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What if coaching guiding does not bring discipline

Last post 09:25 pm January 10, 2020 by Timothy Baffa
9 replies
11:53 am January 9, 2020

Should scrum master be held responsible for team discipline ?  :


a) Team members coming late to workplace (not once in a while but often)

b) Not completing work (because of casual attitude)


For few people coaching guiding does not help much as per my experience. In such case, if the team is not having manager (as there is no manager role in scrum), what are the options with scrum master ?

12:35 pm January 9, 2020

A self-organizing team ought to be responsible for its own discipline.

In the situation you describe, what is the Scrum Master doing to evidence a lack of discipline and its consequences? What transparency is being put over this matter? Once the problem is evidenced, who then cares about it?

03:10 pm January 9, 2020

I agree with Ian, the team should discuss this as a self-organizing team. 

In such case, if the team is not having manager (as there is no manager role in scrum), what are the options with scrum master ?

Sure about this? While there is no manager role on the Scrum Team, the Scrum Guide does not say there is no manager or leadership role for organizations using Scrum; I've yet to come across a company where there is no managers in place over developers, scrum masters, and product owners. So what should the SM do? First, work with the team and encourage them to self-organize and discuss the problem of consistently and constantly showing up late and not completing work. If the team cannot come up with a good plan to course correct, involve management. Make them aware of the issues you're witnessing and see how they would be able to support you. Keep in mind, you're not involving managers and leaders to come in and fix the issue, you're involving them for transparency and so you and the team have their support in improving their efficiencies. 

06:40 pm January 9, 2020

I literally just had this come up. I'm a new SM with a new dev team (6 months). We have created great functional software, have had great Retro's, team building events and accolades. 

In our last Retro, the team brought up a team member who is not as punctual as needed. I actually didn't know it effected them so much. 

I didn't want the team to address the team member directly so I decided to hold a one-on-one with him. It was well-received. 

I suggest you do the same. Give them a chance to fix the problem. If it persists, set them down with the team. If that doesn't work THEN bring in a manager. 

Team dynamics is a SM duty. You are there to light a fire and extinguish flames. Have the talk and only escalate if the problem persists. 

09:37 pm January 9, 2020

I didn't want the team to address the team member directly so I decided to hold a one-on-one with him. It was well-received. 

I strongly caution against this approach, and I would most likely have handled it differently.

It's dangerous for a Scrum Master to insert themselves as a spokesperson in a team dispute. It risks eroding trust, and puts excuses and barriers in the way of open dialogue. It filters the message, because the Scrum Master has to perceive the situation, and then relay it second hand. It denies the team a fundamental growth opportunity. It has the potential to reward a tendency of complaining, over resolving.

I would tend towards the team members with such concerns to talk to this person, and if necessary, I would focus efforts on coaching the team in transparent, respectful and courageous ways of raising the matter.

For instance, lets assume everyone on the team means well. Surely the team members who are becoming frustrated would prefer to give their colleague a chance to deal with the issue before it grows into something much bigger that threatens this individual's future in the team/organization. When team members realize that the only caring action is to speak up, they should be more inclined to do so.

I presume the individual wasn't in that retrospective for some reason, so I would expect the team to decide whether they want to have the conversation all together, or have one or some individuals raise it privately.

If necessary, I would be prepared to sit with the team or individuals whilst they have a difficult conversation, but I wouldn't lead it.

02:05 am January 10, 2020

Here is my pragmatic answer.

There may be no role called "manager" in a Scrum Team but a business has to run and make a profit. Scrum does not mean that staff can do whatever they want, including not working or breaking other place-of-employment rules. If it's a significant performance issue, like the one you're mentioning, the Scrum Master or Product Owner should bring the matter to the attention of the team member's line manager.

03:51 am January 10, 2020

No impediments being raised during stand-up? Are there are any inputs during retrospective in this scenario? 

I am assuming that coming in late (always) in the example above has a direct impact of not completing committed items in the sprint.

What does "Casual Attitude" means?

01:56 pm January 10, 2020

A healthy and mature Scrum Team should look to address this themselves by respectful and direct communication. Those who are affected by the team member's tardiness should look to raise this with the team member in question.

That being said, this requires communication skills and a sense of trust which might not be present everywhere. If this is the case, I would look to the Scrum Master to facilitate such a discussion and to use it as a teaching moment to convey the required communication skills.

Personally, I'm not a fan of involving team-external management over matters such as these. At least not before the direct approach has been exhausted.

02:46 pm January 10, 2020

I disagree Simon. As a team, we're really close. Also, the team dev member I approach has a great temperament and we have a nice rapport. 

Another dynamic is I was a recruiter for almost a decade before getting an entry-level SM position with a team full of entry-level developers. I have career advice that could help younger professionals create strong habits now. Also, if it persisted he could get fired and I wanted to give him a heads up before sending him to the manager. 

I understand the caution to have a "one-on-one" but I used "Kid gloves" (pun intended). I would never berate or act as a "manager". I was helping coach him to see the benefits of showing up on-time and create strong career-oriented punctuality habits. Like a good SM should. 

Good topic of conversation. Cheers!

09:25 pm January 10, 2020

I didn't want the team to address the team member directly so I decided to hold a one-on-one with him. 

Just curious Jon how you reconciled the above statement with your most recent reply where you firmly stated you would never act as a "manager"?



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