The scrum master role is a unique one. It is simple in its purpose, difficult and rewarding. It is being in the here and now while being two and three steps ahead of the team. Doing what is needed so the team can deliver value more effectively. Balancing between constraints internally to the team and in the ecosystem of the team.
“The Scrum Master is accountable for the Scrum Team’s effectiveness.” 2020 scrum guide.
Helping teams then can go wrong in so many different ways. Incompetence, lack of knowledge, not having an Agile attitude or mindset are just a few ways a scrum master can go wrong. Check (5 worst scrum masters)
What I want to focus on here is how being nice and well intentioned can sometimes cause issues for the team. What those seemingly nice person mistakes look like.
Avoiding ALL conflict:
Conflict is really important and valuable in teams. Especially that ones that want to create novel solutions and solve complex problems. Fake harmony becomes the poison that holds back the team from pushing towards more effectiveness.
Managing the conflict is important. That means to maintain it within the boundaries of the team deems professional and acceptable.
“I don’t mind a little argument now and then. It’s healthy. You just have to be sure it doesn’t turn into a fight. You want sparks to fly, but you don’t want the whole damn house to burn down.” American writer and humorist Will Rogers
Rushes to give answers and solutions:
Sometimes you see problems in the team and you tell them that problem and solution. Sometimes even skipping explaining the problem with the intention to help the team. This is not bad in all situations, however, it makes the team dependent on the scrum master for solutions at best.
Another issue that occurs is that since the solution is not owned by the team the members will be less committed to implement and make it a success.
It is much easier to actually just give solutions, not effective, just easier. It is more effective to go through the coaching process.
Taking too much work themselves:
This is a problem for all well intentioned professionals. How do you know should you accept or reject doing something?
For scrum masters I can provide a general guideline.
- How urgent is this work? “If everything is urgent, nothing is.“
- What is the current capability within the team to solve it? Allowing the team to try and fail is ok as well, you are there to support anyway.
- If YOU do it, will the team become more effective AND better at self managing? Notice the “AND.”
Most great scrum masters get into it because they are well intentioned professionals who care about teams and customers. Finding the right balance and not allow those well intentions get in the way of the team improving is crucial and requires building coaching skills over time. It requires deliberate practice and focus on what needs to be done.