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Send Your Team’s Productivity Soaring With Retrospectives

Send Your Team’s Productivity Soaring With Retrospectives
Last month we shone a spotlight on the tremendous power of feedback, in particular the use of feedback to improve oneself. This month we’re shifting our attention to the power of feedback for whole groups of people working together – a topic very close to our hearts at Flowmotion. Teams can use feedback to catapult themselves to incredible levels of effectiveness, which is inspiring for everyone in the group. It only requires stepping away to pause, reflect and decide what actions to take in order to make improvements. Easy-peasy!


Leverage the group’s power to improve by pausing, reflecting and taking actions for improvement

Reflect silently on the event or time period:

Ask the group to take 3-5 minutes to look backwards and reflect on the event (e.g. a meeting, a workshop) or time period (e.g. the last two weeks or month), and in silence write down their answers to the following 4 questions:

  1. What went well?
  2. In other words, what took place that we want to recognise and acknowledge as having gone well?

  3. What didn’t go so well?
  4. What took place that didn’t go as we would have liked?

  5. What did I learn?
  6. We want to think about what we’ve learned about how we worked together. It’s less about the content and more about the process.

  7. What still puzzles me?
  8. This question allows us to capture things that happened but leave us feeling unclear or puzzled.

Remind the participants that:

  • They may not have answers for every question – that’s okay.
  • They should only consider what happened and avoid identifying suggestions of what to do in the future… that’s for later.
  • They should be succinct in their answers so we can share them quickly and keep the energy levels up in the next step.
Share with the group and consolidate the answers:

Now we want the group to share their answers with everyone. One by one, go around the room and have each person share their answers. Some people like to focus on the first question before moving on to the next question. As people share their answers, capture them in a centrally visible location, such as a whiteboard or flipchart paper on the walls around the room. There’s no need to capture duplicates.

Select a few valuable areas to make improvements:

Now everyone can see all the answers provided, as a group, we want to identify a few high value items to work on – but only a few. Why? Because there’s only so much change we can take on at a time – 3-5 items is usually a good amount.

Retrospectives - Think Quietly Before Sharing Your Thoughts
Identify actions that will lead to team improvement:

Up until now, everything we’ve done has been about looking backwards. We’ve looked back over the specific event or time period and reflected on what happened. Now it’s time to look forward. What do we want to do differently next time in order to improve? For each of the items selected in step 3, the group should agree an action that can be taken to make an improvement. It’s only through doing something that change is possible. This action should be something within the control of the team. Request volunteers for a champion – it’s worth making clear that the champion isn’t necessarily the person who will do the action. Often they are simply the person who will be the conscience of the team to make sure the action is taken.

Give it a Try

Working in groups can be productive and rewarding, but nothing beats getting better and better. In your next team meeting, reserve some time at the end to do a retrospective as described here. It could be on the meeting itself, or perhaps looking at how things have been going over the last couple of weeks. You might be surprised what improvements are lurking just around the corner, ready to take you and the team to the next level!

We’d love to hear how you get on, and we’re happy to help if you have queries – give us a call, drop us a line or leave a comment below!

Why Does it Work?

To find out how and why all the specific elements of retrospectives are so effective, check out our Future Follow-Up! Or, next time, we could send it directly to your inbox:

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About the Author:

Laura M. Waite and Collin Lyons are the duo of business productivity coaches behind Flowmotion. For people in the office world who want to feel the buzz, Flowmotion is an enterprise that will awaken your passion for work. To address the all-too-typical experience of unenergetic working lives, our mission is to redesign how people interact with their environment to generate engaging, productive and collaborative atmospheres and organisations. We share several decades of experience providing organisational transformation and executive coaching and have worked with small, medium, large and global organisations including: British Telecom, British Petroleum, Standard Life Assurance and Investments, British Gas/Centrica, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Allied Irish Bank and the UK Government.
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