The Scrum Master is a strategic element needed for a Scrum team to function well. In order to take over this role successfully, there are certain standards that a SM should count with. Let’s view the top 5 of them!
A Scrum Master (SM) is the one who promotes and drives Scrum along with its values. This definition is clear from the Scrum guide, as well as the fact that this methodology leaves space open to respect certain pillars but not go into detail in the practices.
As a result, each organization or project can be managed in different ways, and the SM interacts with many actors, which can generate some gray areas about their responsibilities and tasks. However, there are certain standards that must be met in order to succeed in Scrum. Let’s go into detail with each of them.
The Scrum Master must be an organized person. By helping the Product Owner (PO) with the planning and management of the Product Backlog, the SM has the information to support the PO and transfer this knowledge to the development team. They will be the interlocutors of many conversations and must be able to make sure that all action items are stated clearly and with a responsible person. It is essential that no information is lost, and with this, they can be in charge of sending a final summary.
They can also collaborate so that each team member knows what is expected of them and that nothing escapes them. Being an example of organization for the rest of the team, the SM must also provide tools so that the team can manage itself. They put themselves at the team’s service, understand how they prefer to work, and offer them processes that adapt to their needs. They are one of those responsible for finding and implementing a system that is comfortable and works for everyone.
Finally, they also demonstrate their organizational skills by making sure the team is focused on the goals of the current iteration by keeping them on track and clear of obstacles.
Communication and transparency of information are arguably two of the key aspects of Scrum success. A Scrum Master must be the main driver promoting and encouraging open communication channels and information that is effective, natural, and collective.
They must create the space for everyone to feel comfortable expressing themselves and if possible, for there to be trust among the Scrum Team members. In this way, when something important happens, the communication channels will be well built and well oiled. This should be multidirectional, i.e., internal within the team but also with the PO and with any stakeholder that applies to the case. Without good communication, the potential of the team members may be wasted. All team members need to feel heard and have a voice, thereby generating a constant cycle driven by healthy motivation.
A Scrum Master has the responsibility to think and act for the wellbeing of their team members. One part is to ensure that they have excellent performance and results. They must train the team methodologically to ensure that everyone understands Scrum and how to follow it in the specific context where they work. It may be the case that there are team members taking their first steps in development, and it is good that the SM can show them the how and why of things.
At the same time, teams are made up of individuals with different ideas, personalities, and styles, and the SM must overcome the challenge of knowing how to reach each one of them. Motivational skills will also be very important in order to seek continuous improvement and maximize the team’s potential.
4. Lead by example
Although a Scrum Master is not necessarily the team leader, they have the role of moderator and communicator, and they should be seen as such by the rest of the team. They must be proactive to move from topic to topic, be willing to get involved, to lend a hand with anything, or simply to listen.
A great SM is someone that team members want to follow. It means being coherent and consistent with the discourse. This coherence must be constant and expressed in concrete actions every day. One must seek to inspire with deeds as well as words.
5. Focus on people
In each of the other sections, although certain qualities were mentioned, the truth is that they all focused on the same thing — people. This is the main point to always keep in mind. People are the most important part, and the Scrum Master must always be attentive to their needs.
The road to excellence begins with small acts that seek to make each of the team members, and consequently the team itself, feel at ease and eager to continue. A SM that knows and has this as rule number 1 will focus on their work and customize it from the profile and characteristics of each team member to empower them.
The last lines
So far, we have seen the 5 skills that I consider fundamental in a Scrum Master, but how do we know if we are on the right track?
I once read in a recognized methodology blog that the final objective of an SM is considered fulfilled when the development team no longer needs them. That is, that person supported and drove the continuous growth and maturation of the team so they no longer need them on a daily basis.
Hopefully, the SM will leave a positive legacy, and their advice will always be well received and sought after. However, there should be a time when they look for another place to achieve the same result, and that is what we need to aim for.
Comments? Contact us for more information. We’ll quickly get back to you with the information you need.