Why do most Scrum masters fail?

Tram Ho

If you’ve seen Scrum introduced at a company, you’ve probably seen this before. The company is starting with the Scrum and the Scrum Master is suddenly needed.

The company requires a Team, who they want to become a Scrum Master. A brave member of the development team stepped forward and said: “I will do it” .

Having the courage to pick up the glove is one thing, getting ready to play the role is another.

Often this person does not know what he is doing. At best, Volunteer is a bumpy ride. At worst, this person is destined to fail and is completely unprepared to perform the role of the Scrum Master.

Now imagine the development team being lucky to have someone who walked ahead and understanding Scrum really well. Can a new Scrum Master be set for success?

A great understanding of Scrum is not enough

Imagine you are a great piano player. Does this automatically make you a great piano teacher?

Of course not. Just because you know how to play the Piano really well, doesn’t mean you have soft skills to teach others to play the Piano.

Now imagine you are a master of Scrum. You know everything you need to know about Scrum. Does this mean you are a great Scrum Master?

That is absolutely not. You need to be able to influence all layers in an organization from colleagues to management in order for them to understand Scrum. This is a completely different ball game, in which just understanding Scrum will not be able to do.

For the same reason, the best professors with the best research aren’t always the best teachers. Just because you understand something really well doesn’t mean you can help others understand it.

The role of the Scrum Master has two equally important parts:

  1. Understand Scrum.
  2. Help others understand Scrum.

The second part is often not fully considered when appointing a Scrum Master.

Being a great Scrum Master is all about soft skills

“For people to respond to you, you must respond to them, instead of reacting.”

# – Abhijit Naskar

To succeed as a Scrum Master, you need great soft skills. You need to be a master of situational leadership. You need to be able to read the room and adjust your posture depending on the audience and the situation.

Some different views of a great Scrum Master:

  • Coach – Coach
  • Mentor – Counselor
  • Teacher – Teacher
  • Change agent – Change agent
  • Facilitator – Dispatchers

This list is not exhaustive. There are many points of view that you need to grasp as a Scrum Master (See further reading below).

A Scrum Master needs all the soft skills of a great manager, but they often have no management experience.

The word manager may leave a different impression for each one, so allow me to explain a bit. In my opinion, a great manager is a “Servant Leader”, who creates an environment where everyone can succeed. They not only focus on results and are not obsessed with Micro-manage or processes. They set a direction and paved the way for people to find the best way to move forward.

No one reports to the Scrum Master, but they need to be able to influence the entire organization. This is called “influence without authority”. A untitled Leadership. Influence without authority means that you need to act like a Scrum whisperer and get people on the right track, because they actually want to do it themselves.

This is exactly why most Scrum Masters fail.

Members of a Development Team are often chosen and hired because of technical and technological competence rather than the soft skills of a manager. They usually never have any experience as a manager. I have worked at companies where the new Scrum Master is not included in the same soft skills training programs that new managers are trained on. Although soft skills are also essential for the role of the Scrum Master.

Does your knowledge of Scrum really limit your ability as a Scrum Master?

As a Scrum Master, your understanding of Scrum will become not a problem quickly. The problem becomes how to make others understand Scrum better and assist in finding a better way to work.

Developers need to understand software engineering. The product owner needs to understand product management. The Scrum Master needs to be the master in Servant Leadership and Leadership situations.

Shift your focus from just understanding Scrum to developing your soft skills

“Changing practices is one thing; changing minds is quite another ”- Mike Cohn

The Scrum Master is not only about what you know, but also about your ability to help others out to bring out the best in yourself with the Scrum framework as the foundation.

Your ability to help others is the basis of soft skills: Communication, Situation Leadership and Servant Leadership.

Typically new Scrum Master is chosen based on knowledge rather than soft skills. Soft skills are equally important and should be considered when choosing Scrum Masters.

Training soft skills is hard work. Even if you have the theory, you need to apply it every day to get better. There are many courses out there to help train your soft skills.

Here are some examples of topics that will help you become a better Scrum Master:

  • Conversational skills – Communication skills
  • Public speaking – Public speaking skills
  • Group dynamics – Group dynamics
  • Giving and receiving feedback – Giving and receiving feedback
  • Motivational interviewing – Motivational interviews
  • Leadership – Leadership
  • Coaching – Training
  • Influencing – Influence
  • Assertiveness – Assertive
  • Building said safety – Building psychological safety

Next time you think about what you can do to become better as a Scrum Master, instead of focusing on your Scrum knowledge, see what you can improve in soft skills. mine. It is often more beneficial to invest in your Scrum knowledge, because in this way you are ahead of others.

Thank you for reading. Please Share or Follow if you like this translation and share your thoughts! Hope you like my other translations too.

Source: Maarten Dalmijn

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