How do you continuously improve team performance?

Nurturing Team Growth: The Gardener’s Perspective

One question often gets asked in any Agile journey is – “How do you continuously improve team performance?”

To be frank, as with many of my answers to a lot of questions – “you don’t.” ❌

It might sound counterintuitive, but bear with me as we delve deeper into this unusual perspective. 🚀

The Myth of Constant Improvement

Here’s the reality – if anyone asserts that they can continuously refine team performance, they are misled.

Remember, a team is a gathering of individuals coming together with their unique skills to attain a common goal.

I often jest by saying something along the lines of, “What would you do? Do you plug a new chip in and install Team Dynamics 4.1?

I say this to underline the point that improvement isn’t about ‘upgrading’ individuals as if they are machines.

Crafting Spaces Where Teams Wish to Evolve

As Scrum Masters, our primary role isn’t to ‘improve’ individuals but to establish an environment where people can and genuinely want to improve. 🌟

This responsibility involves fostering a place where they are excited to learn, grow, and even learn from mistakes, making it a nurturing ground for organic growth.

Journey of Self-Improvement

I often say that I’m not just sharing the wealth of my experience but primarily these insights gleaned from my own mistakes. 🔄

However, it’s upon the individuals and the team to absorb, consider, and utilise these insights, integrating them into their practice to foster a self-propelled growth cycle.

A Gardener’s Perspective

Think of our role as similar to that of gardeners. We don’t hasten a plant’s growth by yelling at it, do we?

Our task is akin to nurturing the right conditions, ensuring enough sunlight and a conducive environment for growth. 🌳

Drawing on this analogy, our objective is to continually refine our teams’ environment, akin to a gardener tending to their plants meticulously.

Proactively Addressing Impediments

An integral part of this duty is identifying and eliminating impediments hindering the team’s progress.

This proactive stance extends beyond addressing known issues; it’s about discerning underlying challenges and fostering a collaborative spirit to innovate solutions. 💡

A Holistic View

We must, at times, take a step back to assess whether we’re fostering the right teams in the appropriate places.

It’s essential to continually assess whether this organisation fosters an environment where teams can flourish.

Our aim should always be to nurture an environment where, if they wish, teams can thrive and reach their full potential. 🌍

Embark on an Agile Adventure with Me

I invite you to explore team performance concepts more fully in my Agile and Scrum courses, where we collaborate together to comprehend and incarnate these principles in our daily Agile practices. 🚀

If you are interested in becoming an agile coach and value mentored, coach-driven skills development in your journey to mastery, visit our Growing Agile Coaches page.

If you are inspired by the idea of an online apprenticeship for a scrum master, visit

If you like the idea of becoming a scrum master and want to achieve internationally recognised and certified accreditation as a scrum master, visit our Certified Scrum Master (CSM) course page.

If you are already a scrum master and want to upskill to a more advanced level of knowledge and agile coaching capability, visit our Advanced Certified Scrum Master (A-CSM) course page.

If you have several years’ experience as a scrum master and want to validate and certify your professional skills, visit our Certified Scrum Professional Scrum Master (CSP-SM) course page.

For more information on John McFadyen, visit or connect with John on LinkedIn at

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John McFadyen Managing Partner
John McFadyen is an Executive and Enterprise Agile Coach with proven experience working on some of the UK and Europe’s largest, most complex Agile Transformations. As a Certified Scrum Trainer, John brings a wealth of experience as an Agile coach, Agile practitioner and software developer into each of the four core courses he provides. The war stories, the insights into successful Agile transformations and everything he has learned from coaching high-performance Agile teams combine to provide course delegates with a unique, compelling training experience that transforms as much as it empowers.

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