6 Tips to Boost Team Motivation for Your Agile Team


Being an Agile team is all about adopting the Agile frameworks to the core – both in project management and team collaboration. It is all about efficiency and effectiveness, which means adopting methods to optimize resources, make the most out of teamwork and, especially, mitigating or avoiding loss of time and costs.

But whether you adopt Scrum, Kanban, XP or any Agile framework, in the end, it all depends on the teams involved, the leaders managing the project and the customers at the receiving end. In order to make any project successful, the foremost thing you need is a competitive, skilled human resource.

Effective team management and collaboration are key to team motivation and productivity. Without the positivity and motivation of your teams and professionals, no matter which practice is adopted or no matter how much investment is on the paper, projects will not meet their much-needed success rate.

In this blog, we attempt to highlight the top six practices that you can implement and practice today to sustain and boost team motivation. Let’s begin.

1. Acknowledgment and Recognition

Who doesn’t like a pat on their back after a day or month of hard work? According to Qualtrics, employees who claim their managers regularly acknowledge their work, are 5 times more likely to stay with the employer.

However, studies have shown that a majority of employees feel that their efforts are overlooked entirely or not given their due acknowledgment by the management.

According to a survey by Monster.com, more than half (58%) of British workers feel undervalued, 54 percent said this left them feeling unappreciated and 41% said due to this they felt de-motivated.

Phil Taylor, an Agile coach, who has worked with more than 10 teams through his career in multiple fields, considers recognition absolutely imperative for teams as well as individuals.

He explains he makes it a point to implement practices so that each of his Agile team members feels appreciated by the management and peers.

2. Team Building Activities

Gone are the days where an employee’s motivation was solely based on basic requirements and monetary benefits. Teams, after all, are made of human beings that require personal connection and empathy to feel more engaged in their workplace.

Hertzberg’s team motivation theory says human interaction, recognition and manager relations are some of the key factors that can greatly impact motivation for teams.  One of the best approaches to help meet these factors of satisfaction and boost team motivation is by introducing team building activities.

Research has proved time and again that team building activities have a great impact on team effectiveness, helping them develop trust and enjoy complete peace of mind at work.

3. Staying Positive During Setbacks

One of the important factors to keep teams motivated is to always be prepared and have plan B in case of a setback.

When things don’t go as planned in case of project failure, team disputes, or uncontrollable external negative influences, their morale can be affected. In such circumstances, it is important to address team motivation first and foremost.

Instead of indulging in a blame game, focus your teams on what they can do to salvage the most out of the situation.

Pratik Kothari is an IT Delivery Manager at John Deere. In his article, he elaborates how a Scrum Master can play a significant role by employing methods to facilitate teamwork, protect against setbacks and resolve conflicts during negative situations. Agile teams have a look!

4. Ensuring Balanced Workload

Working hard is a good thing but you need to keep a lookout on employees that are bound to burn out due to excessive workload. As human beings, we can do so much in our given time and with our limited energy to complete the work assigned.

It is important to keep a check on our productivity levels and those of our team by ensuring the implementation of practices to boost productivity. Jennise Chaffold has more than two decades of leadership experience in developing strategies to help organizations by keeping processes and people in sync.

Jennise highlighted the importance of making sure the work is balanced between the team members in order to avoid burnout and mismanagement. She recommends doing this through daily status meetings (or you can manage this quite well in your daily Scrum meetings).

These meetings help keep the team members updated and manage to transfer assignments shifting workloads as required. This also makes the work more enjoyable due to which employees look forward to work and can bond better as a team.

5. Being Open to Criticism and Differing Opinions

One of the best things about being an Agile team is that you are guaranteed a forum to hear everyone’s ideas. This can be your daily Scrum, weekly Scrum meetings and then the Sprint planning.

Being a project manager or a Product Owner, make the most of these events to hear your team out – not only for the obstacles and work completion but also new methods for improvement.

The team member that works on a story has better knowledge hands-on than anyone else in the team. It is important to hear out your team members on how they deem better to take forward a certain part of the project.

This will boost their confidence and reinstate trust in their abilities and foster self-confidence. Kim Antelo is an Agile Evangelist and her work experience includes multiple Fortune 100 companies, such as General Electric, Express Scripts, Inc, and Anthem.

In one of her recent blogs, Kim emphasizes the factor of letting teams recommend solutions rather than just the leadership making the decisions. Kim states that the ability to share their ideas and recommendations and being a part of the solution providers can help boost team empowerment.

This way leaders will also learn that instead of seeking approval constantly, their teams are able to make good decisions on their own, too.

See also:

How to encourage feedback learning at work?

6. Having Fun

Project Management may seem like a field for serious professionals all drowned in work with little or no time to play.

On the contrary, you can make project management fun so your team can look forward to work even on the most potentially stressful days. It is important to have this balance to avoid work burnout and sustain productive teams for a longer time period.

Bob (Robert) Galen is an Agile Methodologist, practitioner, and coach as well as the Director of Agile Solutions for Zenergy Technologies. In his blog about Agile teams burning out, Robert Galen stresses giving the teams opportunities to have fun and relax and, in turn, boost team motivation.

According to Robert, some team members may like to have fun together with peers while others would like to spend some time with their families and friends.  As an agile leader, Robert states to have often provided funds to the team to support whichever activity they choose as long as they have fun and get some decompression time.

Dr. Ian Mitchell, a Scrum Master and author of the book “Agile Development in Practice” suggests having fun by bringing refreshments, considering adding short activities or breaks for games to the reviews. If you are looking for more strategies, the team at SnackNation recommends a variety of recognition ideas to introduce in the office to motivate your employees.

What practices would you recommend for boosting team motivation in your Agile teams? Share your experiences and ideas in the comments below.



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