Well, it’s the start of a new year, and a time for teams to wipe the slate clean and take a fresh outlook on the year ahead and absolutely nail it. Right?

Well unfortunately, it’s rarely quite that simple. Question is, does each individual enjoy working within their current team? Do they feel psychologically safe amongst their peers? Is there anything that happened last year which they’re dragging into this year?

If you ask them individually, then you’ll probably get a generic and non-confrontational response. If the trust level is high, then you might be lucky enough to get a glimpse into the challenge they’re facing, but that won’t give you a clear view of how the broader team feels.

I like to use this simple and anonymous survey below to do a quick health check on the team. Best part is it only takes 2 minutes. Sure, it won’t tell me exactly what is wrong, but it will give me an entry point to explore engagement and psychological safety challenges. My advice here is keep it simple to begin with!


What’s all the info mean?

Well, the first one is a twist on the Net Promoter Score, but instead of assessing a product, we’re looking at how each individual feels about their team. If you’d like to learn more about Net Promoter Scores and how to calculate them, check out this valuable resource: https://delighted.com/nps-calculator

The second part is a common tool used in retrospectives to understand how comfortable individuals feel about expressing their opinions. I use this as a proxy for psychological safety.

How to run the survey?

I find the best way to run the survey is to literally take 2 minutes at the start of a retro, and ask the team to fill it out while I leave the room and have them place their responses in a box. When I come back 2 minutes later, I ask who is comfortable with the results shared publicly. If everyone is not in, then I’ll check it out the results privately. If they're comfortable to be shared publicly, then you need to consider who they are shared with and why.

In terms of scaling, this can be run at any scale, however, keep in mind what you want to do with the data and whether you’ll need to identify different teams.

Summing up

This is a great little engagement & psychological safety check tool to use during retrospectives or any other relevant forum. The key is keeping it genuinely anonymous and ensuring there will be no negative consequences coming from the results. It’s certainly not intended to be exhaustive and is designed to be simple, but it will give you an opening to explore challenges your team may be facing.

Here it is in Google Docs format, I would love to hear about how you modify and use it: https://goo.gl/PRHSDa


Skillfire is a boutique Agile Consultancy based in MelbourneContact us if you'd like to chat more about how this may apply in your workplace.

Posted by Tim Newbold on January 3, 2017