My boss thinks we are not producing enough work quick enough, the reality is that all of my reporting indicates that we are. My cumulative flow diagram has shown a massive amount of backlog work done. My team are also generally meeting their sprint goals from burndown charts.

The challenges that I am having:

  • After showing the burn down charts, he wants us to increase our velocity so that we finish our sprints sooner so that we can cram more work in. So I guess that equates to working longer hours i.e. overtime?

If we finish our sprints early, we then switch to kanban or begin another sprint.

  • After keeping track of progress, the average amount of points my team can handle in a working week is about 7.7 points. PO's attitude is if they can complete 7.7 points, why not increase it to 9 or 10 points?

I have responded that it will lead to the team becoming over worked and probably work a lot of overtime. He seemingly doesn't care since it is in his interest to get as much work done as soon as possible.

What can I do if:

PO/Boss does not seemingly care about how many hours in a week the team works even if it leads to overpaid overtime.

My boss's mentality seems to be that 40 hours a week is the minimum amount of time the team should spend working, when it is their contracted hours


Edit since question was posted:

  • Overtime is unpaid
  • Group actively takes on more work after sprint has ended.
  • Is this a question about overtime and contracts, or is it a question about management sticking to the purity of a team methodology? Either way, I think these questions have answers in this forum already, if you search a bit.
    – Kent A.
    May 23, 2016 at 12:15
  • Paid, or unpaid, overtime? Realistically, how important is it to the business to speed things up? Are you sometimes missing the sprint goals (I'd not you may be being conservative in setting goals"). Is the group stopping w when r they hit the goals, or grabbing more work when time permits?
    – keshlam
    May 23, 2016 at 12:36
  • 3
    Has the boss actually asked for overtime? Or did he/she simply ask for more efficiency? Your question seems to say you assume overtime is the only way to get more productivity. What else have you done to try to become more efficient? Can you automate any part of your work?
    – Kent A.
    May 23, 2016 at 12:41
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    @keshlam the overtime is unpaid, and not the group does not stop when they hit their sprint goals, they actively take on more work. Everytime they complete a huge batch of work, my boss expectations increases and keeps on wanting more and more.
    – bobo2000
    May 23, 2016 at 13:19
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    @KentAnderson not he has not explicitly asked, but he indirectly has asked for it when he gives a shopping list worth of work knowing full well it won't get done during the contracted hours. I have also told him 2-3 times that working overtime is not a good idea directly, at which point he shrugs his shoulders.
    – bobo2000
    May 23, 2016 at 15:46

4 Answers 4


So your boss says: If you can do 7.7 points in a week, why can't you do 9 or 10 points?

I'd say: If your boss pays you $X per week, why can't he pay 1.3X or 1.5 X a week?


If you are doing Scrum (which I assume you do) you are making some basic mistakes your ScrumMaster should correct.

PO's attitude is if they can complete 7.7 points, why not increase it to 9 or 10 points?

Your PO can have any attitude he wants to. That's his personal privilege. However, he cannot allocate tasks for a sprint. He can only prioritize. The team picks it's tasks for the sprint.

Even if he pressures the team to take on more that it can possibly manage in a sprint, there is no way he can order overtime. If you take on more you can manage, you will fail the sprint goal. And that can happen. If it cannot happen in your company, you are not doing Scrum, you still have command and control with your tyrant boss calling himself PO. Job titles doesn't make it Scrum.

So in short: There is no way a PO can force unpaid overtime if you are doing Scrum. Go to your ScrumMaster and have him explain how a PO is working to your current PO. If this is not possible and you actually only do Scrum as a token process around the fact that your boss is the absolute monarch then I guess nobody here will be able to help you. The obvious things apply: join a union, demand to get paid for your work or get out and find a healthier job.

