Individual strengths retrospective — reinforce everyone’s contributions

By Rebecca Jones

5 July 2021

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Team members at a whiteboard while taking part in an Individual strengths retrospective. Photo by Tool Inc on Unsplash.

The Individual strengths retrospective is a great way to level up a team by reflecting on and reinforcing their individual contributions. Here’s how you run one.

When to use this retrospective

Use the Individual strengths retrospective when:

You want to inspire and energise the team by reminding them how they contribute to the team’s success.

What you need

For the Individual strengths retrospective you need:

  • Whiteboard
  • Post-it notes
  • Sharpies
  • Timer

The outcome

At the end of the Individual strengths retro, each team member will have an individual goal. Everyone will know one way they can use their strengths to level up the team, reinforcing everyone’s contributions.

Time

1 hour

Setup

Write up a whiteboard like this:

Whiteboard drawn up with the Individual strengths retro outcomes, agenda and a table with columns for the team members, their strengths and goals.

How to run the Individual strengths retro

1. Opener

Pick the opener of your choice.

2. Individual’s biggest strength

Ask everyone to silently brainstorm what they think their own biggest strength is. What’s the top thing they bring to the team? Write this on a post-it. Don’t share it yet.

1 minute brainstorm

3. Everyone else’s biggest strengths

Ask everyone to silently brainstorm what they think everyone else’s biggest strengths are. Write these on post-its. Use a separate post-it for each team member. Don’t share these yet.

2 minute brainstorm

4. Share the strengths

Pick someone to start with. Ask the rest of the team to take turns to tell them what they think their biggest strength is. Post these beside their name on the board.

After the team has shared, the person then shares what they think their own strength is, and adds it to the board.

Repeat for each team member.

5. Pair up

Pair people up. These pairs take turns to discuss their strengths. These could be the strengths they identified themselves, or those shared by the team.

You can prompt them to discuss:

  • if there was anything that surprised them
  • how they have demonstrated the strength
  • if they have any ideas how they can take advantage of that strength in the team.

After the time is up, swap people around until everyone has been paired with everyone. In bigger teams, limit this to a couple of pairings.

4 minutes per round, 2 minutes talking about each person in the pair

6. Come up with individual retro goals

Ask the team to reflect on the insights they’ve gained from these discussions. Based on this, they’ll silently brainstorm one retro goal for themselves. How can they harness their strengths to level up the team or the project?

1 minute brainstorm

7. Share goals

Everyone shares their goals with the team, along with when they’ll get them done. There should be a goal for every team member.

8. Close

Pick the close of your choice.

9. Make the goals visible

Post them on your physical board and share them digitally. That way it’s easy to keep them in mind and to follow up on them at the next retro.

Further reading

The art of the retrospective

Retrospective plans

All retrospective ideas

Welcome aboard retrospective — when new team members join

Golden moments retrospective — when a project or phase ends

Development continuum retro — tailor your skill-building

Google Forms remote retro — step-by-step guide with pros and cons

The Treasure Island Retrospective — learn what motivates your team

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