Scrum Masters are People Too – Give ‘Em a Break, and a Hand

Scrum masters are people too

There are great Scrum Masters and lousy Scrum Masters.

There are also great and lousy managers, developers, testers, salespeople, and neighbors. People are people – no matter what their profession or role in life. Scrum Masters are people too. And just like every profession, most people grow and improve with time and experience.  Some grow more quickly than others.

Do you have obstacles (impediments) that continue to plague your team because the Scrum Master has not removed them? Or, is communication inside the team or external to the team poor and hampering your ability to get things done?  Perhaps you feel like your team is stuck in a rut and your Scrum Master doesn’t seem to be doing anything about it. What do you do if your Scrum Master isn’t all you hoped it would be?

First, realize your Scrum Master is growing – hopefully.  Remember that you too were a novice developer or tester at some point. Early on, you probably wrote lousy code and missed critical tests.  Understand that your Scrum Master will eventually get better at coaching for Scrum adoption and growth, self-organization, and impediment removal. But it takes time, just as it took time for you to become the developer or tester that you are today.

Next, give them a helping hand. How do you do that? Here are six ideas:

1. Speak up when something doesn’t look right

Sweeping issues under the rug never help. Transparency is a key virtue of high-performing Agile teams.  But use discretion when calling attention to issues; some things are better brought up in private, especially if it is specifically a shortcoming with the Scrum Master.

2. Encourage your Scrum Master

Good Scrum Masters encourage their teams often. But who encourages the Scrum Master?  When you notice that the Scrum Master has done something to help the team, let them know they are appreciated.  Yes, that’s part of their job, but we all need encouragement from time to time.

3. Brainstorm with your Scrum Master

Take time to think about what may be causing an issue, and partner with them to come up with a creative solution.  No one person has all the answers.  Two heads are always better than one.

4. Quit pretending you understand everything

Sometimes communication is not clear, or a requirement is not well-defined.  Moving ahead based purely on assumptions is dangerous and can create obstacles; obstacles that the Scrum Master may have to expend unneeded energy removing.  Have some humility, ask questions, and confirm your assumptions.

5. Ask your Scrum Master to teach or refresh your team on a specific subject

One of the greatest motivators for personal growth is having to teach someone else about a subject.

6. Finally, step up and lead

Scrum teams don’t have a defined “leader”, and the Scrum Master is not the team’s “leader” either.  Agile teams are self-organizing.  Teams often need nudging in the right direction, but it’s OK (actually preferable) for team members to step up and lead different aspects of sprint activity.

In closing

The perfect Scrum Master doesn’t exist.  But guess what – you are not perfect either.  So next time you want to complain about your Scrum Master, take a step back and try to understand where they are in their Scrum Master journey, and lend a helping hand to keep them moving along that path.  The Scrum Master will benefit, the team will benefit, and your working relationships will improve.  That’s a win-win-win scenario.

This is an Agile Alliance community blog post. Opinions represented are personal and belong solely to the author. They may not represent the opinion or policy of Agile Alliance.

Add to Bookmarks Remove Bookmark
Add to Bookmarks Remove from Bookmarks
Add to Bookmarks Remove from Bookmarks
Dwight Kingdon

Dwight Kingdon

Agile Coach, passionate about the values and principles that make agility successful and sustainable. Hooked on all things Agile – whether at work or home. @AgileDK

Recent Agile Alliance Blog Posts

Post your comments or questions

Discover the many benefits of membership

Your membership enables Agile Alliance to offer a wealth of first-rate resources, present renowned international events, support global community groups, and more — all geared toward helping Agile practitioners reach their full potential and deliver innovative, Agile solutions.

Not yet a member? Sign up now