5 min read

The Start-Stop-Continue Exercise: How To Conduct One (+Template)

The Start-Stop-Continue Exercise: How To Conduct One (+Template)

In our search for improvement, we often find ourselves reflecting on what works, what doesn't, and what needs to change. This process of evaluation is crucial for growth, both personally and professionally. Whether we're striving to excel in our careers, strengthen our relationships, or simply become better versions of ourselves, the journey begins with assessing where we stand and determining our next steps or things to stop doing to be more successful in business.

"Start-Stop-Continue" retrospective is a simple yet powerful feedback tool often used in Agile project management and team settings to improve processes and performance.

Start-stop-continue exercises provide individuals and teams with a clear way to look at what they're doing, decide what to start, stop, or keep doing, and make improvements, facilitating constructive stop, start, continue feedback and informed decision-making

When done correctly, this exercise prompts reflection, kickstarts meaningful conversations, and encourages collaboration among employees. In addition, since it’s tied to a specific challenge or opportunity your team is currently facing, it’s easier than some other exercises for everyone to see its intended purpose.

Whether the idea of a start-stop-continue technique is new to you or you’ve never conducted an exercise like this as a leader, this article will prove helpful. In this article, we will provide an overview of what a start-stop-continue framework is, offer some start-stop-continue examples, discuss when to conduct the exercise, along with an editable start-stop-continue template.

 

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What Is A Start-Stop-Continue Framework?

Start-stop-continue is a simple yet effective framework often used in business, personal development, and various other contexts for reflecting on actions and behaviors. It involves evaluating what activities or behaviors one should start doing, stop doing, and continue doing in order to improve performance, achieve goals, or bring about desired changes in an organizational setting.

The start-stop-continue retrospective can be used in various contexts, such as personal development, team meetings, project retrospectives, performance evaluations, and organizational assessments. It provides a structured approach for reflection and decision-making, helping individuals and teams to continuously improve and adapt to changing circumstances. Similar to the Gibbs Reflective Cycle, it promotes structured reflection and continuous improvement.

 

Who is Start-Stop-Continue Technique For?

In essence, start-stop-continue technique is for anyone committed to continuous improvement and growth, providing a framework to navigate challenges, capitalize on opportunities, and achieve their goals.

Start-stop-continue is a valuable tool for individuals, teams, and organizations seeking to enhance their performance, effectiveness, and overall success.

 

For Leaders and Managers

Start-stop-continue provides a structured approach to evaluate strategies, initiatives, and team dynamics for leaders and managers. Whether assessing project outcomes, reviewing individual performance, or refining organizational processes, this framework offers insights to inform future decision-making and drive improvement.

 

Teams and Workgroups

Similarly, teams and workgroups can benefit from start-stop-continue exercises to optimize collaboration, communication, and productivity. By reflecting on what practices to start, stop, or continue, teams can identify areas for enhancement, capitalize on strengths, and align their efforts towards shared objectives.

 

Educators and Trainers

Educators and trainers can use start-stop-continue exercises to enhance learning experiences and curriculum design. It enables them to gather feedback from students or participants, refine teaching methods, and continuously improve educational outcomes.

 

Start-Stop-Continue Strategy Examples

The Start-Stop-Continue framework provides a structured approach for leaders, teams, educators, and trainers to reflect on past experiences, identify areas for improvement, and make informed decisions to enhance performance and effectiveness in the workspace.

Here are some start stop continue feedback examples for managers and leaders with specific scenarios.

 

Example #1:

During employee performance reviews, leaders or managers can employ start-stop-continue to provide constructive feedback. They might suggest starting a mentorship program for skill development, stopping micromanagement practices to foster autonomy, and continuing to recognize and reward outstanding performance using reward power.

