Stand up and be counted

February 5, 2018

We all want internal communication to increase employee awareness, understanding and engagement. But what if an IC channel could do more?

The University of Strathclyde has taken a new approach to face-to-face communication, reinventing the concept of the daily team briefing as a ‘daily stand up’.

This new approach is helping to embed a culture of continuous improvement across the university, and the impacts are hard to ignore:

  • Over 70 per cent of university employees who take part in daily stand ups feel more confident about raising concerns and improvement ideas.
  • 70 per cent feel more empowered in their role.
  • 100 per cent feel that teamwork and collaboration has increased.

The net result is that thousands of improvement opportunities have been identified by employees and put into practice – everything from sharing keyboard shortcuts to methods for cutting waiting times during student registration.

“Internal communication is one of the key building blocks of a continuous improvement culture,” said John Hogg, Director of Continuous Improvement at the University.

“Having clear communication every day makes everyone clear on what their responsibilities are, and how their role contributes to the objectives of the team and the wider organisation.”

But what makes these daily stand ups different to the kind of daily briefing many of us will be familiar with?

The concept is based on three pillars:

  • People – it’s a team meeting – not a manager’s meeting. Everyone is expected to contribute and a rota is used to appoint each day’s leader.
  • Performance – performance measures specific to each team are introduced. Teams are always aware of how they’re performing and how their performance affects the wider organisation.
  • Improvement – recent performance is analysed and opportunities for improvement are identified. Agreement is reached on who is responsible for executing any necessary actions. Successes are shared and celebrated, too.

“Because you’re standing up and because there’s a common structure, these meetings are very organised and disciplined,” added John. “They’re very short, sharp and focused.

“Another difference is that you’re dealing with things as and when they happen. You’re always preventing small things from becoming big things.”

Stand ups have so far been adopted by more than 50 teams at the University of Strathclyde, and that number is growing. Often, all that is required is a 2-3 hour training session to get them going. The biggest barrier, according to John, is the initial fear of change.

However, with persistence, the stand ups have not only been accepted, but have become integral to a cultural shift at the University.

He said: “A lot of people aren’t used to standing up and talking – you’re initially taking people out of their comfort zone. But do it every day and it will boost their confidence.

“There’s also a focus on how we can improve how we work every single day. The focus of these meetings is continuous improvement.

“Over time, that has an impact on the thinking of a team. We’re empowering teams to make changes, rather than waiting for someone else to do it.”

Click here to read more about continuous improvement at the University of Strathclyde.

Having clear communication every day makes everyone clear on what their responsibilities are, and how their role contributes to the objectives of the team and the wider organisation.