How to measure Scrum Master's performance

Last post 02:55 pm November 13, 2018
by Tyler Reihmann
14 replies
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04:39 pm October 23, 2018

Hi guys,

 

I am very new here. so I will just ask very direct question. How do you (if you possibly can) measure your scrum master's performance? Please do not give me answers like happy metrics or any other things like that that cannot be used. i am seriously asking all of you how to actually measure the performance, something tangible, something tells me if SM is getting close to meet the goal.

06:36 pm October 23, 2018

Perhaps you first need to clarify what the goal you refer to is. For example, the goal of a good Scrum Master might be to make himself or herself largely redundant at a team level, so more of a focus can then be placed on service to the organization.

08:26 pm October 23, 2018

In my opinion as Ian already mentioned is how does he or she provide the service to the organization. Main goal of a Scrum master is to create high performing teams, help with agile transformation ... all this are services to the organization. If you wish to measure scrum master on how well he is creating high performing teams you can see this by the team velocity, but here is a limit as you can not increase velocity indefinitely, then after you can see how well he holds the velocity as this indicates he is helping team remove impediments, teach ... 
Agile transformation, coaching other scrum masters and people that wish to know more about it and where it can help.
Other than that following scrum framework and its execution takes a lot of time, especially if scrum master has 2 teams to which he is servant leader.

09:43 pm October 23, 2018

Hi Ian sand Denis,

thanks for replying.

Lets say SM’s in this case is to promote and support the team to embraces core agile principles and values and making sure they are entacted and followed. Just like overall generic SM responsibilities. How do you objectively as possible we measure that?

03:28 pm October 24, 2018

I think you're looking for outputs, and it seems to me the Scrum Master's role is more outcome based in nature. 

You could look at process improvement measurements, cycle times, audit teams for Scrum Compliance, etc, but you run the risk of falling into the trap of measuring Scrum instead of looking at the outcomes that result from your Scrum Master's involvement in the process.

This is a really good question, especially for those of us who are looking at moving into the Scrum Master role in our teams.  If it becomes part of our review criteria, what can we suggest as metrics?

03:44 pm October 24, 2018

Lets say SM’s in this case is to promote and support the team to embraces core agile principles and values and making sure they are entacted and followed. Just like overall generic SM responsibilities. How do you objectively as possible we measure that?

You could use an agile health check to measure such progress, but this would hardly be the same thing as measuring the performance of a Scrum Master. It would arguably be more an assessment of the performance of those senior executives who ought to be sponsoring agile change, and whether they are creating the sense of urgency for it. There can be multiple impediments to agile practice at an organizational level.

https://sites.google.com/site/agilepatterns/Agile%20Health%20Check.xls?attredirects=0

 

04:02 pm October 24, 2018

Measuring the Scrum Master's performance is difficult because their goals are more invisible.  On the "creating high performing teams" topic, the SM can only do so much and then the team starts to take over on their own.  On helping the organization to learn, understand and appreciate the values of Scrum, same answer applies.  Over the time the organization will start to improve on this organically. 

My current group of SMs have had this conversation among ourselves.  A few of us are new to the role and wanted to understand how they could know they were improving.  I know this sounds really bad but one of the "measurements" we came up with was how much time the individual has to surf the net, make phone calls about personal things, etc.  We arrived at that because it shows how little the teams and organization need you which in effect shows how much progress you have made in accomplishing your goals. Now, try to convince your HR department to use that as a progress indicator.  :)  

I'm going to be following this thread. It is a really good question and I'm looking forward to learning some things from the other contributors. 

08:53 pm October 24, 2018

**These are strictly my opinion and thoughts based on experience and observation.**

This is indeed an interesting question however, In my opinion we all need to re-visit what the calibre and knowledge level of the person taking up the role of a scrum master is, we also need to factor that whilst a scrum master may be true to the cause, the organization or the team he/she leads could reflect badly upon his performance... Let me elaborate with some examples.

First, I'd like to mention that in many organizations the scrum master is automatically perceived as the point of contact for all project timelines, milestones etc essentially filling in the role of a project manager as opposed to being a coach and a driver of change. Many a times, this role is even shared which can cause a bias in the way this role should ideally be executed.

Second, If you have a highly dysfunctional team that resists change combined with a management that does not understand scrum or Agile, no matter how good a scrum master you are, you will fail and fail hard and fail miserably. The scrum master will become the scapegoat for all problems related to the team and the scapegoat on which everyone can unload.

Third, the knowledge, education, mindset and practical experience of a person playing the role of a scrum master will determine his/her performance. 

I've interviewed many scrum master candidates and I hate to say this but even though they hold CSM's and PSM's, their fundamental knowledge is below expectation.

For example: I asked several candidates, who should lead the daily scrum? I don't think a single candidate I interviewed gave the text book answer which is the Development team. Everyone automatically said, it is the scrum master who should lead. My management has no problem hiring such candidates, however, I wouldn't if I were in that place because to me that encourages a command and control vs the objective to make a team self sufficient and self organizing.

