Why Your Team Needs Retrospective Meetings & How To Run Them

Effective retrospectives can help your team reflect on opportunities for continuous growth. Learn how to make them successful

October 4, 2022
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How would you describe your job to a five year old?
What season would you be?
What is a weird food you have tried? Would you eat it again?
What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Would you go in the mother-ship with aliens if they landed on Earth tomorrow?
What is your favorite season?
Do prefer working from home or the office?
What is your earliest memory of this job?
What is the best thing you have bought so far this year?
What is the earliest book you remember?
If you had to move to another country, which one would you choose?
You are the best criminal mastermind in the world. What crime would you commit if you knew you would get away with it?
What is your favorite movie genre to watch?
What was the last thing you ate?
What person from history would you add to Mount Rushmore?
What is a weird fact you know?
What is your favorite part of working from home?
Were the Spice Girls a good team?
Imagine you can instantly learn any language. Which would you choose?
If you could live in any state, which state would you pick?
Which fictional team is the best team of all time?
What did you want to be when you grew up?
What do you usually eat for a quick lunch?
What simple food will you never eat?
Show us the weirdest thing you have in the room with you right now.
Would you rather stay at a hotel or an AirBNB?
What is your favorite movie genre to watch?
Are you more productive in the morning or at night?
Who is someone in your community that makes a difference?
Who was your most unique pet?
Choose one famous person from history you want on your team during a zombie apocalypse.
What is a good way to give back to the community?
Which song could you listen to over and over again?
Is Hugh Grant funny?
What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
Would you want to have an imaginary friend today? Did you have one as a child?
What actor or actress would you want to play you in the movie about your life?
What is the best super power?
What is your New Years resolution?
You can only eat one food again for the rest of your life. What is it?
What is the best work holiday?
What is the first gift you remember receiving?
Would you rather join Metallica or Backstreet Boys?
What is the best example of a community you have seen?
What is an easy way to do something nice for someone?
Show us your phone background and tell the story behind why you picked this image.
What was your first job?
Pick any band to play at your funeral.
If you could have an unlimited supply of one thing for the rest of your life, what would you pick?
Which superpower would you give to your arch enemy?
What is the most obscure superpower you would want?
What emoji best describes how you are feeling right now?
If you could live in any country, which country would you pick?
Would you rather live in a city or a town?
What is your favorite holiday?
What is something you accomplished as part of a team?
What is your standard office lunch?
What is your most used phone app?
What is your favorite season?
Have you ever won something as a team?
Imagine you are a professional baseball player. What is your introduction song?
Beach holiday or ski trip?
Have you ever been to a funny comedy show?
Would you rather live at the North Pole or the South Pole?
What is your favorite song to sing?
If you could live in any state, which state would you pick?
Imagine you could teleport anywhere. Where would you go right now?
What is the most unusual job you have heard of?
What was the last thing you ate?
You can visit any fictional time or place. Which would you pick?
What do your family and friends think you do all day?
What movie do you wish you could watch again for the first time?
Show us your most-used emoji.
What was the most unique style or fashion trend you ever embraced?
What movie defined your generation?
You are stranded on a remote desert island. Are you alone or with your worst enemy?
What is your favorite knock-knock joke?
Have you ever told someone Santa is not real?
Do you know how to speak more than one language?
On a scale of 1 – 10, how much of a team player are you?
What is your #1 recommendation in this city?
What is your favorite holiday?
What bucket list item do you most want to check off in the next six months?
What is your favorite mythical creature?
What was the first way you made money?
If you could be great at any Olympic sport, which would it be?
Which song could you listen to over and over again?
When did you start liking/hating mushrooms?
Where is your favorite vacation spot?
Do you take your PTO all at one time, or another way?
Which show do you remember most from your childhood?
Which beverage goes best with pizza?
Would you want to have a personal assistant follow you around everywhere and do what you asked of them?
Have you ever met your idol?
What did you want to be when you grew up?
Would you rather live 100 years in the past or 100 years in the future?
What is your hobby?
When you are alone in the car, what volume is the music at?
Imagine you no longer have to work. How would you spend a Tuesday?
What is your favorite type of sandwich?

Meetings are crucial to the effectiveness of every team. You see, without meetings, there would be no communication; without communication, the team will not be aligned. Everything ends up messy. 

For Agile teams, a retrospective meeting is one of the most important keys to growth. It’s a time to reflect on a past project, gather insights and use the data to promote constant improvement. 

