In Scrum, the scrum master owns the responsibility for the process, during his day-to-day activities, the Scrum master must ensure that the team is following the scrum spirit, process, and the different practices.
Selecting a scrum team’s scrum master can be the difference between success or failure of the team’s ability in adopting scrum, therefore, there is a huge importance to ensure that the selected Scrum Master has the Qualities, Skills and the right characteristics to help the team to adapt to the different challenges they will face while adapting this framework.
To help you determine who is the most suitable person to be approved as the scrum master, I prepared this list of Characteristics, Skills, and qualities that may help you to take the decision of who should be your next scrum master.
A scrum master main responsibility is to help the team to become better, there is no room for personal glory that can arouse antagonism from the team members. Another point related to the scrum master responsibility as the process enforcer, a true great scrum master, will make sure that they enforce the process with full collaboration with the team rather than enforcing their agenda of how the team should work.
Problem Solving Skills
One of the main activities of a scrum master is to remove impediments from the team. The scrum master should have the relevant skills, knowledge, and experience to remove any obstacles from the team during the Day-to-Day activities.
A Great Educator
The scrum master should have the ability to educate people to be able to work in the Scrum framework. This education is not only for the team, the scrum master should provide education for many other roles in the organizations that support the process and want to learn what agile means and what is scrum in particular.
Have the time to do is job
As part of its Day-to-Day work, the scrum master should observe how the team is performing based on his areas of responsibilities that include Communication (inside the team (Between team members) and outside (PO)), providing the environmental artifacts that will allow the team to grow, Enforcement of the process and many more.
This is just a partial list of the SM activities, but based on it, we can understand that the SM must be there for the team on a day-to-day basis, there are simply no magic solutions, the scrum master should invest is time on the team and for the team.
Focus on the team instead of technical solutions
The scrum master is not responsible to provide technical solutions; therefore, there is no real sense that the scrum master will be the most technical person on the team. The main reason for that is that highly technical people that are the team specialists will find it relatively difficult to focus on the process and the team, which is the main work, related to their role.
Mastering is Role
I think that it is obvious that a scrum master should be an expert in his field. A great scrum master will always search for new ways to improve his skills, knowledge, and practices that will help him handle the different challenges of its role.
Familiar with the organization
The scrum master should understand the organization hierarchy, complexity, culture and who are the key people that can help him to promote the agile agenda. A scrum master that controls these four organization aspects will have more tools to become more efficient in his work, simple as that.
Can Influence Others
It’s very easy, a scrum master that cannot influence his team will fail even before he starts, scrum masters do not have an authority to tell people what they need to do and therefore should have the ability to influence them based on charisma, leadership, respect, and trust.
Has a Coaching Personality
The main role of the scrum master is to coach the team and any other stakeholders (Product Owner, Tl’s Etc.) with Agile. A great scrum master has the personality to work with others and coaching them with pleasure and in a way that should help them to grow throughout the process, (the team success should be more important for him than his own success).
Committed to Both the Team and Process
The scrum master represents both the team and the process; it is his job to ensure that the team can work at the highest level and that the scrum process is enforced. A scrum master that he’s not fully committed to both the team and process will simply fail to be the leader as expected of him.
It is very simple. A great scrum master must be organized in order for him to handle all of its responsibilities and day-to-day activities that are crucial to the success of the team to perform at the highest level.
Scrum masters have some great responsibilities as the process enforcers, the bigger issue here is that they need to do their job without real authority (By definition the Scrum Master is a leader without an authority). A great SM must understand it and always look for new ways (Practices, Tools Etc.) that can improve the team and their chances to succeed with the project goals.
Self and Keen Learner
As an Educator, Coach or trainer, the scrum master should provide an example for others as a keen learner. That is the minimum expectation that we want to see in the person that has the responsibility to educate people across the organization and even more important the person.
Familiar with the Human Nature
A Scrum master should be able to remove impediments from the team that affects the team performance, to be able to understand the true problems of the team, the scrum master should know how to read facial expressions and to read body language that will help him to uncover the real problem of the team.
Another aspect of this issue related to the ability of the SM to create good communications and relationships with his team and any other stockholders that can help him to promote both his personal goals as the process enforcer and to help the tea team to succeed with their work.
Know how to Handle Conflicts
Scrum master will have conflicts that just a simple fact that we cannot ignore. The main reason that different great scrum masters from others is the SM understanding that conflicts are a necessary part of the team growth (Scrum Master that understands this issue, will use conflicts to improve the team and not for showing is abilities).
Familiar with the product
There is a great advantage in a scrum master that understand the product, let us just review some of the expected benefits:
- The scrum master can share is experience with the team once they need to make the estimations and commitments.
- The scrum master can ensure that the team will receive user stories that meet the INVEST standards.
- The scrum master will gain a better understanding of the complexity and challenges of the requirements.
Possess a Single Role
The scrum master is a full-time job and therefore need to be treated with the appropriate respect. To be able to do its job with the expected standards; it is highly recommended that the chosen SM will focus on only doing its role without wearing any other hats (A classic example of this issue is a team member that facilitates as both the SM and PO).
A scrum master must be a great facilitator; as the owner of the process, the SM should support the team to perform in the highest level and to create the environmental variables that will help them to do so. Knowing scrum is not enough, the scrum master should have the skills to resolve a problem that arises in the day-to-day activities and the ability to innovate new ways to help the team to increase their knowledge, practices, and efficiency.
A Servant leader
The scrum master should serve the team, PO, the organization, and not himself. He should lead by example (and not by title) and to sticks with the team during bad and good times. In the agile manifesto, we have a specific principle that can describe the real purpose of all idea behind the “Servant” leader:
“Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done”
As the servant leader, the scrum master is responsible for many aspects such as:
- Coaching, teaching and mentoring the organization with Scrum.
- Promoting self-organized teams and genuine team ownership.
- Helping others to perform at the highest level.
- Ensure that the scrum process is enforced.
- Lead by example and not by authority.
- Remove impediments from the team.
- Increase visibility and transparency.
Source: ministry of testing
How to Choose A True Great Scrum Master? | Supreme Agile