How to Improve Your Scrum Master Skills

Insights | 01 May 2018

The role of a scrum master was listed as one of the top jobs in 2017 by LinkedIn[1]. Other organisations have predicted scrum master jobs will double over the next year.[2] Exciting news!

But for those of us who are considering this career path, you may be wondering how to, and what happens once you actually become a scrum master? To start, there is still a lot of learning and experience that is required.

Here’s a simple guide to help focus your path toward scrum master greatness:

  1. Start with the standup. Running a good standup is both art and science. A key point to remember is the standup is not for you (as the scrum master). It is for the team to come together quickly as a group to identify impediments and help each other overcome them. Ensure the meeting is not a round-robin set of unengaging ‘status updates’. If this is a regular occurrence, consider changing your routine. If possible, visit another team’s standup to learn how other scrum masters do it. Solicit feedback from your team on what is (and isn’t) working with the standup. Action what you can. Finally, if something looks like it will take more than the shorter meeting to resolve, port it over to a different time slot.[3]
  2. Nail the retrospective. A key part of our Scrum Master Certified (SMC™) course is facilitating and understanding the benefits of the Sprint Review and Sprint Retrospective Meetings. Scrum masters at the top of their game know that great retrospectives result in learning that improves teamwork. If you are finding this isn’t the case, consider how you are setting up the conversation. It can’t just be about what went wrong or what went right. Lead the group into questions around what can be done faster or more efficient in the future.
  3. Promote transparency everywhere. Remember the importance of transparency for scrum masters through artefacts, meetings and information radiators or team boards which may include burn charts depicting current progress. Learn to use these tools consistently and visibly. Remember that nothing will be successful unless the Scrum Team – the product owner, the development team and the scrum master – are all seeing (and understanding) the same set of facts. Tweet: Remember that nothing will be successful unless the Scrum Team - the product owner, the development team and the scrum master - are all seeing (and understanding) the same set of facts. @PMPartners
  4. Keep learning. Even if your professional training is mostly on the job, you can still take advantage of continuous learning opportunities. Skill development and certifications were key drivers behind 2017 salary increases for IT professionals.[4]  One study concluded that certification is “critical to getting a role” as a scrum master.[5] At PM-Partners, we ensure our workshops are facilitated by quality instructors who can balance real-world examples with solid theory.
  5. Let experience be the best teacher. Great scrum teams learn from experience, not because they are told what to do.[6] The role of a scrum master is to facilitate and foster communication between the product owner and the team and remember that the scrum master is not a project manager. Author and scrum master Zuzana Šochová describes the best scrum masters as those who actively push people “out of their comfort zones.”[7] She also recognises that it is a relatively new role, and not everyone will understand what a scrum master does. Šochová goes on to remind us: “Great ScrumMasters must be good listeners, facilitators, empathic, coaches and servant leaders. They shall be the biggest enthusiasts of agile and Scrum, otherwise they can’t get people engaged. Great ScrumMasters will create great self-organised high-performing teams and as a result of that make their company successful.”

In the end, the journey toward becoming the best scrum master will require focus and determination with lots of learning, training and mentorship along the way.

Dive in and model the exact level of passion and empathy you hope to inspire in others.

For more information on our Scrum Master Certified (SMC™) course please call us today on 1300 70 13 14.


1 thought on “How to Improve Your Scrum Master Skills”

  1. Michelle says:

    Hi guys,

    We’ve had a couple of our team attend Scrum training with Graeme Newey and we wanted to see whether he would be able to come out and meet with us to discuss running some further training with the whole IT team with the goal of brining the whole scrum team together to be more effective. Look forward to hearing from you. Thanks Michelle

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