Give feedback to new team members with SaMoLo (#17)

Many of the activities in Retromat are also useful outside of retrospectives in other meetings or workshops. Point in turn: SaMoLo (#17) is how we first started giving feedback to new colleagues at sipgate.

It’s helpful for newbies to hear how they’re doing in order to adjust to their new workspace. In traditional companies this might be done by a team lead or superior. At sipgate, this is the team’s job.

Although new members tend to come up as a topic in the team retrospective, it’s usually as a side note and only when they’ve just started. We felt that onboarding new colleagues is important enough to give each their own dedicated meeting with the following structure:

All team members except the new one meet and collect feedback in 3 categories:  “Behavior we’d like to see the same amount of”, “More of” and “Less of” (SaMoLo). They discuss the issues, group them and decide who will present the feedback. Then the new colleague joins to hear and discuss what they’re doing great and where they can improve.

The closing words belong to the new hire: They can give feedback to the team. Maybe there’s something they’d like to change, too.

Maybe you’re wondering, why the newbie is not present the whole time?
I think that will probably work as long as the new member is doing well.
As soon as it’s not going so well, the group needs time to sync and make sure that the others are agreeing that something is a problem.
As we wanted the process to be consistent, we opted for the “collecting topics always without the new member” even when someone is doing great.

[Word of caution: If someone’s performance is so poor that their future in the team / company is jeopardized, most teams have trouble expressing this. If you think it didn’t become clear during the retrospective, either pick one of the group to convey the severity of the problem in private or escalate it. It’s only fair to tell the new hire that things are serious.]

These meetings took about 30 minutes and we did them 1 month and 4 month after someone started. (6 month is the customary probation period for new hires in Germany.)

Since then we have evolved Peer Feedback into a 1-hour format with which we give everybody (not just newbies) feedback twice a year. What do you do to make sure new hires and old hires get enough feedback?

PS: This is Activity #17 in Retr-O-Mat

PS: Did you know there's a Retromat eBook Bundle? Ready-made retrospective plans for beginners and all activities from Retromat for experienced facilitators. Check out the Retromat books