Introduce Retros – Mitigate Conflict


Maybe you have a gut feeling that something is not working well within the team. There might have been many different small indicators, such as facial expressions, the mood of colleagues, glances that are being exchanged. How can you notice conflicts at an early stage? And how can you prevent conflicts within your team before it is too late and things escalate?

Introducing so-called “retros” for your team can help.

This tool helps to openly talk about the team mood and difficulties by giving space to express emotions and address conflict. It also helps to create a feedback culture within the team, which is also useful after returning to the office.


Online retros are meetings of 1 to 1.5 hours that take place at regular intervals, e.g. every four weeks. All team members should be present. As the manager you can facilitate the discussion if there is no agile coach in the team.

Recommended methods for virtual retros are “Starfish (see figure)” and the “Ship Metaphor” (illustration).

Starfish – If you’re using a shared whiteboard (e.g. Skype for Business), draw the star and label the sections. After a short brainstorming session, every employee can add their feedback on the whiteboard.

Even without a shared whiteboard you can use this method: you can share your screen via videoconferencing and visualize the starfish in (e.g.).PowerPoint. Collect the answers of the team members for each question (for example, What should we stop doing?) and add them to the whiteboard.

Ship Metaphor – What is driving your team right now, what is slowing them down, where do you see future risks? Is the view of the lighthouse clear or are there course changes necessary? See above for whiteboard usage.


Especially if you and your team are not used to giving permanent feedback yet, here are some helpful basic rules for the retro:

– Focus on the changeable

– Continuous improvement

– Grow stronger as a team and solve problems together

– Address any obstacles transparently

Also: stay tuned! Even if the contributions in the first retros are not numerous or the added value is not immediately obvious. Especially rather introverted employees often hesitate to open up. For you as a manager, it is one of the most valuable tools to provide a framework for discussing emotional issues and cooperation topics. Set a good example, but also always pay attention to a positive social interaction!

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