If the word “status meeting” or “team update” sends shivers down the spines of your teammates and yourself, you’re not alone.
The majority of companies struggle with team update meetings as well. In fact, up to 71% of meetings are considered unproductive both by managers and employees.
Employees say regular status updates distract them from work and can even make them anxious. Managers, on the other hand, criticize employees for incomplete and unfocused updates.
Seems like a situation where no one wins. Do we even need regular updates within teams?
Turns out, we do. Team updates yield many benefits for any company, but only when they are properly organized.
Let’s discuss the advantages of team updates, learn why most team updates don’t work, and how top-performing teams conduct work update meetings that benefit everyone.
Why Do We Need Team Updates At All?
Performing team updates properly will result in the following benefits:
- Know your progress. Obviously, status reports are designed to monitor team progress on current tasks. Yet, as you’ll soon see, that’s just scratching the surface of what team update meetings can achieve.
- Align team members. Top-performing teams know just how crucial team alignment is, especially when you take on massive projects that rely on several people’s performance. Poorly executed team updates divide people, but well-structured ones bring them closer.
- Boost team morale. Keeping high team morale yields many benefits, and is especially important when your team faces unfamiliar challenges or takes risks. Sharing team updates in the right context helps you monitor morale and improve it.
- Boost collaboration. When your team updates are transparent and engaging, team members start perceiving them as an opportunity to share their struggles and help each other rather than a dull routine they are obligated to endure.
Where Do Most Team Updates Go Wrong?
- Distracting. After a typical meeting, employees take at least 25 minutes to get back to their work. For developers and professionals who rely on an uninterrupted state of flow to perform at their highest level, this time can be even twice that.
Things get worse when your work update meetings take place in the morning when many people are most energetic. As a result, poorly structured update meetings can rob your team of tens of productive hours every week.
Solution: run asynchronous meetings. More on that later.
- Poorly organized. Managers have problems making sense of all information. Lots of valuable data slips through the cracks and gets more complicated when your teammates are spread over several time zones as it’s hard to find a time that fits all.
Solution: automate your team update meetings.
- One-sided. Some managers feel like the goal of team update meetings is to simplify their life, i.e. quickly collect progress updates from every team member. Therefore, employees are discouraged from interacting with each other. They simply wait for their turn to report and move on. As a result, collaboration is minimal and employees are passive.
Solution: conduct team updates in a shared team space (e.g. your team messenger Slack or MS Teams) to make everyone feel included and engaged.
How to Run Effective Team Updates
Conduct Asynchronous Team Updates
Unlike traditional meetings, asynchronous meetings don’t happen in real-time. A typical example of an asynchronous meeting would be sending a question to every team member in Slack and then letting everyone post their answers throughout the day.
Among many benefits of asynchronous meetings is that they don’t force team members to be in the same meeting. If you ever worked in a distributed remote team, you know how hard it is to gather people in the same video call – what’s an early morning for some teammates may be a late evening for others.
Another benefit is that asynchronous meetings are not disruptive. Employees can send their updates whenever they have free time instead of being distracted or spending half of their day waiting or participating in meetings.
Lastly, asynchronous meetings are short. When you have a shared meeting in real-time, you have to sit through everyone’s responses before it’s your turn to share an update with a team. Hence many update meetings run well over an hour. With asynchronous meetings, team members spend mere minutes posting their updates and can quickly get back to their work.
Automate Your Team Updates
Team updates can take up a lot of time to set up, organize, and conduct regularly:
- Spending time on making sure everyone is invited and participates
- Spending time taking notes during the meeting
- Spending time organizing past updates and grouping them for future reference
Combined, these tasks can eat up lots of hours of any manager who wants to keep team updates organized and make the most value out of them. The good news is that all these aspects can and should be automated.
Tip: Tools such as Geekbot allow to automate every aspect of team updates so that managers and employees could focus on creating value rather than spending hours on the organization. In the next section, we’ll explore how it works in more detail.
Conduct Team Updates In Team Messengers
Conducting team updates in team messengers such as Slack or MS Teams provides several advantages.
First of all, your team members probably already use messengers a lot. Therefore, they feel comfortable communicating and expressing themselves there. There’s also a higher chance they set up notifications and mobile apps to not miss any updates. Running team updates in messenger would not require them to learn any new tools and workflows.
Second, running team updates in team messengers allows you to utilize advanced features that Slack and MS Teams provide. For example, whenever a team member posts an update in Slack, other team members can later follow up via Slack threads. That wouldn’t be possible in a real-time meeting.
You can also use built-in search tools to browse through past updates or utilize 3rd party Slack integrations and MS Teams integrations to create even more advanced workflows.
Lastly, running team updates in Slack or MS Teams lets you keep everything in one place. Often remote teams struggle when all their data is scattered across several tools and services. Crucial data may slip through the cracks or get lost forever.
When you run all your team updates in Slack, you can create separate channels for your team updates to keep things organized. Other conversations, however, are just a tap away. You can, for example, quickly glance through today’s team updates and then check what the team discussed in more specific project channels.
Case Study: How Asynchronous Automated Team Updates In Slack Reinvented Team’s Productivity
We figured that the most beneficial team updates are asynchronous, automated, and run directly in Slack or MS Teams.
