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How to run a retro

Retros are invaluable for identifying opportunities to improve as a team (I recently posted about all the learnings that came out of my last retro).

The agenda is simple:

  • [5 min] Set the stage - remind the team of the goals of the retro and any general guardrails

  • [15 min] What went well?

  • [20 min] What needs improvement / what didn't go so well / what was difficult?

  • [15 min] Next steps / learnings?

If some of your team is remote, I would recommend doing this in Miro vs on a whiteboard in the room. Here's a great template we used in our retro.

General tips to run a successful retro:

1. Embrace transparency and remind the team to do so as well.

2. Don't make it personal, and don't take it personally. Avoid blame. Use language like "I felt" or "This is how I perceived things" vs "You dropped the ball" or "You didn't communicate well."

3. Have each team member spend the first few minutes of each section writing down what they felt, group similar or duplicate ideas together. Discuss your ideas as a team afterwards.

4. Outline concrete actions the team can take to improve. Share this with the whole team and broader organization to evangelize learnings and create a culture of transparency and accountability.

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