  • Seems to be a constant battle with my boss and I (I am the scrum master) to make sure things are done somewhat ethically.
    – bobo2000
    May 24, 2016 at 10:55
  • I think the challenge is, how do I be firm with the guy without pissing him off in the process by saying no they are not going to work over 40 hours.
    – bobo2000
    May 24, 2016 at 10:58
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    You are the SCRUM master, you will piss off people. If anybody in the team is the line manager of anyone else (like the PO being your boss) then you are doing it wrong. That's just fancy new words for the old hierarchy.
    – nvoigt
    May 24, 2016 at 14:24
  • @ nvoigt I understand. Sometimes I am wondering if it is actually possible to implement scrum purely. If I told my boss that he is not my manager, I will probably get put up for a disciplinary.
    – bobo2000
    May 24, 2016 at 14:43

Chances are, you cannot prevent you boss from forcing overtime on your team (it depends on what's written in their contracts). So what you need to do here is explain the consequences and see if they are willing to accept them.

Example: (assuming your team is already working at high productivity, which it sounds like they are)

The team are currently working 40-hours a week to produce X amount of work. This is on a par with / greater than comparable teams, so there is not much room to increase productivity further. In order to produce 25% more work in the same amount of time, we will need to work overtime or hire more developers. More developers takes time and money. Overtime means either overtime pay, or reducing hours at some point in the future to make up for this. Which would you prefer?

Depending on your company/contracts, your team might not get paid overtime. In which case you can instead (or additionally) include:

but they will get very unhappy, less productive overall and/or quit their jobs if you make them work too many hours

In essence, your boss's requirements have consequences (costs). You cannot force them to change their mind, only provide them with a full picture of the trade-offs involved.

If they decide to go ahead anyway, then that is their prerogative, but you will have done everything you could and should do.

Addendum: Document Everything
If it's not in writing (or in an e-mail), it didn't happen. If your boss goes ahead anyway, and the things you predicted come to pass, then you're going to want some kind of record that you warned them about this, and they decided to do it anyway.

  • Mind you in alot of contracts the boss can simply say "Then work overtime. But nobody is getting a dime more in compensation"
    – Magisch
    May 23, 2016 at 12:48
  • @Magisch Correct me if I'm mistaken (I'm not very familiar with US Laws) but isn't it illegal to have people working more than their contracted hours (over some time period) without overtime pay?
    – Kaz
    May 23, 2016 at 12:49
  • IIRC when they're exempt (like most developers, salaried over ~24k$ a year then the employer can have them work any amount of hours in a given month, but IANAL. Forced unpaid overtime is definitely legal in most of the US afaik.
    – Magisch
    May 23, 2016 at 12:55
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    Exempt Salaried employees don't have hours, simply work. They can have minimum hours and expected output, but they have no maximum hours. So the salary pays for all required hours anyways, wether they're over the required minimum or not.
    – Magisch
    May 23, 2016 at 13:03
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    In that case, you can update the description to "but they will get very unhappy, less productive overall and/or quit their jobs if you make them work too many hours".
    – Erik
    May 23, 2016 at 15:12

You can't prevent your boss. You can explain why it's a bad idea or why you don't want to do it, but you don't have the last say in the matter.

Perhaps it would be better to adjust your own perceptions to be more like those of your boss, it's one way to get ahead. And overtime means more money which is usually welcome, if not by you, then perhaps by other members of the team.

I know I would have been unhappy if my leader consistently argued against me making a bit of extra $$.

  • 2
    Several studies have shown that work performed by programmers over 40 hours a week is actually negative productivity, e.G they are not only not getting more done, but less, in 45 hours vs say 40.
    – Magisch
    May 23, 2016 at 12:34
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    Yeah I know. It's probably even true in general, wouldn't stop me being happy about making some overtime money though.
    – Kilisi
    May 23, 2016 at 12:41
  • @Kilisi the overtime is unpaid, just edited my post - sorry to be unclear about that.
    – bobo2000
    May 23, 2016 at 13:21
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    @Magisch - that is a generalization taken from research, but it is fair to say that there are cases where people have been able to be productive for more than 40 hrs. It's not recommended in general nor in the long-run, but I refuse it is physically impossible for more work to get done after the 40th magic hour. It's like saying everyone must have 8hrs of sleep a day.
    – user8365
    May 23, 2016 at 15:15
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    @Erik that would depend entirely on the person, one of my guys works full time elsewhere and only does my jobs after work, he's more productive than both my full time developers and less buggy.
    – Kilisi
    May 23, 2016 at 20:49

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