How to Run the Best Online Retrospective with Remote Teams.
Here are 5 of our own learnings and reflections when we ran our own retros with our remote teams.
- Allow time to say hello and goodbye even just a few minutes is important and is ideal for asking people to sign in a little early or on time. It could start with an icebreaker, but a simple question of how everyone is, or giving a number out of 10 engages everyone early on in the piece. Likewise, it’s too easy to press a button that shuts everyone off so allow for people to say goodbye at the end of the meeting.
- Set the etiquette for your remote meetings. This could mean turning on cameras, use of backgrounds, typing in chat for check-in, or how people actually engage in the meeting that day. Online etiquette is real. Check out this clip – if video meetings happen in a face-to-face environment and you’ll immediately see why things like background noise, how to leave the meeting, and how to ask questions and make comments suddenly become very real issues.
- Use comments and real-time feedback mechanisms. Just one of the advantages of going digital means that people can brainstorm individually without distraction, vote for ideas independently without bias, and be able to add additional comments to people’s ideas that could be worth their weight in gold. Rather than being hindered by production blocks, asking people to write down what they think as comments can enrich the topic.
- Sort out the logistics. Just like you would check the room for your in-person retro to ensure it wasn’t double-booked, that the heat or cooling was on, and that you had the right tools to do the job, the same goes for a quick tech check with your remote retro. Get the tools up and running, links ready to go, and have a tech buddy or colleague support this process and you will be able to focus more on the conversation than the technology when the time comes. If you are working with time-zones, this can be tricky negotiating a day and time that works with most people and it might mean having to alternate times for fairness or to consider asynchronous retrospectives.
- Don’t forget the basic elements of agile retrospectives. A remote retrospective does not mean that the fundamentals of an agile retrospective are cast aside. Ensuring accountability, a focus on culture and continuous improvement, follow up and follow through and that people are focused on the retrospective and not trying to solve problems in the same meeting all continue to apply.