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How do I get my team members to learn new things?

You have a team member who is not coming along very well. He or she is not motivated or does not feel like learning new things. You can deal with this in different ways. Martijn van Leeuwen is Scrum Master at TrailBlazers and likes to share his experiences with this topic. In this article, Martijn walks you through his approach. 

Personally, I like to develop myself and learn. Yet I have also experienced periods when I did not take the step to continue learning in my professional environment. What was my motivation to develop or to stand still?

In the past, I worked as a developer. Thinking back to that time, I had a number of reasons for wanting to develop. Basically, I enjoy learning new things. In addition, it is not fun to fall behind the developments within your environment. You want to keep up with the latest technology and it’s fun to talk about this with colleagues. It also allows you to inspire each other to keep moving forward. Not understanding a piece of code can be quite depressing. But when you suddenly do understand what it’s about, you can go from feeling like a failure to feeling fantastic.

Why did I stop learning? It’s exciting to start something new. No matter how much you already know, every time you start something new, it feels like you’re at the bottom of the ladder again. It doesn’t feel good to have to ask for help every time. Even if other people are great at helping you. Furthermore, you may also be buried with work that leaves you with no time to spare. Although this is more often a distraction than a real hindrance. Especially in an environment with Scrum, the room is there to learn new things. 

I have also had times when I have felt burdened to ask questions. Afraid that I am keeping others from their work. It helped me to have an open conversation about this. Sometimes a referral to a manual is enough. What I personally find most difficult is to be unconsciously incompetent. How do you discover what you don’t know? Looking closely at what you want to achieve and how others solve it has often helped me with this. But trying different ways can also help. After all, most things have already been thought of and worked out by someone else.

The lesson I learn from this is that I need a safe environment. An environment in which I can call for help. Where people can also just say they don’t have time without getting angry. A place where you are valued for your questions so that other people are challenged again. Where the seniors can also say they don’t know and want to look for a solution together. For me, safety is the first brick to be laid. 

What are your experiences with this topic? Martijn is curious! Let him know at!