Scrum Masters are People Too — Give ’Em a Break, and a Hand

by Dwight Kingdon

There are great Scrum Masters and lousy Scrum Masters.

There are also great and lousy managers, developers, testers, salespeople, and neighbors. People are people — no matter what their profession or role in life. Scrum Masters are people too. And just like every profession, most people grow and improve with time and experience. Some grow more quickly than others.

Speak up when something doesn’t look right

Sweeping issues under the rug never helps. Transparency is a key virtue of high-performing Agile teams. But use discretion when calling attention to issues; some things are better brought up in private, especially if it is specifically a shortcoming with the Scrum Master.

Encourage your Scrum Master

Good Scrum Masters encourage their teams often. But who encourages the Scrum Master? When you notice that the Scrum Master has done something to help the team, let them know they are appreciated. Yes, that’s part of their job, but we all need encouragement from time to time.

Brainstorm with your Scrum Master

Take time to think about what may be causing an issue, and partner with them to come up with a creative solution. No one person has all the answers. Two heads are always better than one.

Quit pretending you understand everything

Sometimes a communication is not clear, or a requirement is not well-defined. Moving ahead based purely on assumptions is dangerous and can create obstacles; obstacles that the Scrum Master may have to expend unneeded energy removing. Have some humility, ask questions, and confirm your assumptions.

Ask your Scrum Master to teach or refresh your team on a specific subject

One of the greatest motivators to personal growth is having to teach someone else about a subject.

Finally, step up and lead

Scrum teams don’t have a defined “leader”, and the Scrum Master is not the team’s “leader” either. Agile teams are self-organizing. Teams often need nudging in the right direction, but it’s OK (actually preferable) for team members to step up and lead different aspects of sprint activity.

Agile Alliance is a nonprofit global member organization, supporting and serving the Agile community since 2001.