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BONUS: Beyond Profit, How Happy Office Is Redefining Success in the Workplace, with Maartje Jansen and Fennande van der Meulen

Maartje and Fennande’s journey into the realm of happiness at work began with a blend of personal insight and professional evolution.

A conversation with a neighbor about the  innovative step of hiring the Netherlands’ first Chief Happiness Officer, led them to the realization that prioritizing worker happiness is not just beneficial but essential for business success.

This revelation was the cornerstone for founding Happy Office, the consultancy they work for.

Both had always valued engagement and purpose in their work, but now they were seeing the business world through a new lens: one that focuses on harnessing the full potential of employees, beyond just profit generation.

Their early skepticism from academic circles about influencing work culture was overturned by practical experiences.

The Four Pillars of Workplace Happiness

They define happiness at work simply by saying: “it’s when you find yourself whistling on the way to and from work!”

They use four ideas to help describe how to achieve that outcome, the four Ps of Purpose, People, Progress, and Positivity.

These pillars serve as the foundation for creating a work environment where employees feel energized rather than drained.

At the core of their definition lies the basic human needs for meaningful relationships and contributions, suggesting that true happiness at work is about finding the right balance that fulfills these needs.

The Critical Role of Happiness in Today’s Workplace

Continue reading BONUS: Beyond Profit, How Happy Office Is Redefining Success in the Workplace, with Maartje Jansen and Fennande van der Meulen

Nimi Bello: From Conflict to Growth, Lessons in Coaching as a Scrum Master, Even When Stakes are High!

In the episode, Nimi talks about a challenging experience where a high-stakes project faced self-destruction due to a lack of psychological safety. The dominant engineering manager stifled team communication, leading to disengagement and reduced collaboration. Struggling as a Scrum Master, Nimi took the initiative to have a difficult conversation with the manager, emphasizing the team’s perspective. By fostering understanding and shifting to solution-oriented thinking, the episode highlights the importance of addressing psychological safety issues for team well-being. Nimi shares how this experience propelled her growth as a coach and the significance of proactive communication.

Featured Book of the Week: Drive by Dan Pink

In the segment, Nimi discusses the impact that the books “Drive” by Dan Pink and “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki had on her role as a Scrum Master. Emphasizing motivation and empowerment, Nimi delves into how “Drive” highlights the often-overlooked importance of the key concept of intrinsic motivation, emphasizing its significance for Scrum Masters. Nimi encourages listeners to delve into these influential reads for valuable insights into fostering team motivation and developing crucial interpersonal skills.

Transform Your Agile Teams with Hard-Earned Lessons from Super-Experienced Scrum Masters

Do you wish you had decades of experience? Learn from the Best Scrum Masters In The World, Today! The Tips from the Trenches – Scrum Master edition audiobook includes hours of audio interviews with SM’s that have decades of experience: from Mike Cohn to Linda Rising, Christopher Avery, and many more. Super-experienced Scrum Masters share their hard-earned lessons with you. Learn those today, make your teams awesome!

About Nimi Bello

Nimi Bello is a seasoned Agile professional with a diverse skill set. She currently serves as a Release Train Engineer at Deloitte. With over 8 years of experience, Nimi is an award-winning Creative Director, Principal Agile Consultant, and Strategic Partner. Her expertise lies in sales, technology, and guiding teams through the complex journey of transitioning to Agile methodology. Nimi is a global change agent with a fervor for building and scaling businesses and communities.

You can link with Nimi Bello on LinkedIn.

The untold, science based, truth about motivating and engaging Scrum teams

This is a guest blog post by Christian Heidemeyer, the developer of Echometer, a tool for Scrum Masters to run retrospectives, and collect data that helps reflect and develop  team’s performance

Why employee mindset is overrated

After interviewing hundreds of Scrum Masters, one of the most common challenges we at Echometer get is: “People don’t have the right, agile mindset.” 

As a psychologist, I think these Scrum Masters do not understand one of the key ideas of agile methods and Scrum. These people are overrating the importance of employee mindset over other – critical – aspects, which leads them down the wrong path. I will try to explain it with a simple story.

The story of Felix

Imagine Felix, an amazing software engineer who mostly works on his own. He created some creative free products thousands of people use. People celebrate him on Twitter.

But Felix wants a change. More and more of his IT friends, especially Sarah, talked about the magic of working in a great team. Where people inspire each other, or as they say: where ideas have sex.

Felix applies to a few jobs and ends up with two offers that seem to fit his needs. The two potential teams he could join are totally different.

