Our CEO, Rob Villeneuve, was recently featured on the Speak Up podcast hosted by Ray Gillenwater.

Employee happiness and a healthy work environment are two key factors when discussing the efficiency and effectivity of a team. In part one of this blog post, Rob discusses the importance of agile retrospectives in relation to individual, team, and organizational development. Besides being highly beneficial for professional development, retrospectives also have a big impact on the emotional well-being of employees.

“Retrospectives make people happier at work because… if you feel like you can actually have a positive, tangible impact on your company and on your job, you are way more motivated – way more engaged to do good work,” explains Gillenwater.

In addition to retrospectives, one of the ways to check in on the emotions of the team is to do an activity – or, play a game, as Rob calls it – called “Mad, Sad, Glad”.

“It’s a super straight forward game. You ask people, over the past week, what is something that’s made you mad, something that’s made you sad, and something that’s made you glad,” explains Villeneuve, “People write on cue cards things that happened over a specific period of time that cause these emotions.”

How the game is played is critical to it’s success. Because team members are writing down their thoughts on paper, everyone has to express themselves in the same way. Those who are typically very vocal are reduced to the size of a card to convey their idea, and someone who is typically shy is usually more comfortable writing and they will feel the need to contribute in order to be part of the process.

Once everyone is finished writing, the cards are collected and organized under corresponding columns, so that the whole team can see them. Then, a team leader (or “scrum master”, as they are called in the Agile world) will go through each individual card, asking who wrote each card and why they wrote it. It is important to extract the most information as possible out of each card. In doing so, you instantly get a sense of where the team is at.

“If they have more “mads” than “glads”, then that’s probably an unhealthy team. Were all the “mads” the same things? They came up with them all independently, so it shows that you have one big problem. Or were they all different things? A very quick analysis of the pattern you get gives you some pretty big insight into how your team’s functioning,” says Villeneuve.

Constant and honest feedback is necessary to grow and become better as an organization. Besides using agile retrospectives and “Mad, Sad, Glad”, Rebel uses programs such as Speak Up and Tinypulse to better enable open communication.

“Not all ideas are best structured in the form of mad, sad, glad. We do retrospectives, but that’s not to say that they’re the be all, end all,” says Villeneuve, “We’re tried to make it very clear that we want feedback. Some things are hard to hear. Some feelings aren’t great. It’s not all positive. But if we know about it, there’s an opportunity to do something about it – to address it. There shouldn’t really be fear of repercussion for those who are brave enough to speak it and to share it. There’s no repercussions for speaking your mind and being negative, because if there were, then all of a sudden all the feedback’s skewed and it’s completely invaluable.”

Listening to feedback is a huge part of who Rebel is. All of these tools not only help shape the culture of the organization, but also the products that are produced.

These tools and activities aren’t limited to tech companies. They can be applied to all kinds of professional disciplines in order to create a healthier, happier work environment for employees. If anything, that is one goal that everyone can agree on.