I was recently asked by another Scrum Master to facilitate a retrospective for his team as he wanted to take part. The team were looking back over their Alpha phase of their development which was 10 weeks or so long.

As you would expect a lot of items came up during the retrospective as the team were looking back across quite a large period of time. One thing that was quite interesting was that some members of the team felt in their sprint retrospectives that they weren’t given the chance to voice their opinions as the retro’s very quickly became very tech heavy and in-depth (the team have faced a lot of technical challenges during this phase). This left the non developers on the team feeling like they were not really included in the conversation and lead to some discontent and bad feeling, which as anyone will tell you is not fantastic for team morale and productivity.

When i facilitate a retrospective i encourage people to talk about their feelings as i find people relate and understand feelings better than the actual cause¬†of the issue. Knowing what the cause is is important but for people who don’t have the expertise in a given field or practice can easily switch off as they feel they don’t understand the subject matter enough. Talking about how you feel (or how something made you feel) enables people to understand your emotions on the subject and from experience have made it easier for a group to discuss the issues and actions they can do about it.

So if a team member says “the code repository wasn’t available for day” in a retrospective i would interject and ask them how that made them feel. Usually it turns into “i was frustrated that the outage meant i couldn’t complete the tasks related to the story i was working on”.

It isn’t always for negative emotions either, getting people to describe their positive emotions even for obvious positive items in a sprint can work wonders for team morale. People tend to skip over the positive in a retrospective but highlighting the positive and celebrating “wins” for the team members are equally as important as talking over the stuff that didn’t go so well.