First job as Scrum Master

Last post 07:36 pm May 1, 2020
by John Colletti
13 replies
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05:03 pm November 21, 2019

Hi everyone,

So I graduated school recently with an Infosystems degree. Decided I wanted to explore the world of Scrum and Agile. I took a bootcamp training course for Scrum Agile and got my PSM certification. Had an internship as an IT intern and learned office practices and some agile practices. Didn’t have much experience, but then soon after applied as a scrum master and got hired as a contractor for a company based in Virginia, USA. 

My first week as a scrum master has been quite rough because I came onboard this team in the middle of a project. For now they have me shadowing some more senior level scrum masters/ pm’s, but I feel so lost during our daily stand-ups and other team meetings. The current project utilizes Geo-Spatial tools like Oracle spatial studio. 
 

any tips for a younger person trying to become comfortable in their role? 

06:34 pm November 21, 2019

You're in somewhat of an advantageous position in some aspects. You can leverage your 'newness' to ask some innocent or naive questions around the 'why' to get team members thinking about current processes and patterns from a process standpoint. 

My other tip is to not try to change the world too soon. Do lots of listening and observing of the current landscape and the team or organizational patterns that may be preventing them from achieving the most value out of the Scrum Framework. Helping the team get small wins can allow you to build trust and respect as you develop your relationship with your team members. 

07:57 pm November 21, 2019

Thank you for the advice Tony! I had those ideas in mind as I am conforming to my role here. Hope to learn a lot and definitely will keep your suggestions in mind and observe the team over the next few weeks. 
 

Thanks

08:06 pm November 21, 2019

my advise is "learn to listen and listen to learn"..

 

evaluate what you think you understand by asking for confirm   and slowly begin  also ask why , when, how.. 

08:39 pm November 21, 2019

Congrats on your role and take a deep breath. Every team, product and company is different. What we all go through could be different than your situation. Take each hour and day as it comes. 

Here are some contradictory, Yogi Berra, Yoda-type phrases that you'll understand after a couple months on the job. 

  • Be patient but be confident. 
  • Be a leader but be a servant. 
  • Listen but don't be afraid to speak up. 

I have worked with Sr. Scrum Masters, Agile Coaches, Enterprise Software Devs and small shop do-it-all types. Every time I ask a pointed question looking for wisdom, I get a "It Depends." So take people's words as they are but react in your own way. 

In the end, the biggest thing about a Scrum Master is to create software that makes the client happy. Help your dev team, help your PO and stand on your own two feet.....Unless told otherwise. 

Cheers!

09:32 pm November 21, 2019

There's such great advice posted in this forum! I've been in my role as a Scrum Master for about a year and can say that listening has been super important for me in my role and also resisting the urge to "shake things up" before a team is ready. 

One additional piece of advice I'd like to offer: try to get an understanding from the current Scrum Masters as to how technical their position is. Personally, I come from a non-technical background and while it has made picking up on some of the lingo a bit difficult, I also feel that my non-technical perspective has been an advantage. As a servant leader you don't want to tell people what to do but instead understand what they're trying to do and help them find the best approach. Not having experience working on the product/application/project the team is currently working on can make team members feel more comfortable discussing their ideas with you. 

On the other hand, if you're expected to take a more technical role as a Scrum Master you should become clear on those expectations and learn how to balance the technical aspects of your role with the more social aspects of your role. I hope this helps! 

09:34 pm November 21, 2019

I found that to comprehend you must be patient, working with BA's and other involved. Remember, your job is not to build a product, but rather help the development team build a working increment at the end of each Sprint. By removing impediments and facilitating critical decisions. 

 

12:48 am November 22, 2019

Congratulations on getting that first Scrum Master role. It's a rewarding career and some of my experienced colleagues have had a difficult time getting that first job as a Scrum Master so you're in a good place. 

I have a lot of respect for Scrum Masters. Personally, I advise my clients on the value of many small Scrum Teams coached and facilitated by good Scrum Masters and to resist the temptation to scale. 

If your organization is truly motivated to follow Scrum, you have the responsibility of coaching people on Scrum and helping shepherd the organization as it pivots from waterfall to Scrum. If you are learning from former Project Managers who are now Scrum Masters, don't forget that you are not there to manage the team or dictate what they should or should not do. You are there to help train, mentor and coach them so they can be collaborative, effective and practice empiricism to create the best products for your clients. Development Teams members sometimes forget why they are building and for whom. Remind everybody that there is a customer for whom they are building and help your Product Owner recognize methods for Product Backlog management and refinement.

And whether your company sponsors you or you invest in yourself, take the PSM I and PSM II in-person training classes where you will learn a lot from the instructor and other students. In-person trainings and attending local and national Scrum and Agile events where you get to learn from practitioners will be invaluable to you. In this line of work, education never ends so always be a student. The moment you think you've become a teacher, you would have stopped learning.

03:41 pm November 22, 2019

All of the responses so far have provided a lot of the same advice I normally give.  I am not sure if it was intentional but they all subtly implied one thing I am going to specifically call out.

Do not focus on the technical aspects of the work the team is doing.  Focus on the way the team works together.  In my experience, knowing the basics of the technical details is usually enough.  Understand the lingo, understand the high level process needed to get the code into production.  But do not concern yourself with the intimate details.  Your job is to help the team be more productive, self-managing, self-directed. Your job is to help them respect each other and the Scrum framework.  Focus your efforts on getting comfortable with that job, then spend some time becoming more familiar with the technical. 

05:34 pm November 22, 2019

A ton of great advice already in this thread.   As a huge fan of analogies and quotes, I will offer you a quote that ties in well with some of the previous comments about the need to always be in learning mode:

“Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I'm going to learn, I must do it by listening.” - Larry King

Good luck to you Tahseen on your Agile journey.

11:48 am November 23, 2019

Keep a diary of your observations.

Scrum relies on opennness, so try to openly discuss things with your team, where it can be helpful.

But if you're unsure what to do, keep a detailed record of what you observed, how you felt, and how you did or didn't act.
This will help you learn, as you can come back to these problems later and consider what actually happened as a result, and whether you would still deal with them in the same way.

And of course, feel free to come back here and ask for help!

12:13 pm November 25, 2019

any tips for a younger person trying to become comfortable in their role?

Keep an eye out for ways in which people may have tried to change Scrum rather than change the organization and its culture. Start thinking about the level of intolerance you will have for organizational impediments.

04:55 am December 14, 2019

wow!! great input guys...

02:17 pm May 1, 2020

Yeah, thanks.