Try this to improve team performance

Whac-A-Mole Arcade GameDo you know a team that is struggling? Maybe your team? So often, leaders focus on trying to help the team improve performance without actually addressing the root problem. Some organizations will happily spend money sending software developers to conferences hoping they will come back with new skills to increase their productivity. Other companies will invest in training everyone in a new process. There are even companies that will bring in outside efficiency experts to help! I am not saying these solutions are wrong, but whether they are right depends on if they address the real problem. In my experience, not identifying the root cause will lead to a lot of Whac-A-Mole rather than solving the problem.

So what is the real problem? I don’t know. That answer probably surprises you but let me elaborate. I don’t know what the real problem is, but I know something likely to be part of it. In my experience, teams that are struggling with performance also have low morale.

There is a direct correlation between morale and productivity.

A team produces better when they have higher morale. And conversely, a team with low morale will have low productivity.

Believe it or not, it is that straightforward. More importantly, it makes sense logically. If a team is performing poorly, then team morale will likely suffer a hit. This sequence can turn into a negative spiral very quickly. Lower morale could lead to even lower performance leading to even lower morale, and the loop continues. It is necessary to address the morale problem head-on to address this downward cycle. I addressed this exact problem in a recent Agile Daily Dose video:

Some key ideas from the video for improving morale:

  • treat people the way you want to be treated
  • treat people the way they want and expect to be treated
  • celebrate wins AND losses
  • be courteous and kind
  • treat people like people, not interchangeable resources

I’ll add a few to the list:

  • show respect
  • empower people to make decisions
  • trust that people are doing their best

If you have more ideas, please leave them in the comments.

Give some of these things a try and see if morale goes up. If morale goes up, performance will go up as well!

The impact of morale on performance is just one of the many topics I cover in my Certified ScrumMaster courses. Go to and sign up. I’ll even give you some incentive: Use discount code BLOGENTRY for $50 off whatever price is available!

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