Competency Wheel

A team development retrospective using competencies chosen by the Team.

Benefits of using the Competency Wheel

When you work in a big company, occasionally management wants to know how your team is doing. Often, Scrum Masters or team coaches, show some velocity charts, then. Charts like those may help the team to reflect on output, but there is more in team development than just numbers and measured output. 

The Competency Wheel helps the Team:

  • to change the perspective from numbers and output to soft skills of the team 
  • to synchronize their understanding of a high performant team
  • to determine their individual  path for team skills development and to feel autonomy

Preperation

  • Download the competency cards here, print them out and cut them.
  • Prepare a flip chart with a wheel divided in 3 sections (or more depending on the duration of the retrospective). Each section is for one competency. Choose three (or more) Sprints and one unique color for each Sprint. The wheel should also reflect a scale from 1 to 10 via concentric smaller circles.
Flip Chart preparation

Set Up

To make your team familiar with the cards, spread them on a table, where everybody can see them. If your team members are new to each other, everyone now chooses the competency at which she thinks she is particularly good at.

If the Team is working together for a longer period, you can let them pick a card for each other, where they think the respective team member is notably good.

Now you can ask them why they picked the specific competencies. This warm up should not take too much time, because it is just to get to know the cards and prepare the next round.

Gather Data

You might want to start the “Gather Data” phase, by mentioning, that a team is able to develop compentencies as a team that no individual on the team has on her own. Folks say: a team is more than the sum of its parts.

Spread the cards again on the table and let your team members pick three (or more) of them. The chosen competencies should be those ones, who are important for your team.

It is very important, that your team has the same understanding of each picked competency. So let them discuss, what each of them mean for your team. There are some explanations on the cards, but your team members may have other suggestions. Don’t forget to write these suggestions on post its, so that the common understanding is transparent for everyone.

Generate Insights

Now let your team members rate every competency. One is – we suck at this. Ten is – we are perfect.

Ask them where they would like to be on the scale and let team members have a discussion, what their common view is. Then, let them mark these common positions on your flipchart.

Decide what to do

For every compentency on the flipchart, facilitate a discussion, what steps they would have to initialize to reach their target mark. Have participants formulate actionable items from those steps and prioritize them in an appropriate order to include them in your backlog.

You might want to repeat the Generate Insights and Descide what to do phases for every single selected competency instead of first rating all competencies and then defining action items for all.

Wrap up

Ask people, why they are confident, that the action items they defined will actually help them to improve as a team.

It is very helpful to repeat this retrospective from time to time, so that people are able to learn how developing competencies affects their team life.

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