When coaching new ScrumMasters we often get asked what people should do if teams don’t want to come to meetings like the retrospective, or standups. Our answer is usually to ask if participants are getting value from the meetings. People usually want to attend meetings they get value from. If they don’t want to attend, try to find out why they are not getting value.
Based on this we have also recommend the Explorer, Shopper, Vacationer, Prisoner (ESVP) checkin activity for retrospectives (or other meetings). It is an anonymous way to find out if people really want to be there or not. To help make this anonymous we print out cards so that people just have to put a checkmark in the right square. That way you can’t even tell from the handwriting who filled in the card. Once people have filled them in ask them to fold the paper in half and put in a box.
You can then open each one from the box and write up the results e.g. 2 Explorers, 1 Shopper, 3 Prisoners. Once you’ve done this you can have a conversation about how to continue with the whole group. Try not to single out anyone or guess who the prisoners or vacationers are. If you have a lot of prisoners you might decide to let people leave the room if they aren’t interested, or to make the next retrospective voluntary. As the facilitator you might also ask the room if there is something you can change to help them change the way they feel.
You can download the cards for yourself below. One page has enough cards for 6 people.