Retrospectives can be incredibly valuable and when well run can play a part in improving the performance of a team.
Although often they can descend in to sessions where everyone complains and no positive actions are taken.
Also” less vocal” members of the team who have value contributions can be drowned out by others.
Having been in many of these such sessions, it caused me to reflect on Retrospectives.
These are 5 tips to improve Retrospectives.
1. Assumed Responsibility
Sometime ago I read a study on Road Rage(which i can’t seem to find 🙂 ) where drivers were asked to consider their own driving prior to the point they got angry at other drivers. It had surprising affect, it reduced road rage considerably. Drivers realised that if they had kept to speed limits or had given a little more distance to the other drivers, then other drivers “mistakes” reduced.
Often after an unsuccessful project our natural reaction is to blame all the other teams that were involved in the project. Often this achieves few positive outcomes and makes everyone feel worse.
Changing such behaviors is challenging but hugely empowering. Focus to what the team did well and where it could have done better. This leads to actionable items that they team can improve on the in the next project.
2. Mix it up
Following the same format for every Retrospective can lower energy and reduce engagement.
Websites such as Fun Retrospectives provides a huge variety of retrospective formats.
Also don’t focus on just process improvement, consider other areas such as team health.
3. Everyone contributes
Every team naturally has more vocal members who can sometimes dominate meetings.
One approach to overcome this perhaps give every a few minutes to capture their ideas on post-its at the beginning of the meeting.
It is important that the facilitator includes everyone during in the later discussions.
4. Celebrate and express Gratitude
Retrospectives are much more enjoyable for all participants when we celebrate our successes and thank our team members.
5. Follow up on Actions
If the team uncover possible improvements, track these improvements and take action.
At the next retrospective, update the team in progress that has been made around these improvements.
Overall Retrospectives help create happier and higher performing teams if they are correctly managed.
Is it time you had a retrospective of your retrospective?
This is a personal blog. The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my current or previous employers.
Credit: David Lynan : Discussion with David challenged my thoughts on retros and lead to me writing this blog.