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Temperature Reading

Continuously Building Your Team

17 October 2013

Joakim Sahlberg
Netlight Consulting

The creation of a well-functioning team is not something that magically happens overnight. Building a team takes time and effort. Even though a big part of the team-building process is doing the day-to-day work, some of the other things that are required in creating a functional team don't happen by themselves.

One of the goals for us ScrumMasters is to create an environment in which all team members are comfortable bringing up tough issues -- and, in my eyes, that includes those personal issues that have an impact on work performance.


Temperature reading is a method from the family therapy branch of psychology and was originally created by American family therapist Virginia Satir. This method isn't new when it comes to software development, but it might not be well or often used.

Temperature reading is preferably done outside the office, but if you have a cozy corner with couches, that will work too. Gather your team once a week for a 40-to-60-minute session and cover the five topics listed below:

  1. Appreciation

  • This is done in the following way: [Name], I appreciate you for [stuff]. This is to encourage positive behavior. If I know that my fellow team members appreciate something I do, I will continue to do it.

  1. Puzzles

  • The purpose here is to bring up any concerns you might have, regarding anything. The focus is not on coming up with a solution; it's the process of telling people about what puzzles you that is most important.

  1. New information

  • This topic is open for anyone to share any new information they have, both work-related and personal, that could be of interest to the other team members. As an example, I try to share what has happened in the other teams I'm in contact with, or I make the team aware of any interesting lectures or seminars that are coming up.

  1. Feedback/complaint with recommendation

  • This is the most difficult topic. Here you bring up anything concrete that you find disturbing or annoying about any individual team member, and bring a recommended behavioral change to the table. The last part is the most important: Don't just sit there and complain about people; provide a possible solution to the problem.

  1. Hopes, dreams, and goals

  • This is a good time to observe the team and the individuals to see what kind of dreams and hopes they have, both personal and work-related. Work-related topics can include those coming from an individual, from the team, or from the company-wide perspective.

This will all seem very awkward the first few times around, but stick with it and have faith. Be sure to point out that it is voluntary to share anything during the session, and let people finish what they have to say before commenting or allowing others to respond. As the facilitator, make sure you start off every topic to lead the way. Others will follow. You will be surprised how quickly people will become comfortable sharing deeply personal things.

Opinions represent those of the author and not of Scrum Alliance. The sharing of member-contributed content on this site does not imply endorsement of specific Scrum methods or practices beyond those taught by Scrum Alliance Certified Trainers and Coaches.

Article Rating

Current rating: 5 (1 ratings)


Terry Floyd, CSP,CSM, 10/17/2013 6:39:15 AM
Thanks for sharing!
PREETI ARUN KUMAR, CSM, 10/20/2013 11:18:03 PM
Great article....and it works too...I have been doing this with my team members for the past 3-4 years and now we are like family.....any concerns personal or professional we share discuss and try to find a good solution for it.....It adds strength to the team.

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