The Safety Check is a fast and effective way to verify how safe people feel participating in the retrospective. It collects anonymous notes so that participants don’t feel singled out or are intimidated to express themselves.
Running the activity:
- Ask participants to choose a number between 1 and 5 that indicates how safe they feel within the group and write it in a sticky note (the numbers should be taken anonymously, so everyone should use the same sticky note and pen color). Below you can see the meaning for each number:
* 5: No problem, I’ll talk about anything.
* 4: I’ll talk about almost anything; a few things might be hard.
* 3: I’ll talk about some things, but others will be hard to say.
* 2: I’m not going to say much; I’ll let others bring up issues.
* 1: I’m not going to talk at all, I don’t feel safe.
- Collect the sticky note from each participant (use a hat or some container to keep the activity anonymous).
- Make the safety check result visible to the whole group.
- Acknowledge the results and decide what’s next.
What to do with the results?
Here is what can be said when:
The safety is high: “It seems like many folks in the room are up for talking about many topics, therefore it is worth moving to the next activity, which should trigger valuable conversations.”
The safety is medium: “As we can see on the safety check results, some folks are not willing to talk about all topics. Let’s keep this in mind and be respectful to each other’s participation.”
The safety is low: “As we can see on the safety check results, the group safety seems low. For this reason, let’s use the remaining time and run an activity which might help us increase the group safety level.”
Fostering a safe environment is a key element for any group activity. Acknowledging how the group feels allows you to act and address the situation. If the safety is low or medium, we recommend changing your main course activity to the Creating Safety activity.
Keep in mind that there are other activities that can be used as check-in, so change it up as needed.
Remote-team advice: This activity works well for remote teams. Share a remote board with the participants, make sure that the notes will be completely anonymous, then ask everyone to enter their input.