Mad Sad Glad RetrospectiveMad Sad Glad Retrospective

Mad/Sad/Glad Retrospective Template

Conduct a retrospective on understanding the emotions and feelings of the team.

About the Mad Sad Glad Template

What is Mad Sad Glad?

After a Sprint, it can be helpful for the team to pause and take stock of how they feel. This is crucial for maintaining morale and getting the most out of each Sprint. But sometimes, it can be hard to gauge your team’s feelings with open-ended questions like “How are you feeling?” That’s why many teams choose to employ the Mad Sad Glad retrospective.

Mad Sad Glad is a popular technique for examining your team member's emotions and encouraging them to think about how they feel. You can use the retrospective to highlight the positive feelings your team might have after a Sprint, but also to underline concerns or questions they might have going forward.

How to use the Mad Sad Glad template

The facilitator should give the respondents 30-60 minutes to think about how they feel about the previous sprint. Then, allow the respondents some time to take stock of their feelings and write down the highlights on the whiteboard. Were there parts of the Sprint that left them angry? Upset? Or satisfied? When the team is finished writing, bring everyone together to discuss. The facilitator can ask followup questions and take notes throughout the process.

4 tips for running a Mad Sad Glad retrospective

1. Give people space and time to reflect

Make sure the team has about 30 to 60 minutes of uninterrupted time to take stock of how they feel. Encourage people to take copious notes. Make sure the room is quiet and out of the way.

2. Make sure phones are turned off

Ask all attendees to turn off their phones so they can focus on the retrospective. If people are distracted by their phones, then they will find it harder to reflect.

3. Be inclusive

Assure everyone that there are no right or wrong answers. Remember, the goal of Mad Sad Glad is take stock of how everyone is feeling, not to brainstorm process or strategy.

4. Keep the focus on emotions

Encourage your team to focus on emotion, not action. People who might feel uncomfortable sharing their feelings sometimes instead try to pivot to strategy. Gently encourage them to avoid that.

3 reasons to use a Mad Sad Glad retrospective?

The Mad Sad Glad Retrospective is specifically focused on the team's emotional journey, and this is a unique approach with different benefits from a normal agile retrospective.

Build trust

By giving team members a space to discuss their feelings and emotions about the work they’ve done, you encourage honesty and forthrightness. Creating more honest, open, and positive teams ultimately helps team members trust each other. 

Improve morale

Almost everyone will struggle with certain things or get frustrated, and oftentimes workplaces don’t provide an avenue to talk about these frustrations. Giving employees an opportunity to talk through their difficulties will help them feel more welcomed, and ultimately boost morale.

Increase engagement

If team members are frustrated and don’t feel heard, they tend to check out. With a Mad Sad Glad retrospective, those team members can speak up and work towards solving their problems and building a more inclusive workspace where people can stay engaged.

When should you run a Mad Sad Glad retrospective?

This type of retrospective can be especially valuable when there is a negative team dynamic, or if there is tension but team members haven't spoken about it yet. Participants can find it useful to use a structured framework to talk about their emotions – particularly in a fast-paced, results-focused agile environment.

Mad/Sad/Glad Retrospective Template

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