How’s my facilitating?

One of the hats I wear at Asynchrony is retrospective facilitator: I help teams improve themselves through self-reflection. But how do I know how I’m doing as a facilitator?

Improvement is predicated on feedback, so I like to quickly obtain feedback from the retrospective attendees so that I can adjust what I do for the next meeting. The format I’ve been using lately is based on the net promoter scoring system. At the end of the retro, I ask, “On a scale of one to five, five being very likely, how likely is it that you would recommend the retrospective experience you’ve just had to your colleagues? And if it’s less than five, how could I help make it a five?” Granted, the question is a bit hypothetical — even on my best days, I can’t imagine people going around the office saying “I wish you could’ve been at my retrospective today!” But I think it suffices to provide a simple framework for meaningful feedback.

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In the example above, the participants gave me a 60% Net Promoter Score (I treat fives as “promoters” and anything below a four as a “detractor”). That’s fine in a quantitative sense, as I can track my average over time, but what really interests me is the qualitative feedback, as it instructs me in actionable ways. For example:

  • One response was “it was kinda awkward at times due to hesitant participation.” This is a clue that I might want to design an activity for next time that creates better conversation or helps people feel more comfortable.
  • Another was “seems like we don’t have a lot to cover yet.” I didn’t do my job here: Even high-performing teams have things to improve, and the facilitator should help the team go beyond the surface. So this directs me to plan something more engaging and that helps the team mine their experiences a bit deeper.

I keep a running log of quantitative and qualitative feedback in a Google spreadsheet. This allows me to look for patterns over a broader time scale. And as I prepare for the next retrospective, I review the most recent feedback, which always gives me something to improve on. Just like I’m helping the teams to do.

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