Career Tools: A Stand-Up session to help you stay on track

April 5, 2021

If you work in an agile team building digital products or services you may be familiar with the idea of a daily stand-up.

It’s a short meeting to get focused, take a brief look back, and then find a clear path forward.

However, if you spend much of your time working alone and/or in a new career search this practice may not feel like a relevant or viable option. It’s designed for teams, after all.

But here’s the thing; you may need it even more than they do.

Here’s a standup recipe to try. It’s a little different from a typical team check-in: while it too looks back and looks forward at what’s next, this standup also provides a flexible frame to get grounded, and to remind yourself of what really matters most.

You can use this once a day, once a week, or at whatever time cadence you choose. We recommend daily during the working week if you can.

All that’s required is yourself, a peer, and 20 minutes or so. The person you do this with doesn’t need to work in the same field as you (in fact it can be better if they don’t), but what you do need is to be invested in other’s success.

When using this recipe, each partner should be given time and space to speak, but the listener should also be comfortable asking questions and challenging as needed.

One area where I find myself being challenged (with good reason) is on my priorities for the day. Often there’s too much, or I create new things for myself that sound good (no, they sound great!) but really aren’t important (ok, you’re right). Without a peer who notices those patterns and calls them out, I’d find myself overwhelmed and frustrated.

As with all recipes, some ingredients can be substituted, and you can season to your taste. However you use this recipe, the core nutritional value is in checking in with each other, getting clear on priorities, and reminding yourself that yes, indeed, you’re a human being.

Enjoy!


Recipe: A Daily Stand-Up

Instructions:

  • Serves: 2
  • Preparation Time: 2 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 20 minutes
  • Serving suggestion: One question each and rotate, or you can opt for a full go-round for each person before changing (the former usually gives far more flavor)
  • Pairs well with: Morning coffee, no distractions

Check-In Round

  • Is anything preventing you from being present?
  • How are you feeling today?

Previous

  • What are 1-3 highlights since we last spoke? (the number of highlights depends on your cadence)

Priorities

  • What are 1-3 things you’re working on? (this could be today, or this week – we do a weekly view on Mondays, then a daily view thereafter)

Team Time

  • What do you need from the team? (this is an opportunity to set up a separate time to help the other work through a particular challenge, or review some work. We’ll usually have something here once a week or so)

For yourself

  • What are you doing for yourself today? (It could be going for a run, baking a cake, calling a friend, or sitting down for 10 minutes and doing…nothing. Every day, make space for doing something for yourself)

Quick Review

  • Is there anything else on your mind?
  • What’s changed for you over the course of today’s stand-up?