How to run standup meetings

I’ve run more standup meetings than I can count. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t one of my favorite parts of managing a warehouse team. I’m an extrovert by nature. Talking in front of groups isn’t something I shy away from.

But whether you’re extroverted or not, there’s a subtle art to leading an effective standup meeting. And it ultimately comes down to practice—the more you do it, the more efficient you become. Here’s my best advice for how to run standup meetings that keep workers engaged, safe, and motivated for the shift ahead.

Free template!

Use this template to prepare your notes before running a standup meeting.

Defining your objectives

Before you head to standup, it’s important to write your goals for the meeting. I’ve found that if I don’t plan, my standups can quickly become confusing or downright pointless.

And you don’t want your team to start thinking that standup is pointless. In most cases, standups are the only designated time to talk to an entire team—especially if you have a lot of direct reports. So, you want to make use of the time you have.

Here are some questions you can answer to create a quick outline for standup:

  • Are there any major company announcements to make?
  • Have there been any changes to equipment, processes, etc.?
  • What are the goals for the shift/work week?
  • Were there any safety incidents since the last shift that the team should know about?
  • Are there any special projects that need to be done?

Don’t underestimate this step. A couple of notes jotted down on scratch paper can help you stay focused. And planning shows your team that you’re ready for the day, which helps set the tone for the shift.

Setting the vibe

Curating the mood for a shift can be hard. Not everyone comes in feeling great and it’s not your job to make sure everyone’s happy each day. But as a leader, standup presents the opportunity to offer a welcoming atmosphere.

You can do this in many ways, such as:

  • Playing music
  • snacks
  • Sharing words of encouragement
  • Playing games

Depending on the type of environment you work in, some of these may not be possible. But even if you can’t play music or don’t have time for games, there’s always time and space for positive encouragement.

As people come into the standup, make sure you vocalize your gratitude that they’ve shown up. It might sound cheesy, but it really does make a huge impact.

Sharing critical information

I can’t stress how important it is that your workers know what’s going on. You can’t run standup meetings effectively if your team is out of the loop.

As soon as the meeting starts, you should jump right into the major points from your notes. Start with your team goals, company announcements, and other macro-level topics.

This ensures that if there are any questions, you have time to answer them without dragging the meeting out too long. As much as you want to cover all your points, you also need to consider the clock.

The best length for a standup meeting depends on how often you have them and what kind of work you do. In a warehouse setting, I try to limit my standups to five minutes. By starting with the most important information, I can ensure my team has all the information they need to have a successful shift.

Building strong workplace relationships

Aside from communicating with your team, you should use standup as a time to build strong relationships. Giving shoutouts to specific people is a great way to do this.

I try to mix it up when it comes to the type of shoutouts I give. If you focus too much on top performers for things like quality and productivity, you’re probably going to isolate some people.

I’ve found that the best employees aren’t always the top performers in a single category. Sometimes, they’re the most consistent or the best team players. It’s important to recognize that there are a lot of different types of success. By diversifying the reasons for shoutouts, you ensure that you motivate your team to perform individually but collectively as well.