The Retro Lovefest

12 Feb 2017

A while ago, I wrote about the “retro lovefest” I run at work every few weeks. Read about it here if you haven’t yet, otherwise this post won’t make much sense.

We’ve recently reorganized the engineering team at work, and we no longer do full-team biweekly retros, to my great chagrin. I’ve tried to start a biweekly airing-of-the-grievances but it hasn’t caught on yet. Tomorrow is Galentines Day, a fabulous real holiday, and my team is going to get an email covered in whipped cream and waffles and heart-shaped sprinkles.

the unofficial galentine's day beverage (caffeine and sugar is great, but add sprinkles and suddenly it’s magical)

It’s been almost two months since I wrote a lovefest, and to be honest, I considered passing it off to someone else or dropping it altogether. I’m upset that all-team retros are no longer a thing, and it’s hard to be the one person yelling that we should keep having them. And I get it. Who on earth would say yes to “OK! Let’s spend 30 very expensive person-hours on a feel-good meeting with no agenda and no measurable benefit!”

At the same time, there are so many reasons to get together. To the people feeling invisible, it says “Yes! We see you and we want to hear what you think!” To the people feeling like they don’t fit in, it says “We care about you! We are committed to making this a better place for you to work!” And to the people who are comfortable, who don’t think the meeting is necessary, who would rather go back to their desks and work because everything is just peachy, it says “You need to listen. Inclusion/Diversity/Psychological Safety/whatever you call it is your responsibility too.”

And maybe everyone at your company is comfortable and safe and has no complaints. Maybe that company exists somewhere and you don’t need to listen to me rambling about this. But I know my company isn’t, and no company I’ve worked at was. And if you ask around, your company probably isn’t either. So listen to them! Have a very expensive meeting that doesn’t achieve much. Tell them that their voice matters, and that you’re committed to making their job better. And write them an email yelling about how great they are, and how happy you are to work with them. They’ll love you for it.