Scrum Master Dojo

“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom.
Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power
Lao-Tzu

SM DojoSome may think Scrum Master is an easy job to do and is just about facilitation. That is so wrong. It is very important for Scrum Master to master himself , and many challenging situations:) And here are some “traps” scrum master may fall in I would like to show some ways out.

So, here is collection of my favorite tips for Scrum Masters …

Master Neutrality

Fight an attempt to take sides. This is hard if you consider opinion close to yours, also not always easy to resist personal favors.

Ask yourself what is more important now: to get tactical issue solved (and please your ego) or enable team in solving it, have artificial harmony or heavy storming that uncovers real issues to solve.

Mind also talking affirmative words, like “yes”, “ok”, rather use neutral: “thanks”…This is very important when managing conflicts and taking 1 on 2 persons involved in conflict and navigate them.

Keep the balance!

Master “Storming”

Storming is unavoidable part of any team development. What you need to keep in mind that team will try to involve you in storming with them. Team members will dump all their problems on you. Often some will talk to you when they are supposed to talk to the team when they are sad, mad, frustrated. They will also try to get you on “their side”. These are indication they want you in the storming and appealing to you as to judge and expect you to take certain position (their side).

Do not let yourself be involved in that. Reflect responsibility gently to the team. Stay patient, turn emotions off. Team should feel you are with them, available and supporting, use “we”, never “you”, but position yourself as not part of storming team, so they seek solutions among themselves and storm together.

Master Yourself

Definitely! As Scrum Master you have not right to freak around! You are the one that shall stay calm and do not “reflect” when everything / everyone else around does. Mastering does not only ends in what you say and do, but also how. Include body language, facial expression, tone and most importantly thoughts.

Master Clarify

Some team members may behave the way so that their intentions are not clear to you (or the other team members). They also may not look ok to you. Any assumption is false here! You simply do not know their insights. Or at least this  statement is very useful to be stated periodically. Therefore always assume that you do not know them.

Ask for clarity, ask directly , find comfortable time and place, do it 1 on 1. Practicing active listening will also help: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Active_listening

Master Conflicts

Do not stop conflicts, navigate them. This means, stay neutral, stay calm, understand intentions and most importantly make sides involved to understand each other’s intentions, increase trust and help to reduce negative impact on team.

I always try to make conflicting side open up about how do they feel. Important here is to start conversation with “I” and not “You” since statements starting with “you” quite often sound “blamish”.

Master Agreements

There are situation when team in involved in heavy debates and cannot come to an agreement. You as facilitator shall help them to come to a solution, but beware of trap of compromise in order to get common agreement.

Common agreement is something crafted of the opinions of the team,  that may be very diverse. Do not start engineer something on top of the parts, consisting of opinions of team members. Because:

  1. They may be not compatible
  2. It is not their but your ideas that glue them (so do not expect much enthusiasm and energy)

Make sure agreements are truly owned by the team, it is better to state there is no agreement rather then one designed under your influence, for the sake of having one. Be patient and rather let team do it!

Master Presence

There will be times when your mind will attempt to drift away from here and now. This might happen if you start thinking about what to do next, or why certain thing did happen. Drop it! Stay present with the team and what is currently happening and what is the most important problem they are trying to solve, to be able to facilitate their collaboration efficiently.

Master Powerful Questions

You need to be able to challenge. The trick for servant leader is to challenge the team the way it is not closes opportunities and focuses mindset on thinking how to achieve certain things instead of narrowing them down. Here comes the power of open questions, those that start with magic words like “What”, “How”, “Who”, “Why” and “Why not”.

Also consider silence and one of the most powerful one. Do not try to fill it. Let there be uncomfortable silence. Let there be many opportunities. Here is when team thinking starts…

Here are some very nice inspiring and useful questions I would reccomend

Master Positivity

Last but not least one.

The more negative things you will witness the more positivity you should give to the team. This not about being “happy”, this is about enabling team via believing in their capability, empowering with trust and leading by example.

Turn mistakes of others into inspiring and powerful conversation to help them to learn. When it is getting hard, close your eyes and remember positive moment when team performed well. Remind those. Encourage team and yourself. And do not drag mistakes team and you did in the past with you. Leave them!

Stay rich for your capacity for positivity, garden your mind and team spirit!

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  1. 8 Key Aspects of Scrum Master Role | RSA Stories

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