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How to facilitate an efficient Online Retrospective

It’s a fact! Facilitating a remote meeting is the new norm for Project Managers, Scrum Masters or Team Leads and with this many of our old habits or tricks are no longer efficient or even applicable. Here are some tricks that could elevate your next online retrospective!

Be structured, time the activities, and communicate expectations to your team.

This will be specific to the retrospective format you’ve chosen but to keep your team’s engagement it’s important that people understand – What they have to do and How long they have to do it.

If you make this clear in every step of your retrospective, the team will be focused!

As an example – During the feedback submission form team has to define 2 things that went well and 2 that could have been done better and for this, they have exactly 10 minutes.

All Or Nothing, maybe…

It took me several retrospectives to notice this, but if several people are focused in groups, lets say with the following setup:

  • iOS developer 1 – Remote
  • iOS developer 2 – Remote
  • Test Automation – Remote
  • Android Developer 1 – Office
  • Android Developer 2 – Office
  • Scrum Master – Office
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Items from people in the office will naturally gain more importance at the same time some of the remote teammates might be discouraged from expressing their opinions

If possible, suggest an all Remote retrospective and compare the results.

Simple Retrospective tool is a must

A simple tool or approach has always lead to better retrospective outcomes and less time spent on “other” topics. This is even more important when retrospectives are held online.

Here are some that I’ve tried and are simple yet provides the most popular templates and effective collaborating options(in no particular order):

A tool that works well for one team may not for other! To give you confidence in the tool you are using, you can ask your team to rate the tool after the retrospective.

Random Online Retrospective Tips

  • Simple retrospective formats are easier to perform online
  • Always start your retros with action items from the previous one, this gives the team a sense of commitment towards discussed topics and defined actions
  • If your team is new to retrospectives, it’s easier to focus on the things that can be improved, but after a couple of retros don’t forget to analyze the things you did well and iteratively improve them
  • Assignees are crucial for every action point. If an action is not defined in a format that it can be assigned to a person, most likely this item will not be done.
  • As with any meeting – preparation will ensure engagement and efficiency. Test your tools, understand your team’s mindset (positive, negative), create a script if you have to. But be confident in the process and the goal of the exercise

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