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As a Scrum Master, looking outward and seeing where people need work can be easy. You might find yourself helping the Product Owner better manage the backlog. The team may need your help sticking to goals. Looking outward can be easy. Looking inward, on the other hand, can be quite tricky. Inspecting and adapting do not only apply to the team and Product Owner. It applies to the Scrum Master as well. As a Scrum Master, you owe it to your team, your Product Owner, and yourself to be the best Scrum Master you can be. Here are a few Scrum Master dos and don’ts
Keep an open mind
When looking at issues focusing on your own ideas too much can be problematic. You may have ideas on exactly how to solve a problem. But should you be the one solving the problem? When it comes to being a Scrum Master, you need to keep an open mind. Work with the team to come up with strategies to solve the issues. You are a guide for the team. Help guide them to a solution by listening to their ideas and working with them to bring them to life.
There is always time to learn something new. Scrum Masters need to iterate themselves like they would iterate a team. By learning new things the Scrum Master betters themselves. That self-improvement benefits the team. Learning takes many forms and does not always need to be a massive undertaking. It could be as simple as learning a new retrospective approach or finding new ways of asking questions. Find something that interests you and pursue it.
Get comfortable being uncomfortable
It may feel strange to say “get comfortable being uncomfortable” but that is only the beginning. Conversations in retrospectives might not go where you expect. Get used to it. Daily Scrums might take longer because a senior engineer likes to talk. Though you may not be comfortable doing it, be ready to talk to that engineer. There are many facets to being a Scrum Master which means going into the unknown more than you might think.
Learn about what the team is working on
When starting out with a team it is easy to get lost in all the jargon. There may be conversations around topics you have never heard of. Take the time to ask questions. Not only will you learn something new, but you will also show your team you are invested in what they do.
Limit yourself to working with only the team
Scrum Masters all over may find themselves only working at the team level. Doing so limits the potential of the Scrum Master. Sure, the team and Product Owner will need help with things but the organization as a whole has a need as well. By working outside the team you can learn new things and grow as a Scrum Master.
Dictate exactly how to do things
Telling the team exactly how to do things can be a hard habit to break. You are the one with the training and the job title, so why should you not tell them exactly how to do things? If you find yourself doing this, stop. The team has a stake in the Agile journey and Scrum. If you dictate how they should be doing things they no longer feel any ownership of what is going on. By taking into account their opinions on how things should work they are more engaged and committed.
Sit and quote the Scrum Guide
If someone starting a sentence with “well actually…” gets on your nerves then you know why quoting the Scrum Guide is a don’t. Teams are on a journey that they lead. By quoting the Scrum Guide to a team you severely limit the creativity of the team. If you insist on doing things by the book you will lose out on creative solutions to problems you had not thought of.
Wait for issues to come to you.
You need to put in the effort to find things that may be causing the team pain. You can wait for a retrospective for issues to come up, You can wait until a team member comes to you with a problem. Or you can take a look for yourself. Many issues go unnoticed because the team has always worked this way. They may not know something needs to change. You cannot expect a team member to notice all the things that need changing and do their job developing the product.
This is not a comprehensive list of Scrum Master dos and don’ts. If you have more, comment below.
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