With remote teams, stand-ups may be the best opportunity for leads and members to understand potential technical or product conflicts, what is not headed in the right direction, challenges that need to be addressed. This often takes more than a quick 10 minute stand-up! Don’t fly through stand-ups like a process that you need to check-off. Everyone’s busy and no one wants to waste time, but it’s better to assure development is headed in the right direction, than to write wrong code.
The key skill in stand-ups is attentiveness. This may sound simple, but remember, you’re inputs are fewer when communicating through voice or webcam. If you are attentive, you know when you have to intervene and ask more questions. Dig in. Doing so with the whole team helps you surface issues that the everyone can learn from. In remote teams this is especially needed because it gives team members the opportunity to reinforce their understanding and thinking processes, even to challenge their biases, and to learn from other teammates.
Chris Lema in Building & Managing Virtual Teams, warns you to be careful not to encourage responses from your team that they believe you want to hear. Instead, push for honest answers with all the bad news that may be hidden in there.
“So how do you encourage truth? Simple. The next time you hear bad news, instead of getting upset, dig into it so you understand it. And then embrace it. Ask what alternatives have been considered and if it sounds like everyone is thinking about things correctly, adjust expectations and plan for the new reality that takes into account the bad news. Don’t lose your cool.”
“It’s not that anyone wants to lie. But the reality is that most cultural dynamics in teams land closer to telling each other what they want to hear instead of what they need to hear.”