Retrospective: 360 feedback

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The Icebreaker

As the icebreaker for the 360 feedback retrospective, I selected a fun and easy icebreaker to get people actively engaged and present in the session. Because the 360 feedback retrospective itself is a more challenging exercise, I used an easy icebreaker that’s also fun and not too serious. 

“Post a picture or meme that describes your perspective of the last iteraion” speaks for itself. Have everybody Google a picture or meme and post it on the board. When everybody posted something, quickly ask to describe their picture or meme in a few words. This gives a general feeling about the last iteration. Some team members might even create their own memes on the spot… Yes, that happened already.

The retrospective format

The 360 feedback format is more of a team building activity than a sprint retrospective activity. Anyway, the sprint retrospective is a good ceremony to do this exercise with your team. 

First of all, make sure the environment is safe, and everybody present also feels safe and comfortable. The activity goes according to the following steps:

  1. Give everybody some time to write feedback about the other team members. This can be appreciations and also points for improvements. During the “writing down” step, there is no discussion yet.
  2. Ask the group to form a circle. In a remote setting, the board is set up in a circle already (see template below).
  3. Ask one participant to sit in the center of the circle.
  4. Ask everybody in the team to read their feedback about that person out loud. The person receiving the feedback can respond, but it is not mandatory. Receiving the feedback is often sufficient.
  5. Change the participant in the circle until everybody received feedback.

The 360 feedback exercise creates trust and strengthens the relationship between team members. From my experience, not everybody will be comfortable with this kind of exercise from the first time. This may also prevent them from giving true feedback, they will most likely say more “general” and superficial things. This is not a problem. If you do this exercise every now and then with the team, their confidence will grow and the feedback will also be more in depth. Give the team the time to get comfortable with this kind of exercise.

About last retrospective...

A crucial part of the retrospective is to reflect on the outcome of the previous one! Teams often forget to do this, but it very important as it gives the team the confirmation that the action items are actually important… And that we want to make sure we improve! There is a section on the top of the template where you can refer to the action items of the last retrospective. Go over them, see how you are doing in regards to them, and decide what to do next.

Rate your retro!

At the very end of the retrospective, I ask the team to quickly rate their retrospective with focus on: 

  1. Did we have a good discussion? Did we speak openly, and respect each others opinion?
  2. Do we have valuable action items? And, are we confident that we will do them in the next sprint?

Other things about the format

On the very top of the format, you can see 2 elements:

  • Action items / experiments: this is the place where you would write down the action items during the retrospective. This makes it easy to summarize them at the end of the session.
  • Idea for the next retrospective: I always like to foresee an area where people can give feedback or give input for the next retrospective. This can be feedback on the current format, ideas for a new format, tips, general feedback… Anything that can help us make the next retrospective even better! I would not make it required for people to give input in this, make them feel free to give input when they come up with something.

Download the template (for free)

You can download the Miro template for free below:

If you don’t have a premium version of Miro, you can also download the picture at the top of the screen and create the board in Google Drawings.

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