogs near the mountains in northern Utah. She is an avid reader with an unreasonable love of distance running.
In her latest book, Leading Remote Teams: Embrace the Future of Remote Work Culture, Alexis champions the future potential of remote work, explores the advantages of a workplace paradigm shift, and delivers tactical tips for remote leaders to enable team success.