How To Help Developers Love and Enjoy Scrum Retrospectives

Alex Vernik
Alex Vernik
Engineering Ops Specialist
Posted on
Feb 25, 2021
Updated on
Oct 3, 2022
Table of Content

As a team leader or team member within your company, you know how important it is to hold sprint retrospective meetings to go over the past sprint, what went well and what didn’t, and to plan for the future sprint. However, it is imperative that everyone is involved, engaged, and enjoying themselves. Why? Because if people are not engaged and are not enjoying themselves, then the meeting is likely to be much less productive than originally planned.

It’s true, work meetings can be somewhat of a drag. I mean, developers are required to show up at sprint retrospectives, but what’s in it for them? How can a scrum retro be enjoyable for developers, while still getting tasks done and being productive? Let’s look at 4 retrospective tips on how you can help developers love and enjoy retros while still gaining headway and getting through your agenda.

1. Give credit where credit is due

Everyone deserves a little credit, right? And everyone loves to receive a little praise every once in a while. By taking the time to give your developers credit for what they have already accomplished, you are making the retrospective that much more enjoyable for them. They will feel more motivated and engaged throughout the retrospective because they will feel good about their accomplishments and want to accomplish even more.

2. Keep it organized

No one likes a meeting in which nobody knows what’s going on. It is chaotic and gets old rather quickly. By being organized from the get-go and having an agenda to follow, things will run more smoothly and your developers will be more likely to participate and stay engaged. A little bit of organization goes a long way. It also helps to break things down into categories. For example, begin with the achievements from the past sprint, then move to what strategies worked last sprint, and then what did not work, and continue on. Having a flow to the meeting is very helpful in making it as painless and seamless as possible.

Respecting organization and structure also means not letting a developer be a team member of multiple scrum teams unless there is a considerable exception. 

Freely allowing developers to be on multiple teams is a recipe for communication failure and bandwidth problems. There isn’t a way to focus 100% on two things at once which means one (or both) of the teams are susceptible to longer waiting times and management issues. Unless the developer in question has a high experience factor, or is very suited to the topic of both scrum teams, the answer should be no to assigning them two teams. It should be considered the exception, not the rule.

3. Include knowledge and personal development

Rather than just sitting around discussing how the past sprint went and what can be done in the next sprint, try looking at this as a way to develop and lead your team. Personal development is something that companies have started getting on board with, and it serves to be an excellent tool. So why not include some personal development in your scrum retrospective? Include a short class on sales strategies or a workshop on team development. Whatever it may be, make sure that it is relatable and useful among your team.

4. Have open discussions

People are much more likely to participate in a discussion if it isn’t structured. Open up the forum for all to discuss the issues at hand. How did everyone feel about the last sprint? What suggestions might they have? When people feel comfortable with speaking up and not like it is a formal discussion, they will enjoy the conversation more.

When your scrum team actually enjoys sprint retrospectives, they’re much more likely to get things done and have a good time doing it. It will feel less like work and more like a productive social gathering, which is great in the minds of most. Keeping things light, fun, and enjoyable is an excellent way to motivate developers and allowing them to participate in retrospective meetings. It is less intimidating and more open and interesting. If you want your developers to actually enjoy retrospectives, then look into following these tips. They will help take them to a new level and allow everyone involved to enjoy them.

About the author

Alex Vernik
Engineering Ops Specialist

Engineering leader, passionate about coding products and value creation. Vast experience with managing R&D teams at various scales. Embracing innovation and transformation for constant improvement.

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