Advice For A New Scrum Master

| March 29, 2023 | By

I was teaching a Project Brilliant Advanced Certified ScrumMaster workshop and asked participants to reflect on a question.

“If you could go back to the beginning of your Scrum Master career, what tips and advice would you give yourself?”

I began to reflect on the question myself and thought it would be interesting to see what my LinkedIn network had to say. You can read the comments below. I hope it is helpful for all of the new Scrum Masters out there.

“Listen Listen Listen…"

“Be the “rubber duck” for the team. It can help understand a bit more of how each individual works, identify opportunities for cross-functional learning and uncover blockers that the team (and you!) might not notice alone.”

“Listen, listen, and listen, do not rush to make any changes 😀 I do not have a rule of thumb however, what I do is to focus on getting to know the developers and their skills/responsibilities within the team, build trust and develop positive relationships.”

“Ask questions like why and how for instance.“

“Make sure to help my teams understand the "why" we do things, not just the "what" and "how".”

“Listen and absorb as much as you can. Understand the current process thoroughly and understand the philosophy behind Scrum Guide and its fine components. Then see how Agile frameworks fit the current projects/software. Pushing or advocating for changes should be last on the list.”

“Flexibility - Be more contextual rather than having a “ready-made” recommendation that doesn’t fit our situation. Autonomy - Create more rooms for teams to experiment with their thoughts and learn from the process. … and lots more!”

“I'd try to help the team, and PO, connect the dots continuously to the business/customer outcomes... which probably generates a lot of conversation and rethinking of what the team is doing on a day-to-day, sprint-to-sprint, etc. basis.”

“If I could go back to the start of my ScrumMaster journey, I would strongly urge myself to be proactive and anticipate any potential issues. Have a vision of success in mind and devise a plan to bring it to fruition. Work diligently on building trust and mutual respect with colleagues and make sure your communication is both crystal clear and effective. Focus on collaboration and inspire the team by praising their accomplishments. Don't be afraid to tweak your strategy as necessary and always welcome questions, comments, and ideas from the team. Aim for a positive and productive atmosphere at all times!”

“There's 1) the agile intent and design to move quickly and then there's 2) what's happening in front of you. The space between is bigger than you think. See that. Be patient.”

“You harvest what you plant. And you need to have the patience to see the seeds blossom. Give it a Quarter, or so.”

“Everyone will not be ready for change at the same time and at the same rate.”

“🤔don’t bother. I love the SM role, don’t get me wrong. I get tremendous value from the role. But oftentimes you just sit there and reflect and let your mind wander 😀”

“I would say: don't panic, don't rush, pay attention to culture, attitude, expectations, things you can control, things you can learn, things you can experiment, listen more, understand the reasons behind Why, connect the dots, focus on effective communication and make good connections. :) That's for the beginning.”

“I would share this article with myself:" 

“Find experienced mentors as quickly as you can--outside your company. There's a flood of both good and bad information out there, and mentors can help you sort out the BS.”

“Spend more time with my “Ben Kopel.” His wisdom would have helped me learn to trust in the simpler, more powerful actions - that weren’t so obvious back then - earlier and saved me all the headaches.”

“I would tell myself to have more fun and that the journey is for everyone. It is not a competition. The power of influencing people's lives should shape the culture of the future”

“Stick to the agile principles and values when and wherever possible. If you choose to employ scrum, follow the guide. Don’t use points.”

“Get deeply curious about the big picture and learn about systems thinking and organizational design... even if it seems well over your pay grade to influence in those areas. Taking the full Path to CSP to CSP-SM is one way to learn about these. Armed with sufficient skill and confidence, you may be surprised.”

“Work in an agile team as a team member.”

“I’d tell myself that I have to make the mistakes to learn and to not beat myself up over them.”

“I would say to learn how to listen "between the lines" not just plain listen. Their words, how they say it, when they say and body language is the complete message not just the voice. Multiply this by 7-10 people per team, a Scrum Master needs to be "farther out" to see the big picture. Just like the way a "servant" is with a master. HA! is this why they came up with "Servant Leadership"”

“Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Less gray hairs that way”

“I would time travel and be like a female Obi-Wan Kenobi "You have more power here than you think you do"...."Use the force of Servant Leadership". Early on in my career transitioning from PM to CSM, I was less confident about where I stood in alignment with the Dev Team and PO. I looked at it like a EA for the Dev Team and the Product Owner was above me. Soon, I realized that was bad culture and that the PO and the CSM are partners in crime working in alignment with the Dev Team to make the magic happen. Each person has an equally valuable, but different role. I would also download all of my knowledge over the past 20 yrs.”

“Take your time!; not everyone will agree with you and it is ok; imposter syndrome is just your ego trying to intimidate you, don't let it; starting with the basics is your best friend; be comfortable with silence; you don't have to have the right answer all the time and lastly, fill your cup before you try to fill others'”

“For me, a piece of advice that I would give myself (and others) is to give yourself grace. Grace to learn, grace to fail. Grace to be in the moment and absorb all that is going on. Being new to the Scrum Master role is daunting. It involves continual change. Change for you. Change for the team. Change for the organization. As we move forward in our journey we all move and progress at a different pace. And that's ok. Allow yourself and others the grace to find the pace that fits the need.”

“Don't be attached to the results of your role as a servant leader as long as you're coaching the teams right. You want your teams to succeed. When the team succeeds, take a backseat and let them cherish their success. When the team doesn't, inspect and adapt, and avoid blaming yourself or the team. Everyone tries the best they can.”

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