For teams transitioning to an Agile or Hybrid approach, comprehending the responsibilities of a Scrum Master can be challenging. Individuals previously accustomed to the ‘waterfall’ model of project management may mistakenly believe that Scrum Masters are just ‘subordinate’ project managers. Although this analogy has some truth to it, the intricacy of the Scrum Master role extends much beyond this view.
Although an individual may possess exceptional project management skills, there is no guarantee that they would excel in the role of a Scrum Master. Fundamentally, a project manager is a manager who can evaluate the bigger picture and assign assignments to members of the team based on their individual proficiencies.
In closing the distance between the team and the product owner, the Scrum Master has a critical role to play. In the analogy of a traffic-jammed roadway, the Scrum Master showcases their competence to remove potential barriers and guarantee smooth and efficient delivery of the project. This begs the question of what traits are vital to excel in this position?
This statement reflects the philosophy of “I serve as I lead, and lead as I serve.”
Servitude is frequently associated with leadership, creating an apparent contradiction. Even in a democratic society, those in positions of authority are described as ‘public servants’, a phrase that stems from the medieval principle of ‘noblesse oblige’. This suggests that individuals of elevated social status have an obligation to care for their subordinates.
If a leader is an individual who encourages and motivates their team to work collectively towards a common goal, then a servant-leader is someone who achieves this by means of collaboration and mutual aid instead of commonly applied authority. To maximize the productivity of developers, it is necessary to establish a work environment that is uninterrupted. Hence, it is the obligation of an accomplished Scrum Master to establish such a setting for their team.
In the role of a servant-leader, it is crucial to cultivate the progress of team members, recognize areas of potential development, and offer the necessary assistance and direction to support them in achieving their objectives. A commendable Scrum Master would take the necessary time to understand not only the emotions of their team members but also their own, and be present to aid in any way they can.
Maya Angelou once said: “When an individual can confidently display their true self, they radiate.”
Exceptional listening abilities encompass being attentive to the other person and making an attempt to comprehend not just their words but also their motives and history, even in disagreement. Furthermore, this entails genuinely caring for and prioritising the person’s feelings, ensuring that they perceive that they are heard and supported. Lastly, it demonstrates that one can pose constructive questions and offer valuable insights.
A skilled Scrum Master recognises the significance of actively listening to their team members. Daily scrums prove to be an efficient method of monitoring progress; however, the Scrum Master should also show attentiveness to the team’s verbal exchanges, meetings, and even the memes they post on their Slack channel.
Actively listening to others is a fundamental skill for a Scrum Master. It not only aids in building trust but also earns respect from the team. This empathic approach can assist in establishing trust among the team members and establishing a robust working rapport.
“Reflect the best in the individuals you observe and serve as an enthusiastic model.”
Every venture presents a chance for learning and self-improvement. Undertaking new challenges can furnish us with invaluable experiences that can facilitate personal growth. Nevertheless, due to the pressures of meeting deadlines, solving problems, and working within tight timelines, it is often difficult to find the time to contemplate the best approach.
The task of a Scrum Master is to assist each team member in recognising their potential for personal development and to help them pinpoint areas for improvement. A coach need not necessarily provide direction, but should lend a hand to their students in gleaning insights from each experience.
As a coach, it is vital to offer encouragement and direction to your players in regards to handling the emotions that accompany teamwork. Anxiety and worry can be overpowering, however, with the aid of a dependable friend or family member, it is achievable to transform these emotions into constructive outcomes.
Self-assurance in expressing oneself
As a team, we are at our most productive when we all have access to the same high-calibre data.
The prime responsibility of a Scrum Master is to ensure that team members communicate effectively, as it is a prerequisite for the triumph of any collective effort.
Being self-assured and assertive can prove to be highly advantageous for a Scrum Master. Demonstrating effective communication within the team sets an example for team members to follow. Moreover, since the Scrum Master plays a pivotal role in bridging the development team and the project owner, it is vital that they communicate confidently and articulately between the two.
Resolution of Conflicts
A group performs remarkably when its members can set aside their differences.
Mismanaged conflicts can significantly impede the progress of any team. Often, the root cause can be traced back to either inadequate communication or the presence of a few excessively zealous members. This can give rise to an atmosphere of stress which can be extremely damaging to the team and the outcomes they can deliver.
An adept Scrum Master acknowledges that conflict and tension are an inherent aspect of any team environment. Consequently, they must possess the aptitude required to assist others in addressing their emotions, resolving conflicts constructively, and offering forgiveness when needed.
This proficiency is closely related to the other abilities we have explored thus far, but also necessitates the capability to assess all opinions impartially, remain unbiased, and support people in re-contextualising the problem to attain a fair resolution that benefits everyone involved.
Show initiative in bringing about the much-needed paradigm shift in others.
When we become overly immersed in the difficulties facing others, we run the risk of falling into the same patterns of thinking. To be an effective Scrum Master, it is crucial that you are capable of precisely identifying and framing the problems at hand.
Reframing entails altering the perspective on a situation by examining alternative viewpoints. This can prove valuable when someone is fixated on a specific action plan without considering other possibilities, or if they have classified something as a problem without acknowledging the potential advantages it could offer.
Given that the Scrum Master possesses an extensive comprehension of the team’s abilities, it is their responsibility to assist others in re-contextualising a problem in a way that can be tackled by the team’s distinct skill set.
The responsibilities of a Scrum Master are significantly more intricate than those of a conventional manager. It demands a distinctive skill set that combines the attributes of a developer, coach, psychologist, facilitator, and leader. A prosperous Scrum Master must be capable of adopting a pragmatic, hands-on approach and fostering strong connections with the development team.