Psychological Safety retrospective

Retrospective Idea – A simple retro to foster conversations around team safety.

What is the Psychological Safety retrospective?

The Psychological Safety retrospective helps foster open conversations around team safety. Participants are invited to identify what the team has done to create safety, what would make them feel unsafe, and what they could do to improve it.

Professor Amy C Edmondson of Harvard University first used the term psychological safety to describe a workplace environment free from interpersonal fear. It was found to be the most important attribute of high-performing teams by Google’s Project Aristotle.

By supporting conversations around psychological safety, this sprint retrospective idea is a tool that can help support the levels of safety in your team.

Psychological Safety retrospective format

What have we done to create team safety?

What actions have you taken to create safety for others? What have you observed others doing to create safety for others? What have others done that has made you feel safe?

What would make our team feel unsafe?

What would create fear in the team? What would stop us sharing ideas or speaking up? What would stop you from asking for help?

What can we do to improve team safety?

What have you learned from other teams that could support safety? What could we start doing? What could we stop doing?

Suggested icebreaker questions for the Psychological Safety retrospective

  • Describe your ideal workspace.
  • What helps you focus?
  • What are you grateful for today?

Retro rehearsal

Use the Psychological Safety retrospective to review the story of Uli. What had been done to create safety? What made the team feel unsafe? What could be done to improve safety?

Ideas and tips for your Psychological Safety retrospective

  • Allow team members to respond anonymously. This is likely to increase the level of honesty and pave the way for more effective conversations.
  • Rotate the Scrum Master. This will change the voices that are heard and give people a chance to contribute to the retrospective in a different way.
  • Use a Return on Time Invested (ROTI) tool to monitor the effectiveness of your meeting.
  • Keep your team agreements in view during your retrospective. Remember you can add to them at anytime.
  • Observe behavior and patterns. Watching for facial cues and anti patterns that might be caused by people not feeling safe. Changes of behavior are a tell-tale sign.
  • Allow pauses. Silence is not necessarily a sign that people are uncomfortable. People need time to think and respond. There may be cultural reasons that make it easier for people to speak, such as asking them to share.

How to run a Psychological Safety retrospective in TeamRetro

Start Agile Retrospective

Start your retrospective in a click
Log into TeamRetro and choose your sprint retrospective template.

Invite Your Team
Invite your team easily – no separate accounts needed
Send an email invite, a link or add to your Slack channel to get people started quickly. SSO options are also available.
Agile Retrospective Brainstorm
Time to brainstorm
Each team member can now brainstorm individually under each topic. This avoids group think and allows everyone to have their say. They can indicate when they have finished, or you can set a timer so that you know when to move onto the next stage.
Grouping of ideas after brainstorming in a retrospective meeting
Group related ideas
Drag and drop  related ideas to combine them for easier voting. TeamRetro can also automatically suggest ideas that are similar, saving you and your team valuable time.
Grouping of ideas after brainstorming in a retrospective meeting
Vote independently to avoid anchoring
Each team member votes on what they would most like to discuss further. The results won’t be displayed to everyone until you advance to Discuss.
Grouping of ideas after brainstorming in a retrospective meeting

Discuss the most important things first
You and your team discuss the top voted ideas and can capture deep dive comments.  Presentation mode allows you to walk your team through ideas one-by-one and keep the conversation focused.

Grouping of ideas after brainstorming in a retrospective meeting

Review and create actions

Easily facilitate discussion by bringing everyone onto the same page. Create action items, assign owners and due dates that will carry through for review at the next retrospective.

Grouping of ideas after brainstorming in a retrospective meeting

Share the results
Once you have finished your retro, you can share the results and actions with the team. Your retro will be stored so you can revisit them as needed.

Congratulations! You’ve just run a retro like a boss.
Want more? Read on.