Team Morale

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Published August 21, 2022

Team Morale

‘(Team) Morale is the enthusiasm and persistence with which a member of a team engages in the prescribed activities of that group’ (Manning, 1991).

Teams with High Morale usually have the following traits:

  • Members are willing to help each other out, no matter the nature of the task;
  • Members are proud of their team (and usually tell the outside world) and the work they do;
  • Members will go the extra mile individually or for the team, even if it means staying late to finish the sprint;
  • Members will persist (not give up), even in the face of high work-pressure, difficult technical problems, nasty bugs or a difficult sprint;
  • Members are generally happy in the team and enjoy working there, on a whole;


Teams with Low Morale usually have the following traits:

  • Members withdraw from team activities or don’t participate at all;
  • Members are not proud of what their team does or are even ashamed;
  • Members will stick to a 9–5 (or less) mentality, even though a bit of overwork might turn the tide;
  • Members become focussed on doing only their part, and nothing more (‘this is not what I was hired for’);
  • Members will easily give up in the face of trouble;
  • Members are generally unhappy in the team and don’t enjoy working there, on a whole;


So, how do we measure team morale in a team?

As part of a running PhD research project, I have worked with a colleague (Maj. Frank van Boxmeer) on a set of items that reliably measure Team Morale in a valid, scientifically and statistically sound manner (Van Boxmeer, Verwijs, De Bruin, Duel & Euwema, 2007). I adapted the questions slightly for use in a Scrum Team:

  1. I am enthusiastic about the work that I do for my team
  2. I find the work that I do for my team of meaning and purpose
  3. I am proud of the work that I do for my team
  4. To me, the work that I do for my team is challenging
  5. In my team, I feel bursting with energy
  6. In my team, I feel fit and strong
  7. In my team, I quickly recover from setbacks
  8. In my team, I can keep going for a long time

You can clearly see that these items are specific. They still measure fairly intangible concepts, like ‘proud’, ‘bursting with energy’, ‘enthusiastic’, but they are more specific than simply happiness. Individual questions are rated on a 1 to 7 or a 1 to 5 scale (I prefer 1 to 7 as it allows more nuance). To calculate the morale of an individual member, we average the score on the eight questions. Team Morale is the average of the individual averages. For those interested, the alpha coefficient (an indicator of reliability) for this scale is very high (0.90, N=2471).

This set of questions is useful in a scientific context. A more practical, shorter version of the measure is shown below:

  1. In my team, I feel fit and strong;
  2. I am proud of the work that I do for my team;
  3. I am enthusiastic about the work that I do for my team;
  4. I find the work that I do for my team of meaning and purpose;

You could probably narrow down the set of questions even further. For pragmatic purposes, you could also ask a team what their morale is instead of their happiness, though that will cause some of the problems mentioned above. The four questions above have been selected based on their factor loading on the shared construct of Team Morale and their weight on the scale’s alpha coefficient.

When is this measure useful?

  1. When you want a more objective measure of a team’s well-being (perhaps for management reporting or a team monitor);
  2. When you want to have a more fine-grained measure, that is more focussed on the task and the team processes;
  3. When the team says it’s going ok, but you feel that it’s not, and the team needs a wake-up call;
  4. When you want to do further analyses on the results, perhaps even with historical measures;
  5. When your HR-department wants to measure well-being regularly (which happens a lot in The Netherlands) and use it for research;

A simple practical application

Although I did not intend this blog as a how-to, but more of a discussion-piece, I will present a simple practical application for those interested:

  1. Do the measure before the retrospective, preferably halfway during the sprint and not at the end
  2. Ask members to answer the questions on a scale from 1 to 7 on a piece of paper or digitally, individually. Depending on the team’s preference, you can do this anonymously or not;
  3. Collect the responses;
  4. To calculate individual morale: average the scores per individual (per individual, sum the scores and divide by the number of questions);
  5. To calculate team morale: average the individual average’s (sum the individual averages and divide by number of members that entered the questions);
  6. On a whiteboard, write down the results or put them in a chart (see below);
  7. Discuss the results with the Scrum Team and identify causes of low and high scores. Specifically address how Team Morale can be improved. You can use the questions to pinpoint where the pain is. Try to identify 1 or 2 interventions to improve team morale, but don’t overdo it. A Scrum Team can’t work on 10 changes at the same time;
  8. For historical comparison, you can keep track of team- and individual morale to plot out changes over time to see if interventions;