Why do Scrum Masters fail?
By: Katie Johns
There is a famous quote that goes that ‘Being a leader comes with a lot of responsibility’. Who can better understand this than the Scrum Master? Each day brings a new challenge for the scrum master and the team looks up to them for an issue resolution. With so much pressure, it’s normal to make mistakes and sometimes fail.
There are a lot of challenges that a Scrum Master has to face each day. It’s like walking the tight rope day after day. While there are many guides on how to become a successful Scrum Master, what are some of basic things that a scrum master may overlook and head towards failure? But first and foremost, if the scrum master, sees the word FAIL as the ‘first attempt in learning’, the person can deal with future situations in a better way.
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To consider the larger picture, the Scrum Master must address key areas like the vision of the team, keeping the scrum board clear and updated, having an updated dashboard, and evaluating if the team has an ownership of the entire process (even when the scrum master is away). One of the most critical responsibilities of the Scrum Master is to coach the team. It includes coaching the team on the scrum goals, setting the expectations accordingly, helping the team members meet their commitment, and supporting them to redirect towards the goal of the project, if required. A successful scrum master is one who believes that they are in the business of helping others and increasing the team members’ productivity is usually their key focus.
Here are some common mistakes that the scrum masters make.
- Not explaining the purpose of the sprint
Scrum Masters tend to be so deeply involved in the implementation that, at times, they forget to explain the purpose of the sprint to the team members. While working with multiple teams, the scrum masters tend to forget the people who are involved, while moving them around different sprints. If they explain the purpose clearly and address all concerns, the outcome of the sprint will be much better.
The scrum master must also remember that change is unsettling for anyone. If it comes without any explanation, it becomes a matter of great concern. Therefore, if the intent of the change, and the purpose of the sprint are explained, then life becomes much easier for everyone.
- There is a frequent work spillover to the next sprint
The ideal situation is that all the work in a particular sprint is finished on time. The Scrum Master should make it a practice that all the work is accomplished in a particular sprint and is not carried forward to the next sprint. If a team members are allowed to carry forward the backlog into the next sprint often, it becomes a habit over a period of time. Ability to plan, re plan, and refocus indicates the commitment of the team, and also reflects if the team members are able to achieve the desired results or are under committed. If the scrum master allows backlog to be carried forward, it also shows that the team doesn’t take sprints seriously and are OK with spillovers.
The scrum master should encourage the practice that work spillovers are not good, and if the sprint end is close by, the team members should first try to get things done rather than thinking of carrying it forward.
- Always leading the daily Scrum Meetings
The Scrum Master doesn’t have to lead the scrum meetings on a daily basis. During the first few scrum meetings, the rules and purpose of the scrum meeting should be explained, and then the team members should be allowed to lead the discussions, which are always timed. One of the best practices that the scrum master follows is running the first few meetings and letting the team members know about it. Post those meetings, the team members should be allowed to initiate the discussions while the scrum master should only speak when required to.
- Have a one to one discussion with a team member to address specific concerns
If there are performance or attitude related concerns related to a particular team member, the scrum master should address it on a one to one basis. If the discussion happens in front of other people, the team member may feel threatened and try to defend. With a one on one discussion, the feedback is usually taken positively by team members who wish to improve and learn.
Do you wish to share more ideas on what practices can help a scrum master to avoid failure? You can get in touch with us today for more interesting discussions.
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