Do you think what I believe you think of me?

Sometimes the best way for the team to improve is by improving the individual members, “Do you think what I believe you think of me?” is a simple retrospective for teams up to 6 members. The team members rate each other’s most important contributions to the team and what behaviors or skills impact the team negatively. Recently I facilitated the Do you think what I believe you think of me? retrospective with a high performing team that has been together over three months. Every member of the team learned ways to improve. And to my surprise, the team enjoyed it.

Tools required

  1. A table large enough to accommodate all present but small enough to be close.
  2. Post-it® note pads in two colors and a marker for each person. The markers should be wide enough and the sticky notes big enough to allow people to read the text on the notes from a few feet away.
  3. A wall or white board to place the created notes

Steps

I have written the steps as the narrative of the facilitator with a team comprising of Huey, Dewey, and Louie Duck.

1. Introduction

The goal of this retrospective is to discover how well we know each other and ourselves. We will share what we think is the best and what needs work. First we will write down our thoughts and then we will discuss. Confirmation of our understanding by the others is nice, surprises may be even better!

I will not participate this time to allow me to focus on facilitating.

2. Gather information

We will start using the yellow Post-it® notes. For each sticky, write your own initials on the top left corner of the sticky and the initials of the person discussed in the right top corner.

Let’s start with Huey. Write HD on the right top corner of the sticky and your own initials on the top left. Write down the most important contribution Huey makes to the team. Huey, you too, write down your biggest contribution to the team. Write down the first thing that comes to mind. Don’t overthink this. The first thing you think of is often important. You have one minute.

Now let’s write down on a different sticky the one thing Huey could change, stop, or improve to help the team. Same as before:  Your initials on the left and HD on the top right. One minute – starting now. I will collect the stickies as you write and put them on the wall for our discussion.

[This sequence is repeated for Dewey, and Louie]

We are almost done. Using the blue Post-it® notes, put your initials on the top left . You have one minute to write what you think the other team members think your biggest contribution is.

Great, the last one. What does the team want you to change? Write it down.

Discussion

As you can see I have posted your comments grouped by person and for each person the greatest contribution on the right and the opportunities to improve on the left. There is no particular order except that your assumptions of what the others think of you are at the bottom.

Let’s all read and then discuss one column at a time.

After Action Review

Yep. We did a five minute review of the meeting. Did we enjoy it? Was it valuable? What can we do better next time?

What we learned the first time I did this retrospective

  • We were spending too much time to come up with the comments. We actually changed this midway during the retro to the one minute time limit described above. ➡ You can always improve, even in the middle of a retrospective.
  • Some of us  focused on technical aspects others on team behavior. In the After Action Review we  thought next time we should set the stage clearly. Now I am not so sure. It is interesting to see what is at the top of people’s mind.
  • Some team member contributions were confirmed, but somehow this was the first time we as a team recognized the contribution
  • One team member obviously had low confidence. The team appreciated her contribution a lot more than she thought. The team immediately swarmed to support her. The results within days after the retro were unbelievable. Increased confidence and strong practical support from the team.
  • The team bonded. Opening up this way creates a bond

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