As Thomas S. Monsoon puts it, “The past is behind, learn from it. The future is ahead, prepare for it. The present is here, live it.”

This article will explore the whats, whys, and hows of retrospective meetings. 

Need help creating a team retrospective workflow? Watch the video below!

What is a Retrospective Meeting?

A retrospective meeting is a structured meeting where teams reflect on completed projects. During this meeting, participants get to highlight the successes and failures of the project. They also identify aspects that require improvement.

For agile teams, this meeting holds after a product has shipped. The team discusses what happened during the product’s development and release phase. They also consider what went well and what could be improved. 

At the end of the retro, the team takes these learnings and implements them during the next product development cycle - improving both their output quality and work culture.

Wondering who is responsible for retrospective meetings?

The Scrum Master typically runs a sprint retrospective meeting. Attendees include the product owner, the development team, and the Scrum Master. For Agile teams, any of the team members can facilitate the meeting. By taking turns to facilitate the retro, the team will have renewed activity choices and won’t slide into a boring routine.

Start using Assembly’s Retrospective template now, or book a demo today to learn more.

Why Do You Have Retrospective Meetings?

There are different reasons why you have retrospective meetings. The major ones are:

  • To discover and fix issues early in the product development cycle

Having your team share challenges and successes in a transparent manner helps them identify potential issues in the production and project management processes. These can then be fixed before kicking off the next product design cycle. 

  • To foster a safe, transparent environment. 

A well-executed retro encourages each team member to share their thoughts on how the project went. Being able to share suggestions and viewpoints, give feedback, discuss success stories, and brainstorm solutions will make them feel heard, like their ideas will be taken seriously. It’s a great way to boost trust, confidence, and team spirit.

  • To help the team learn and grow. 

To become a high-performing team, every member needs to improve and learn to adapt. Your job as a team leader is to give everyone the support they need to grow and develop with each project. Having a retrospecting meeting is one way to achieve that. It is an excellent opportunity to identify aspects of the project where the entire team needs to improve. 

  • To set better expectations. 

Some projects appear easy at first. Leading to unrealistic expectations. Eventually, you discover that you and your team have bitten off more than you can chew. But, you push through and deliver. Great job! How do you ensure this does not happen again? Retros. 

A retrospective meeting is a perfect time to recap the entire cycle and figure out better ways to manage expectations and set more realistic timeframes and capabilities. You’ll also be able to assess external pressures that affect your output.

What is the main goal of a retrospective meeting?

The goal is to reflect on the past to improve future outcomes. Retros help teams inspect past situations and adapt their outcomes to future realities. 

Retrospective meetings are only useful when they can improve the planning and structure for future projects. You’re able to get actionable data on your team - how well they work together, what aspects they struggle with, how you can help them become more effective, and how much they can achieve within a certain period. Armed with this info, you can now plan your next project.

When Should You Have a Retrospective Meeting?

Timing is essential to the effectiveness of every meeting. For retrospectives, it’s important that the team have some time to breathe after the end of a project. On the other hand, you should not leave it off for too long that they struggle to remember important details. 

Retrospectives should typically hold about five to seven days after the project ends. This gives the team enough time to settle down and gather their thoughts.

So, now that you’ve booked the meeting, how long should a retrospective last?

Typically, 3 hours. This timing works best for one-month Sprints. For shorter projects, a 30-minute to 1-hour retro works. You can also choose to dedicate 30 minutes weekly to review the project’s progress. 

How Do You End a Retrospective?

To be effective, a retrospective must end right. Each participant needs to leave the meeting feeling good and confident - like they’ve achieved something and are sure of the next steps. Tailoring it with a sprint retrospective meeting agenda will ensure that the meeting ends with:

  1. A clear summary of the last project
  2. A solid action plan that is divided into smaller, clear assigned tasks and set deadlines.
  3. A detailed follow-up process with plans for feedback and measuring results.
  4. A set date for the next retro meeting.

It is also important to get feedback on the retrospective meeting. This will help you find ways to keep improving it. 

What is The Difference Between Sprint Reviews and Sprint Retrospectives?

While Sprint retrospectives focus on the process of the project, a Sprint review focuses on assessing the product itself. The goal of a Sprint review is to analyze a product’s progress and its likely completion date. It typically happens before the Sprint retrospective.

A Sprint review aims to maximize and optimize the product’s value. On the other hand, a Sprint retrospective focuses on the processes, the tools used, and the people involved in the product development cycle. A retrospective is the last meeting of each cycle or sprint.

