In Manage It! Your Guide to Modern, Pragmatic Project Management
, I explained a schedule game called "We'll go faster now." That's the game where the project team thinks they can improve their speed, even though there is no data that says they can.
There's a similar management game, called "Double Your Velocity." Say a team is new to agile. They estimate they can complete 72 points in a two-week iteration. In the first iteration, they complete 30. Ok, they figure out what's wrong during the retrospective, and they complete 55 points in the second iteration. They learn more about their estimation, so they estimate the stories better, and they refine what done means, so they plan for 63 points in the third iteration. They make it! They keep proceeding, and eventually, they settle in at around 67-68 points per iteration.
Now, a senior manager wants to "help" the team. I see this often masquerading as "motivation." A senior manager comes to the team, gives them a pep talk, and says, "I want to see you double your points for the next iteration." Depending on the team, they may ignore the manager, flip the manager the bird, or placate the manager by doubling their points for each estimate.
This is a management velocity game. It's a game, because management can't motivate people to do more work. Teams can see what's slowing them down, remove those obstacles and maybe they can finish more work. But this business of "motivation"? What a bunch of nonsense. (Tell us how you really feel, Johanna :-))
The real problem is when the manager thinks that the placating team has increased velocity based on his or her actions or pep talk. That's when the team might think they can go faster now, or they keep playing with their estimation points.
Velocity is personal to a team. Period. Mucking with the points does not make the work get done faster.