The Retrospective Play is designed to help teams identify what worked, what didn’t, and why at critical moments. Run this foundational Play regularly—whether that means every few weeks or at the end of each project—and you will quickly become a more capable and confident facilitator.
You can run the Play using a variety of tools, including a simple Confluence template. Let’s take a look at the template in detail:
There are four qualities that can help every facilitator get the most out of their Retrospective workshops: Excitement, Confidence, Environment, and Leadership (ExCEL). The purpose of ‘ExCEL’ is to help you understand what skills and attitudes you will develop as you become a more experienced Play leader. Every facilitator will begin with varying levels of comfort in these four categories.
Excitement: Get excited about a Retrospective with a positive attitude.
Confidence: Practice facilitating a Retrospective to build confidence.
Before you run a Retrospective, envision the journey of the entire Play from beginning to end. Place yourself at step one and walk through the diagram below, capturing any thoughts or concerns that come to mind. Finally, visualize your team sharing insights and next steps. What does it look like and how does it feel?
Practice by doing a talk-through or a full practice run of the Play. Review the instructions, take note of any likely blockers, and practice the verbal cues you will use to help your team transition from one step to the next. This will help you reinforce good habits and prevent bad ones as you gain more experience running Plays.
Pro tip: Record yourself doing a dry run. This is nerve-wracking but extremely helpful. When you watch a recording of your dry run, you will inevitably notice many things to change, expand on, or eliminate.
Environment: Set the tone and establish context for your team at the beginning of a Retrospective.
Start by stating the purpose of the Play and answering any questions. Monitor the team’s energy and mood throughout the Play by checking in to see if they have questions and making sure they are staying focused on the goals.
Leadership: Facilitate by guiding.
Don't overwhelm participants by talking too much. Instead, gently steer conversations by asking open-ended questions. Remain positive and lead by example by focusing on solutions rather than problems.
The ExCEL framework is a simple but important tool for charting your growth as a facilitator. Return to it often, and focus on developing your weaker areas.
While it’s good to standardize your Retros, it’s also important to embrace a spirit of continuous improvement and look for opportunities to tweak the Play based on feedback from your team.
Try experimenting with different time limits for your Retrospectives, or invite your team members to share their feedback on the Play. Encourage your team members to suggest changes and let them know that you are willing to tinker with the Retrospective format in order to find a solution that fits your team.
Find more training resources for Atlassian Team Playbook on Atlassian Community:
Christine P_ Dela RosaAtlassian Team
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