 

start stop continue feedback examples for managers

 

Example #2:

As another example, after completing a product launch, leaders might evaluate which marketing strategies to continue, what communication channels to start using, and which logistical procedures to stop that caused delays.

start stop continue feedback examples for managers

 

Example #3:

Similarly, after completing a sprint in Agile development, team members can identify practices to start (e.g., daily stand-up meetings for improving communication), stop (e.g., multitasking during work hours), and continue (e.g., weekly knowledge-sharing sessions).

start stop continue feedback examples for managers

 

Example #4:

As another example, after conducting a workshop on leadership skills, educators might start offering follow-up coaching sessions, stop using overly complex training materials, and continue encouraging peer-to-peer learning through group discussions.

start stop continue feedback examples for managers

 

Example #5:

After receiving feedback from their team, managers might start running regular one-on-one or catch-up meetings to discuss progress and goals, stop micromanaging tasks to build trust and improve morale, and continue recognizing and celebrating the team's achievements to boost motivation.

start stop continue feedback examples for managers

 

 

When To Use Start-Stop-Continue Exercises?

One of the great things about the stop-start-continue exercise is that it can be used in a variety of situations, including:

 

Start of a New Year

Whether it’s the start of the calendar year or your company’s fiscal year, a start-stop-continue is a great way to get your team thinking that they can improve and make the coming year better than the last. 

 

Mistakes

If you need to address a pattern of mistakes with your team but want to do so in a way that isn’t detrimental to their confidence, try using the stop-start-continue exercise. Ask them what they could start doing, stop doing, and continue doing that would prevent the mistake from happening again. This approach ensures everyone is focused on moving forward and taking action rather than dwelling on the error.

 

Change Initiative

When introducing and implementing a change initiative, it is a good idea to go through the stop-start-continue exercise, so your team knows what they will need to start, stop, and continue doing to implement the change successfully. In addition, this exercise helps with change adoption, as employees are personally involved in the change effort as they have input in adjusting their workloads to accommodate the needed changes. The start stop continue exercise can be effectively implemented during a change management process, including when using models like Satir's Change Management Model.

 

Poor Performance

When your team hasn’t been hitting their targets or goals, you can use the stop-start-continue to help the team identify why that is and what can be done about it.

 

Annual Planning

During the period when you conduct your annual planning, set budget and realistic goals, use the start-stop-continue exercise to help you make decisions as a team.

 

How To Conduct a Start-Stop-Continue Exercise?

A start-stop-continue is a simple team exercise to conduct. As the name suggests, there are three parts to it. During each part, you should ask a variety of open-ended questions that get your team thinking and collaborating with one another. Here is a list of questions to get you thinking: 

 

Start

  • What do we need to start doing?
  • Is there a tool, process, or resource that would help us achieve our goals?
  • What strengths do we have that we aren’t currently leveraging?

Stop

  • What do we need to stop doing?
  • Are we doing something that is holding us back?
  • What do we do that takes up a lot of resources but doesn’t produce significant results?
  • Is there a tool or process that isn’t working the way it was intended to?

Continue

  • What are we doing right that we need to continue doing?
  • What works well that shouldn’t change?

Questions to Ask During a Start-Stop-Continue  - Niagara Institute

 

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to run a start stop continue exercise:

  1. Prepare materials for visual presentation and brainstorming, such as a whiteboard or online tools like Miro if you run the exercise virtually.

  2. Explain the purpose of the exercise, encourage a collaborative environment, and ensure all team members are engaged.

  3. Give team members time to individually reflect and write down their ideas for each category (start, stop, continue). Collect their feedback.

  4. Share the collected notes with the group, categorize similar ideas, and facilitate a group discussion.

  5. Allow the group to vote on items in each category to prioritize actions. Create an action plan by assigning tasks and setting deadlines.

  6. Conduct catch-up meetings to review progress and adjust the action plan as needed.

By following these steps, you can effectively run a start, stop, continue exercise to create an improvement plan and promote.

 

Next Steps: Use The Start-Stop-Continue Template to Get Started

Now that you know what a start-stop-continue is, when it should be used in the workplace, and the types of questions to ask during the exercise, it’s time to put it all into action with the help of this start-stop-continue template. The template is meant to be a jumping-off point that evolves as you figure out what it takes to maximize your team’s participation in the start-stop-continue exercise.

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