Keep in mind that the purpose of a retrospective is to improve. So don't show up expecting that you've got things all figured out. Take your time to think over the results, consider everything people have to say, and try to find solutions to what you've learned through retrospectives. 

Make Your Team Better With Retrospectives

The bottom line is that using retrospectives to learn from your mistakes and improve your team's performance will pay huge dividends in the long run. So if you don't already have regular retrospective meetings, consider running one now! And if you need help, check out Assembly’s Team Retrospective Template!

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is Assembly SOC 2 compliant?

Yes, at Assembly, security is a top priority. Each quarter, we have ongoing security work that is everyone’s responsibility. While we maintain a strong security posture, it was important for us to prove to our customers that we do everything we claim to do. This led us to pursue a SOC 2 Type II report that would provide evidence of our compliance with industry gold-standard security practice.

What's the ROI for employee recognition?

There is study after study showing that employee recognition leads to increased engagement. This in return creates an environment where employees are happier and more motivated which increase productivity and reduces voluntary turnover significantly. In order to filled critical roles, companies tend to spend nearly twice the value of an annual salary. Assembly is an investment in your employees that supports your bottom line.

Does Assembly offer longer-term contracts?

Yes, we will offer contracts for companies with longer-term agreements to help larger customers have more certainty around future costs.

The minimum agreement term is a 12-month subscription.

Does Assembly offer onboarding support?

We do and for FREE! Any new customer needing further support to get started with Assembly to ensure you're set up for success can request custom onboarding support. Improving your employee experience is about much more than just using our amazing software; it’s about transforming your business to create a workplace that people love. That’s much easier to do with the personal support and advice from our passionate people experts.

Is there a free version of Assembly?

Yes. We offer a completely free plan for up to 50 team members. This plan is intended for teams or organizations that are looking to get started with an employee engagement tool. Keep in mind, this plan is limited in features.

All customers can open an Assembly account for free and get started without a credit card. Then you can change plans as necessary.

How much do rewards cost?

At the time of redemption (when your employees exchange their points for a paid reward) you'll pay face value. If a reward is a $10 Amazon gift card, your cost will be $10. All paid rewards are billed for on a monthly basis.

The good news is that you don't have to pay for rewards upfront because we only charge you when points are redeemed, not when they're earned.

Does Assembly offer discounts?

We offer discounts or educational or charitable organizations. In order to secure a discount, you'll first need to book a demo with a customer support specialist.

For all other organizations, we are willing to consider longer-term agreements in exchange for discounts. To set up annual plans or longer, you will need to book a demo with a customer support specialist.

How do I cancel my plan if needed?

If you're on a month to month plan, you can go here and cancel anytime. If you're having concerns or need help setting up your account for success, you can always book a demo with a customer support specialist.

If you're on a longer-term custom plan, you'll need to reach out to your customer support specialist to cancel your account or email us at support@joinassembly.com.

What customizations are available?

Great question! You can customize your core values to match your organization's to boost and track alignment. You can change your currency from the 🏆 emoji (our default) to any emoji of your choice. You can swap our logo for your own. You can also set up company culture rewards such as, "Lunch with the CEO," "Buy a book on us," and so much more!

Who can give or receive recognition?

While we recommend a peer to peer set up where anyone in your organization can give or receive recognition, you can set up Assembly however you want. If you need to limit the people who can give or receive recognition, that's perfectly fine and can be done from your Admin, here.

What integrations are available?

Assembly connects to the tools your employees use every day to offer an easy, seamless experience with minimal change management.  

Assembly has integrations with HCM/HRIS systems like ADP, Google, Office 365, and Slack. We also integrate with communication tools like Slack and Teams so you and your employees can access Assembly wherever they work now.

What's your average adoption rate?

That depends on the company's permissions set up. That said, over 90% of the employees on Assembly's platform are recognized on a monthly basis. That means nearly every employee across all of our customers are receiving regular recognition from their peers, managers, or leadership. We're extremely proud of this.

Must rewards be set up to use Assembly?

They are not required. You can use Assembly without having rewards set up. However, we don't recommend it if you intend to have a high adoption and usage rate. You can always keep the costs down by offering internal culture rewards that are fulfilled by you internally.

Are points required to use Assembly?

No, you can remove allowances from anyone or everyone. It's up to you but we do recommend using points whether they're worth a real dollar value or not. Companies that use points have a much higher engagement rate even if those points don't exchange for real dollars.

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