Sounds like a lot of work to achieve that.
Turns out, with the right tool you can set up such team updates in minutes.
Here’s a story about a remote team that saves about hundreds of hours every month, brings teammates closer, and keeps employees motivated through the power of asynchronous team updates.
What Was The Problem?
A remote team developed a popular software product. Half the team was working in the US, and the rest were spread throughout Europe and India.
When the team was small, running team updates wasn’t a big issue. These would take 10 minutes and everyone could go back to their tasks.
But as the team grew, running team updates became a nightmare for everyone. Gathering everyone in the same call was counter-productive. For example, developers would waste hours listening to updates from non-development departments. Due to the time difference, some people couldn’t wake up that early while others came exhausted after a long day.
Managers tried to schedule several team updates for different departments and time zones, but soon found out they spend roughly 40% of their day organizing and running these meetings.
Worse yet, running separate team updates led to data fragmentation. Only managers who attended all meetings knew what was happening in the company. Once united, the team split into smaller groups that operated within their own informational bubble. Different departments stopped communicating and no longer were willing to help each other. Some team members started to feel isolated and left out.
Because developers now communicated with less transparency with other departments such as support and QA, the software product now had more defects than ever. User feedback got worse. Team morale dwindled down. Turnover increased. The growth rate slowed down.
Following a story from another company’s blog post, managers decided to try asynchronous team updates.
As per recommendation, the company decided to try Geekbot. There wasn’t much risk as Geekbot worked well with Slack, their primary team messenger, and offered a 30-day trial with no restrictions.
After adding Geekbot to Slack, here’s how they set it up:
- At the designated time, Geekbot would send three simple update questions to every team member in Slack:
- You can ask any questions, but the manager went with a daily stand up default template to save time:
- Here it was possible to set up how often to send these questions, what time, and who will receive them. The company went with daily work day updates:
The important setting was to send questions in the user’s local time zones. That meant that everyone received questions in the morning, whatever time zone they work in.
But the best part is that people were not forced to answer the questions as soon as they receive them. Geekbot would patiently wait for answers throughout the day and may only send a notification from time to time.
As a result, employees were able to participate in team updates whenever they had free time.
Better yet, they never had to wait for anyone and only dealt with their questions.
4. Geekbot automatically gathered all updates from every team members in a standalone channel:
As a result, everyone could go to that channel and check updates from people they are interested in. Managers could create private Slack channels so that only they could see updates from the team, but they wanted everyone to know what was happening in the company.
- Team transparency was boosted in the next few days. Everyone know knew what everyone else is working on.
People could follow up on each other’s updates even from other departments and schedule follow-ups.
- Cross-department collaboration skyrocketed. Support operators were able to reach out to the developers who worked on the latest features and ask them for details.
Managers could schedule follow-ups between people from different departments to quickly address complex issues without wasting everyone else’s time.
- Development speed increased. Sprint velocity grew by almost 30% simply because developers were spending no more than 5 minutes a day on sending updates to Geekbot. No more useless meetings or hours wasted on preparing for them.
- Team morale soared. Within the next month, the team found gaps in product strategy and was able to significantly reduce technical debt. User reviews improved, sales improved, and team members now finally felt as a team rather than a group of disjointed departments.
Additionally, managers used Geekbot’s built-in A.I. analysis of team responses to track team well-being based on sentiment in their answers:
Team leads learned that developers felt most energized at the beginning of the sprint and least in the middle. They learned the issue was with a poor estimation of workload, and developers simply didn’t have much to do a few days into a sprint.
After fixing that, once again, developers became more productive and engaged throughout the entire sprint.
Summary: Are Team Updates Necessary?
As you’ve seen, team updates are a double-edged sword.
Executed poorly, they start draining the time and energy of your team members while taking a toll on the team’s productivity and morale.
But when done right, team updates are an invaluable tool for keeping your team focused, aligned, and energized.
If you struggle with making the most of your team updates or feel like you can get so much more value out of them, try running asynchronous team updates directly in Slack or MS Teams with Geekbot.
Geekbot is free for small teams with up to 10 members and offers a 30-day full-feature trial for larger companies. Join the likes of Shopify, Gitlab, and Github who already used Geekbot to get rid of useless meetings and reinvent their remote productivity!
Frequently asked questions
Should you Run Weekly or Daily Updates Team Updates?
Running daily or weekly team updates comes down to either preferences or type of the projects your team typically works on. For example, product development teams would benefit from daily team updates because they deal with many unique tasks over the course of the project and require more alignment. Helpdesk teams handle more routine and repetitive tasks, so weekly updates can be a better fit.
Are there Weekly Team Update Templates Available?
There are templates for weekly check-ins and daily updates that can be repurposed for team updates. You can use excel templates, google sheet templates, or notion templates that your team members will gradually fill over the course of the day.
How to Give a Status Update in a Meeting?
To avoid long and unproductive meetings, make sure to prepare your status update before the meeting starts. Briefly outline tasks you were working on since the last update, your progress, and any roadblocks that may prevent you from completing tasks. To reduce time spent on status updates it’s recommended to run them asynchronously and directly in team messengers.