The Performers

Team one, let us call them, “Performers”, seem to be a team of overperformers. Every single one of the team members is a legend in their area of expertise. Felix was able to talk to two of the team members. They seemed to be highly motivated and skilled. They are young and bold. But at the same time, Felix feels like something is wrong in that team after talking to the team members. They did not seem to be totally honest with him.

And then there is the way they organize: There is no clear structure. Everybody is supposed to have maximum freedom – because after all, they are all skilled professionals who know what to do. 

On the one hand, Felix likes this high-profile companionship. On the other hand, he is not sure how the team benefits from each other’s knowledge with so little communication and structure.

The Teamy-Team

In team two, we will call “Teamy”, Felix did not know a single one of the developers. None of them seemed to be specifically good at their job. Some of the developers in the team seemed to be relatively old and clumsy on first impression.

But at the same time, they are the team everybody talked about on Social Media. The challenge they worked on was the challenge everybody worked on – but they seemed to be the team with the solution: A simple, smart, and creative game-changer.

When he talked to one of the older team members, Robin, he saw the glowing enthusiasm in his eyes. That is nothing he saw in the “Performers” Team. So which team should Felix go for?

The system and the mindset

Let me tell you something about the two teams Felix does not know: Team 1 is not performing. Individually they are good and they are motivated, but they don’t work as a team. 

Colleagues of the “Performers” team know of their bad performance. And they also think they know the reason: “They just don’t have the right mindset”. 

Now imagine Felix would join the Performers team. I am pretty sure, Felix – a motivated and bright software engineer – would not have performed well over the long run. His colleagues would also say “he also does not have the right mindset, just like the others”. They would think there is something wrong with Felix as a person.

We are at the core of the problem here. These colleagues blame it on the mindset. But as you may have guessed, it is not the mindset.

Jeff Sutherland says it, too

The majority of people have what people think of as the “right” mindset. They are motivated and want to perform. But it is the situation, surroundings, or system they are in – the culture and structure of their team, company, or maybe private family – that affects their performance. 

This is the case for the “Performers” team. Individually they have good ideas and skills. But they are lacking the right structure and communication system. Therefore, these ideas go in different directions, tasks are not aligned, making progress really hard. 

Jeff Sutherland, co-creator of Scrum, puts it this way here: “We are all creatures of the system we find ourselves embedded in. Instead of seeking someone to blame, try to examine the system that produced the failure and fix the system.”

We tend to overrate the importance of personal character when explaining the behavior of others. Interestingly, we do not do so when explaining our own behavior, or did you ever hear someone say “I don’t have the right mindset”? No, that person could give a good – situational – reason why they are not performing.

In psychology, this is called “fundamental attribution error”. It is a natural, widely spread bias in western cultures that you can obverse everywhere in daily life.

Working on the root cause

Given the fundamental attribution error, people often think they can solve their problems if they could “fix” one or two persons in their team. Instead, they should work on their team and their surrounding as a whole.

Therefore, like many others, I believe the retrospective is the most important event in Scrum. There you can make your team aware of the root causes of the problems they face, which often lie in the situation, not the persons. This is the reason why I, as a psychologist and agile evangelist, decided to develop a tool for agile retrospectives in teams, Echometer – and not, e.g., a digital coach for the individual. 

If you really want to work on the psychological input triggers of team performance, I recommend having a look at the “team flow” model of dutch scientist Dr. Jef van den Hout. He developed a model that is a roadmap to bring the individual feeling of flow to a whole team.

You can find more about the model and get additional 12 practical workshops to bring it into your team – for example in your agile retro – in my free eBook. You can download it here.

Ah, by the way. Felix chose the right team, “Teamy”. He is really happy with his choice. Learning more than ever – and adding more value than ever!

About Christian Heidemeyer

Christian is a psychologist by training and a retrospective tool developer for Scrum Masters and Scrum Teams. His tool Echometer takes advantage of the latest science-based findings of team motivation and performance to help Scrum Masters run impactful retrospectives.

You can link with Christian Heidemeyer on LinkedIn.

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This simple checklist and calendar handout, with a coaching article will help you define the minimum enagement your PO must have with the team
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This simple checklist and calendar handout, with a coaching article will help you define the minimum enagement your PO must have with the team
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Download a detailed How-To to help measure success for your team
Motivate your team with the right metrics, and the right way to visualize and track them. Marcus presents a detailed How-To document based on his experience at The Bungsu Hospital
Download a detailed How-To to help measure success for your team
Read about Visualization and TRANSFORM The way your team works
A moving story of how work at the Bungsu Hospital was transformed by a simple tool that you can use to help your team.
Read about Visualization and TRANSFORM The way your team works
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