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How do I motivate a New to Scrum Team ?

Last post 02:16 pm February 11, 2020 by Ian Mitchell
12 replies
04:21 pm February 5, 2020

I am leading a scrum team and the dev team lacks motivation. is it the resposiblility of the scrum master to motivate the team if yes how or escalate the prob to highter management ?

01:17 am February 6, 2020

Hi Poulomi

Can you please share what you have tried so far, and how it went?

02:05 am February 6, 2020

How did you arrive that the team lacks motivation? can you give example

04:58 am February 6, 2020

Make the Daily Scrum and the Sprint Retrospective fun. Start out with a facilitation game. Bring chocolates to the event. Start off with a "did you know?" fact, a joke or share a funny story. I used to start training sessions with relevant, funny, short YouTube videos. Make your events seem less like a chore. The Scrum Master is in a position of influencing change and change takes time. 

10:50 am February 6, 2020

@Adwait Vaidya  I spoke to individual team members and tried to understand the real problem and seems like they are not happy with the management, one of the Scrum team member is rude and will never co-operate with the team and management is not ready to take any action against him.So he is still in the team.                                                         As a scrum master I have raised this to the higher management to support the team but no good result. What else can I do as Scrum master?

10:53 am February 6, 2020

@Sherwin Soriano lack of commitment, because they are frustrated with the management politics.

12:43 pm February 6, 2020

Do you have any positiv stakeholder which can provide proper and positiv feedback to the increment in the review? A lot of people are motivated to make people happy and getting good feedback ;)

12:46 pm February 6, 2020

I am leading a scrum team

Maybe you need to do a lot less leading, and more serving first?

The responsibility of the Scrum Master is to create an environment for the Scrum Team to flourish. Creating an environment for a Development Team to self-organize will help with motivation. Sometimes the Scrum Master has an illusion of control, and needs to give this back to the Development Team to help them flourish. A coaching course can help a Scrum Master improve.

A few other things will help. Has the Product Owner created a vision, and shared this with everyone? If not perhaps this is something a Scrum Master could facilitate with the Product Owner and Development Team. Is a Sprint Goal created for each Sprint? That will help as well.

Check out Dan Pink's Ted Talk on intrinsic motivation:



07:14 pm February 6, 2020

I wouldn't say it's the SM's job to motivate the team, but out of everyone on the team, it's often easiest for the SM to assist in achieving it.

Data and Goals. Assuming you had a defined purpose for the team, are they doing Scrum well ... if you look at the definition of Scrum, only 1/3 of the framework is designed for improving the product. The other 2/3's is to improve the team and the work environment. How good are they at that? If they aren't good at it, why not? Are the improvements outside of their control?

That is key! To quote John Wooden:

"Success is peace of mind, that is the direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming."

There is where the rub lies. What data to use for which goals? What are success goals and is the team able to separate them from performance goals? 

For this person that is rude, why are they uncooperative? How could this individual feel and/or be successful without relying on the team? I would talk to this person to understand or wonder if the team is slowing this person down or does this person feel their value or purpose is threatened by overall team performance?

This is just a few things I would consider. There is often a reason behind a behavior, and personality faults are often a cover or shell for a real reason.

12:39 am February 7, 2020

I am always reminded by my coach and my manager not to provide solution or fix to the team, I think the idea is for the team to come up with their own solution or fix or how to improve on and not to be dependent on the SM.

Ask the team on what are the things that are in control of the team to divert their attention to management politics. Do a team building activity or just like the comments above, make it fun and exciting by inserting mini games during retrospective.

As for the other side, ask you manager or stakeholder on how they can help on the team's problem (frustration on management politics). What they can do for the team or what changes they can do for the team.

03:54 am February 7, 2020

Hi Poulomi Biswas I agree with Chris Belknap when he said "You need to do a lot less leading". I think you could review the values and principles of the manifesto and Scrum.

Frequently we talk a lot about tools and processes (not so motivating) and the most important (the bottom of iceberg) we forget.


Probably your problem is in the fifth principle of manifesto:

"Build projects around motivated individuals.
Give them the environment and support they need,
and trust them to get the job done."

You told us that your organization cannot provide them the environment that they need, So, use that to connect them, they have the same problem, they are in the same environment and they know deeply the organization problems.

Use the retrospective to facilitate the feedback, give back the control to the team and they'll self-organize.


Another perspective:

Successful use of Scrum depends on people becoming more proficient in living (the Scrum values) - Scrum guide,

Openness -  The Scrum Team and its stakeholders agree to be open about all the work and the challenges with  performing the work.

In my option they didn't understand very well this value, I face day by day "challenges with performing the work" with mature agile teams, but they know its happen and we inspect and plan the improvement Sprint by Sprint.

Sorry for the long text.

11:14 pm February 10, 2020

Hi Poulomi 

Apologies for late response - you may not always have the perfect team who gel with each other and deliver everything on time. As for the difficult team member in this case - maybe, try and understand why that person is not co-operating? See if you can feel that person's pulse and then suggest some corrective action?

As SMs, we should be making efforts on a daily basis to bring in improvements, and trash out what's not helping - other than raising an alarm to the management when things are not working. Maybe change your perspective for a few days on how to tackle the situation and you may come up with some solution?



02:16 pm February 11, 2020

To what extent are the various issues you perceive measurable, or can otherwise be clearly evidenced in a timely manner? What transparency have you been able to put over these problems and their consequences?