Are you an effective Scrum Master?
10 ways to find out
A Scrum Master (SM) is a process coach and a great facilitator for a team using Scrum. A SM plays a key role in helping the team to stay focused on the project’s goal and removing impediments throughout the project.
The Scrum Master has the role and support of the team to be self-organized, remove obstacles that the team may be facing and ensure that the Scrum framework is being followed.
10 ways to be an effective Scrum Master
1 – Understand Scrum principles
The first step to being an effective Scrum Master is to understand Scrum principles in detail. As part of this, the Scrum Master understands scrum values, framework and has ability to influence team to follow Scrum and its benefits. Scrum Master coaches the team in scrum practices through:
- Building organic, self-organizing teams and integrating them into overall organization
- Helping team create shared team vision and understand sprint goals
- Implement simple, transparent, and adaptable ground rules to deliver reliable business value with sustainable pace.
- Help team understand organization design challenges and open communication flow with internal and external stakeholders
- Help team achieve continuous improvement mind set
- Encourage team to improve engineering practices
2 – Know different tools and techniques
It is important that Scrum Master learn how to use different tools and techniques, such as tracking and value metrics, and should be aware of the development process and other agile methodologies. Tracking and monitoring the sprint progress for timely and relevant feedback while instituting systemic learning and adaptation. Introduces selected engineering practices and tools to help ensure each sprint delivers potentially shippable, including any or all from the following list:
- Automated Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery – ACICD – increase feedback loop, reduce time, and effort associated with manual builds.
- Simple Design and ongoing refactoring will help build better software and reduces technical debt.
- Automated testing and Test-Driven Development will help reduce testing time and effort, and improve quality
- Pair programming can increase software quality, share knowledge without impacting deliver time
3 – Mastering soft-skills, such as leadership and determination
Adopting Scrum, especially when the team has never been exposed to Scrum, can be challenging, and changes can sometimes encounter resistance.
An effective Scrum Master will have to work with a lot of persistence to overcome resistance and help create an atmosphere in which team members will provide the necessary organic support to Scrum.
Scrum Master assists the team by addressing any issues or removing any obstacles that may appear in the team’s path.
Possible problems range from personality conflicts to product owner. Scrum Master facilitates the team, allowing it to organize itself and determining the best way to deliver the highest value without compromising the Scrum principles.
4 – Facilitate the communication with Product Owner
An effective Scrum Master will strive to establish a friendly relationship between Product Owner and Team members. A Product Owner can sometimes be controlling and demanding. It is the responsibility of the Scrum Master to be the peacemaker, protector and to help the team maintain its morale and communicate effectively with the Product Owner to resolve any issues.
5 – An effective Scrum Master acts as a servant leader
While managing the Team, a Scrum Master does not direct the team, but leads by example and is a server, when it removes the impediments and allows the team to decide the best way to grow and perform.
Being a server leader also means that the Scrum Master helps the team to focus on the vision of the project whenever necessary to ensure the team is moving in the right direction.
As a leader, it is also Scrum Master’s responsibility to encourage the team by offering “rewards” to keep the team motivated and continuously improving.
6 – Manage expectations and conflicts
Dealing with unrealistic expectations from top management becomes a challenge for the Scrum Master who also has to meet Scrum Team expectations. Sometimes this leaves you with little time to devote to coaching and guiding the Scrum team about the principles, values, processes, and aspects of Scrum.
As a facilitator, the Scrum Master has an additional Team conflict management responsibility. Conflict management is not easy, especially when these conflicts exist between members of the same Scrum Team.
7 – Ability to empower people and be a great facilitator
One of the most important goal for Scrum Master is to help the team find the best way to finish a successful Sprint, it means that the Scrum Master must be present and be prepared to empower the team.
If you are an SM that lets the team make their decisions but does not make it easier for them to spin through the Sprint, the chances of things not going as planned are immense. So, you should be present to help the team and not just a meeting facilitator.
After all, empowering will generate self-organization, but it is necessary to be present in the day to day, facilitating the decisions of the team. The sum of empowerment and facilitation will ensure an effective sprint.
One of the key features of Scrum Master is undoubtedly empowering and facilitating.
8 – Scum Master should be always focused on delivery of sprint
This is one of the features of Scrum Master that will always make all the difference.
An efficient Scrum Master should be watching everything going on around the team and inside it as well. And at any sign of deviation from focus or distractions, it should act.
We have to understand that distractions or interruptions do not come only from “outside” the team, they may exist within the team, for example: When the team begins to develop something that is not related to the sprint goal in place of something that is more priority.
Being attentive, focused and eliminating the “technical distractions” of the team is undoubtedly one of the main features of Scrum Master.
9 – Scrum Master should act to prevent problems
Removing impediments is not just a role of the Scrum Master, it’s something that everyone should be aware of. This is to prevent impediments from stopping the flow. But the question here is: how to prevent impediments from happening? Is it possible?
Believe. It’s possible. You may be wondering, “but how?” The answer is: doing excellent Impediments Management.
10 – Ask and accept feedback – Be a good listener
We are driven by continuous improvement, so a good Scrum Master must know how to listen to something that is not going well and make it a learning process for improvement.
Now asking for feedback is no longer so simple, simply because people are bothered to give feedback. But you can ask for suggestions, such as: “How do you think we can make our retrospective?”
Asking for suggestions is an easy and straightforward way to receive feedback but be prepared to take the maximum amount of suggestions, even if they are bad or not as good as you hoped.