Top 7 Tips on How to Become a Great Scrum Master

Dec 30, 2019 | Project Management

Scrum Master is the name given to one of the very crucial roles of the project management framework. A scrum master has duties that are very different from a product owner and a development team. The scrum master is responsible for organizing the team and making sure that deadlines are met, and the product is delivered to the client on time. All the while, the scrum master has to make sure that the correct framework is followed. Is being a scrum master an easy job? Definitely not! Is it possible for one to become a great scrum master? Absolutely!

Here are a few practices that can help you become a great scrum master:

1. Consult the Team before Every Decision

Before you commit the team to any particular task, you need to make sure that they’re on board with the task. A scrum master does not have the authority to change any requests before consulting the team, even if he is extremely sure about the team’s decision. You need to remember that a team that is willing to cooperate and work together will be able to deliver good quality work.

When you consult the team and have everyone on board, delivering the work on time will be much easier. Consulting your team before making any decision can ensure that any confusion that might arise is cleared right at the beginning stages. When everyone is clear with regards to what needs to be done, doing the work becomes a whole lot easier.

2. Experiment with the Process

Remember, nothing is written in stone. While the principles of agility, be sure to experiment with the process and encourage the team to try new things. Experiments might not always turn out to be in your favor, but when they do, they can help you come up with unique ways of doing things – ways that you might not have been aware of before.

Run a usability test
Photographer: David Travis | Source: Unsplash

For example, if your team is doing well on two-week sprints, maybe you could ask them to take three-week sprints and observe the results of this new work method. New approaches to work reinvigorate the team and motivate them to try new things to meet their deadlines. It ensures that the creative element is present in their work.

3. Get Rid of the Word “Failure”

Usually, when a team is unable to finish a task before the deadline, it is known as a “failed sprint.” In order to be a great scrum master, you need to ensure that you banish this word from your dictionary due to the negative connotations that it comes with. If the team was unable to deliver what they had to, then instead of “failed sprint,” you can use the word “attempt” – in the same way as when a basketball player misses a shot, it is called an attempt and not a failure.

Using the word failure doesn’t just bring the morale of your team down; it also makes it that much more difficult for them to work harder to meet future deadlines and achieve future tasks. Treating a setback as an attempt will see your team members try their best to hit their target next time.

4. Praise Your Team Members

When you sincerely feel that your team has done a great job and has exceeded your expectations by delivering high-quality work in a very short period of time, you should praise them. Praising your team can lead to feelings of team cohesion and confidence. When you praise your team members, they feel good about the fact that their work is being appreciated, which means that they will work even harder the next time. It’s a win-win situation. However, make sure that you praise them when you genuinely feel that they have worked well. Don’t offer false praise. If you appreciate your team members too much, or for the smallest of things, your appreciation will lose its meaning.

5. Listen to the Team

It’s almost always intuitive to offer to jump in and give advice to the team when you, as a mentor, see that they’re struggling with something. A handy piece of advice would be to first listen to them and ask them what they think the best solution to the problem is. This will empower your team and will give you the opportunity to see how your team comes up with solutions to any issues that they may be facing. They might even be able to come up with solutions that you would never have thought of. This will only add value for you and for the project.

Gaining a deep understanding the problems that customers face is how you build products that provide value and grow. It all starts with a conversation. You have to let go of your assumptions so you can listen with an open mind and understand what’s actually important to them. That way you can build something that makes their life better. Something they actually want to buy.
Photographer: Headway | Source: Unsplash

When you solve all problems for your team, the team becomes complacent and relies on you to jump in to solve every issue that they have. Empower them by letting them solve their own problems and see how that turns out for the project and the team as a whole.

6. Don’t Use a Rule Book

Each project is different, and each stakeholder is different. As such, you can’t use the same rule book to deal with so many different variables. What you can do is consider writing user stories. This can help your team learn and work accordingly. If a stakeholder or a client needs to know when exactly you will be able to deliver the work, the best thing to do is to come up with a tentative deadline using your judgment and experience. A very useful piece of advice is to review each feature as it is built. That can greatly help the teamwork in a more efficient way.

7. Protect the Team

If you want to become a great scrum master, you need to know this. You need to protect the team from stakeholders or product owners that demand too much from them. This demand will put added pressure on the team, which will lead to a dip in their quality of work.

As their mentor, you need to be there for the team. In addition, you also need to protect your team against complacency. They are required to work to the best of their abilities in a short period of time, so if they get complacent, the work can be significantly compromised.

If you’re looking to become a great scrum master, the tips mentioned above that greatly help you in this endeavor. Remember, being a scrum master is not about being the boss; it’s about being a leader, motivating your team, protecting them from unnecessary stress, and, above all, ensuring that they work to the best of their abilities at all times.

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