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7 Effective Retrospective Techniques to Revamp Your Team
Have you ever been stuck in a project or perhaps several projects and realized your team is falling behind? Maybe you’ve missed deadlines due to lack of progress, or maybe there have been a few heated discussions during team meetings. If you manage a team or have subordinates in general, you’re probably aware that you need to conduct retrospectives from time to time. They allow the employees to take an honest look at their performance, help them figure out what’s wrong, and, ultimately, provide an opportunity for a positive change. What are some effective retrospective techniques you should try out?
What are Retrospective Techniques?
The retrospective is a technique to improve the performance and efficiency of a team or individual. It is an activity that happens after the completion of the project or after a specific period. This activity aims to improve based on what went well or didn’t go well during the project.
Purpose of Retrospective Techniques
The team members get together to discuss their experiences during the project and make improvements for future projects. Retrospective aims to improve work processes, communications, tools, etc.
A retrospective meeting helps eliminate repetitive mistakes and improves overall productivity by identifying issues in advance rather than reacting to them later when they may be harder to fix.
Retrospective techniques, also known as agile retrospective techniques, help improve team cohesiveness by allowing people from diverse backgrounds to share ideas and opinions.
Why are Retrospectives Important?
A retrospective allows product owners to reflect on the past sprints and decide how they can improve in the future. The scrum retrospective techniques help you avoid re-doing things that were not effective or focused on the right tasks. These sprint retrospective techniques also allow you to identify problem areas where work has been done poorly so that they can be improved in the future.
Retrospective Techniques to Revamp Your Team
Coming up with a suitable retrospective format is an art, and while there are no hard-and-fast rules, there are a few best practices that can help you make your retrospectives more effective. Here are some of the most valuable sprint retrospective techniques:
1. Choose a Time When Everyone is Available
Stick to a time that works for everyone. If your team can’t get together at the same time each week or month, schedule it every quarter or once every two years so it doesn’t become too burdensome on people’s calendars.
2. Ensure All Voices are Heard
“Someone silent at this time is likely to remain so for the rest of the retrospective,” writes Marc Loeffler in his book Improving Agile Retrospectives. Now is your time to invite more individuals to participate in the remaining retrospective. During this part, make sure everyone speaks at least once.
Everyone should have an opportunity to speak. When someone talks for too long, it can be intimidating to others who might not feel comfortable speaking up — especially if they’re newer team members.
3. Establish a Comfortable Environment
Your meeting room should be comfortable. A safe and relaxed environment allows people to be honest with each other.
Think about how you want people to feel when they walk in the door. Do you want it to be quiet and serene or more active and energetic? The answer will have an impact on your choice of furniture and decorations.
For example, if you want people to be creative, you might choose a table with lots of colored markers available, so people can draw their ideas on post-its and stick them up around the room.
4. Start with an Icebreaker Activity
Icebreakers help break down barriers between people who may not know each other well. This led to more open communication during the retrospective. If you ask everyone to introduce themselves, you could ask them what they are most excited about in software development or something they would like to learn more about this year.
5. Document Everything
Keep a list of all ideas and action items generated during the meeting. Additionally, write them on a flipchart or whiteboard before leaving the room. This way, when people are busy with other tasks and responsibilities, they can refer back to the list when they have time for follow-up work.
6. Review Your Action Items at the Next Retrospective
When you collect action items from the previous sprint, review them during the next sprint planning meeting. Making sure everyone keeps their commitments will help keep everyone on track. It also helps prevent “scope creep” by giving developers a chance to say “no” if they think something sounds too big or complicated to tackle.
7. Find New and Creative Ways to Acquire Feedback
There are other variations of the Start, Stop, Continue format, but the fundamental steps remain the same. The team discusses their goals for the upcoming sprint, including what they want to start, stop, and keep doing. It’s a straightforward approach. This targets both the positive aspects of the previous sprint and areas where improvements might be made.
Common Mistakes in Retrospectives
During retrospectives, people make these mistakes:
- Not spending enough time planning for the retrospective meeting. The meeting is a place for the group to reflect on what has happened. Always make sure you have enough time to do it.
- Having too many people at the retrospective meeting. Inviting anyone who wants to attend is fine, but more than 10 people can be too much. Keep in mind that if someone can’t participate, they’ll still be able to contribute via email or phone.
- Discuss only what went wrong in the retrospective meeting. Make sure everyone shares what went well and what could be improved next time so that you don’t focus on one area alone.
- Not summarising discussions at end of each session, so everyone knows where we’re going next week/month, etc.
Done right, agile retrospective techniques are an excellent way for any team to improve their design process and the way they work together.
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