Our scrum events rarely start on time because members show up late. There are no reasons given for the tardiness. This wastes the time of the other members who are on time! We have discussed this in the retrospective and the scrum master has urged people to be on time but they still show up 2 to 5 minutes late. Besides reporting them to their managers, what is an effective way to deal with this?

  • There are no reasons given for the tardiness. -- What have you done to determine why they are regularly late? Understanding this is the first step to coming up with solutions. For example, the solutions are going to look different if the people who are regularly late are coming from a meeting (which may also be running late) versus if they have an open schedule before the scheduled event.
    – Thomas Owens
    Dec 6, 2019 at 17:47
  • At the retrospective, members were asked to say why they come late and there were no reasons given because nobody wants to state the truth. To be honest, this is an existing company-wide problem . Senior people show up late for meetings and meetings do not start until the senior people arrive! That tardiness affects subsequent meetings that one needs to attend that day! The many scrum events are just highlighting a problem that went un-addressed ! Dec 6, 2019 at 18:48

6 Answers 6



You don't describe your role on the Scrum Team, but the solutions require the active collaboration of all members of the team. In particular, the Scrum Master role is the process referee, and not simply a bystander separate from the rest of the Scrum Team. This is often obscured by a misunderstanding of the "servant leader" paradigm. As a coach and referee, the Scrum Master most likely needs to both explain and enforce the framework's requirements for the daily standup, rather than just taking a passive approach.

Respect Time Box and Cadence; Create Necessary Slack

The daily standup is part of the cadence of the Sprint. As such, it should be:

  1. Held at a predictable time.
  2. Strictly time-boxed.
  3. Meeting the needs of the Development Team.
  4. Facilitating collaboration rather than status reporting.

If people are routinely showing up late, at least one of the principles above is likely being violated. To address this, the Scrum Team should:

  1. Review the start time of the standup to ensure it's consistent and agreeable to the whole team. About an hour after the starting time of core hours is often a good place to start.
  2. Ensure the standup starts on time and ends on time, every time! Individuals being late shouldn't be allowed to disrupt the time box. Enforcing the time box is a key responsibility for an effective Scrum Master in their capacity as a process referee.
  3. Address root causes and impediments. If people are late because meetings are too closely packed on the day's calendar, or insufficient padding around the event is provided by the organization, fix that!
  4. Ensure the daily standup is used only for collaborating on the daily increment. Push status reporting and other topics outside of the meeting's time box. If the team members find value in the event, they'll make time for it and want to be there for the whole thing.
  • I am a developer and member of the team. I am trying to improve the team and this is one area of struggle! Dec 8, 2019 at 23:59

You may want to consider getting the team together and coming up with a working agreement.

This will need to be decided on by consensus of the whole team. The idea being that when people actively participate in drawing up a working agreement they are far more likely to follow it.

It is a lot easier to call people out for things like being late to meetings if they have themselves stated it is a bad thing.

  • Thanks for your suggestion. There is already a working agreement that contains the start time and format of the stand up. Dec 8, 2019 at 23:58
  • @user6284097, but was that existing working agreement created by the current team or was it inherited from another team (perhaps other members working in the same area of the software) or pushed from above? Dec 9, 2019 at 14:59
  • This was a working agreement formulated by the existing team members Dec 9, 2019 at 23:54

I suggest to apply fine, for every minute late, there will be a constant value for the fine example $5, but first you have to agree on this rule as a team, because scrum and agile project management depends on self organize team, and suppose to be funny, as the team knows the important of time-boxed events and the harm of being late, it will be easy to agree about the fine and also will have a sense of humor, no one like to pay a fine. this way succeed in my team, hope it succeed in your team as well.

  • 1
    Instead of a monetary fine, I have seen "cake points" being used. If you are late to a meeting, you get a cake point and when you reach X points, you need to make/buy a treat for the team. The "fine" was 1 point for being late/absent without a valid reason, regardless of how late you were. Dec 9, 2019 at 15:03
  • this is a good idea too, same approach with different method, the idea is applying fine to ensure Commitment using funny way that be accepted and respected by the team, and it is vary from one team or environment to another.
    – Amir Serry
    Dec 9, 2019 at 18:17
  • The side effects of negative reinforcement (punishment) are unpleasant and I wonder how effective it would be. I’d rather embrace a transparent culture and let everyone talk openly about it and decide TOGETHER what to do about it. Dec 15, 2019 at 3:28
  • I agree with you and that why even a "fine" has to be agreed within the team as the team is self organize and know the bad effect of being late, together they have to agree on how to address the problem, and it is really effective and funny way to handle the problem
    – Amir Serry
    Dec 15, 2019 at 12:07

The appropriate solution to this depends on so many dynamics within your Scrum team and organization in general, that’s it’s really not possible to answer appropriately without knowing a lot more. But it would be too complex to discuss here. With that said, you might try...

  • Address tardiness directly at the time it occurs, have the SM or another appropriate leader within the team ask them directly why they are late, at the moment they arrive late and in front of the rest of the team. This will encourage them to be held accountable to the rest of the team for their tardiness, which may encourage them to stop it.

  • Have the SM visit them at the time they should be making their way to the meeting and make sure they are on the way, accompany them to the meeting or have the opportunity to privately address what’s going on and see directly why they are late!

  • Have the SM meet with them privately and discuss the issue.

  • Organize some social or other team building exercises to bring the team together so members don’t feel comfortable letting each other down.

It really depends on what the underlying issue is, issues like this are usually a sign of an unaddressed disharmony in the team, that is best identified and fixed if possible. Depending on that is what type of approach will work best, and which will simply create more disharmony.

  • Asking people about the way they act in front of other people can be embarrassing and play against you. I agree with your idea of talking privately with them first, and if they feel comfortable to, get together and discuss with the whole team about it. Dec 15, 2019 at 3:32
  • Totally agree Mario, that would only work with a tight knit team that has mutual respect (which is a Scrum Value), which is why I opened with saying it depends on the dynamics within the Scrum team. With a tight knit team it can be helpful to address issues jointly, and help the team support each other. But otherwise I totally agree, it will play against you if the respect isn't there.
    – user37944
    Dec 15, 2019 at 19:48
  • Respect is not necessarily going to alleviate the discomfort of who is going to be questioned. I’ve been in such situations a couple of times and regardless of how respectful the team is, human nature kicks in, anxiety plays its role and people get stressed. Dec 18, 2019 at 8:51
  • Sure, that's why it's a call you have to make based on the dynamics in the actual team in question. I've been in teams where discussing issues together has been very powerful and brought the team closer together.
    – user37944
    Dec 18, 2019 at 16:12

It looks like team is not buying in either to the job at hand or to the scrum as a process.

Below could be few possibilities: -

  • Try to find the reason for team not to buy in
  • Talk to them to know if they are facing some impediments
  • Team is not motivated for the project or mission
  • There could be some politics going on within team, department or organization that is impacting team
  • Team needs some help but they have no hope from management

Ask the people who are always late how they would like the stand up meetings to be in terms of schedule and start from there.

People think differently regardless of processes (they are humans in essence, right?!). It’s important to understand other people’s point of view and be prepared to be flexible.

In my personal experience, If the team is mature enough, an email can be as effective as a stand up meeting and maybe those that are always late could send an email instead?!

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.