Similarly, when asked who should maintain the product backlog, the answer I again get from candidates is Scrum Master. 

I've even asked some Agile Coaches these questions and they fail to give the correct answer.

It gives me the impression that candidates, especially those who are certified have done it only for the sake of landing a job than really applying their mind to embracing these concepts.

Lastly, if there are such candidates/coaches that get hired and go on to lead new teams, they are going to coach incorrectly, and if you end up in the midst of such people, then, even though you know scrum really well, you'll end up being a bad performer,  consumed by the fallacy and the ignorance of people around you.

Therefore in some organization, A high performing scrum master will be the one who follows every anti-pattern and follows all the wrong things that end up making the management and the team happy and the low performing scrum master would be the one that rebels against them to drive and embrace change!

07:45 pm October 25, 2018

Therefore in some organization, A high performing scrum master will be the one who follows every anti-pattern and follows all the wrong things that end up making the management and the team happy and the low performing scrum master would be the one that rebels against them to drive and embrace change!

Agreed fully, already met 2 scrum master not following the framework ignoring important parts in certain artifacts as team decided to do differently. But forcing things as well is not agile way, it is up to you how innovative you are without forcing it,at least if you are fully transparent you need to have good arguments.

 

Measuring performance is micro managing that brings nothing. I would say that scrum master is good if he made team cross functional and self organizing, so less and less actions are required by the scrum master. Then he did good job. If scrum master does not require much todo by the team he can focus higher on organization. There is always something to improve.

 

 

08:04 am October 26, 2018

Funny because, in my org, not every one "likes" my stance because I want them to respect the framework at first (I feel we are still in the Shu level) and they say "Oh no, you want us to apply Full Agile or Full Scrum, but our way of Agile / Scrum is working (I let you imagine every ScrumBut...)". So I'm a nasty boy, so probably a bad Scrum Master.

And yesterday, I heard about a Scrum Master, agreeing with the Dev Team to bypass the Sprint Retro, because "you know, we are late in the project, we need to spare every hour..." and everybody agree with him (so he is probably a good Scrum Master)

11:55 am October 26, 2018

so he is probably a good Scrum Master

This is the case, like children when they wish a candy and you say yes they are happy and used to kindness, if you do not give them candy you come out always as bad guy. Only time is needed that people see why you are not fully supportive in every action.

12:31 pm October 26, 2018

Here's what Greenleaf says about a servant leader:

“The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant-first to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served. The best test, and difficult to administer, is: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society? Will they benefit or at least not be further deprived?“

08:29 pm October 29, 2018

Funny because, in my org, not every one "likes" my stance because I want them to respect the framework at first (I feel we are still in the Shu level) and they say "Oh no, you want us to apply Full Agile or Full Scrum, but our way of Agile / Scrum is working (I let you imagine every ScrumBut...)". So I'm a nasty boy, so probably a bad Scrum Master.

And yesterday, I heard about a Scrum Master, agreeing with the Dev Team to bypass the Sprint Retro, because "you know, we are late in the project, we need to spare every hour..." and everybody agree with him (so he is probably a good Scrum Master)

I cannot stand this kind of things happening. maybe Retro is the most important event after a sprint at least as far as Change process is concerned. In my org, SM is only running this for 30 mins and handout one sticky note per each person and very briefly discuss. Not even running it good enough but the most concerning part is that there is no action item and even worse, when there is action item, SM does not make sure it's followed or does not even check. it's just another meeting with meeting note written and forget about it. sometimes there just cancel it like this because they don't have "time". or often SM just asks to send it over via email or chat and get them in the meeting note. is this what SM really does? I mean if nothing can be measured or (not easy to measure as most of you said) and if there is no clear responsibility (i mean let's face it. when there is something broke, everyone gets shit but SM can just say "I told you to work together") and no circumstances, what is this role? who are they?

please don't get me wrong. I understand the importance of SM and i've seen it good ones and how they be a huge value to any org. but if someone with certi claims that he or she is SM and talk and do all these nonsense, what do you do?

08:40 am October 30, 2018

How about a never-ending drive for improvement. Team, organisation and self. Hard to put a number on it, but one of things that matter most.

Here, a couple of Blog Posts pertinent to this discussion:

https://www.scrum.org/resources/blog/sheep-dog-lap-dog

https://www.scrum.org/resources/blog/evolution-scrum-master

10:56 pm November 12, 2018

@Robert Shandley- thank you for those two blog posts.  I have been struggling with finding how I can better grow and show value as SM for our organization.

I think the measurement of performance can only be determined when goals and outcomes are established and reviewed by whomever is determining the level of performance by the SM.  So much of what we do as SM cannot be looked at from raw data - unless what the organization is looking to achieve from the SM is ok to be gamed.