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Conflict management as a Scrum Master

Last post 01:19 pm September 18, 2023 by Jacek Markiewicz
4 replies
03:35 pm September 15, 2023

Hello all,


What "should" be the role of a Scrum Master when a conflict arises in a team?


If he would have to handle it in some way, which ways/techniques would you recommend?


Thank you very much in advance!

04:01 pm September 15, 2023

What is the nature of the conflict?

Depending on the nature of the conflict, the Scrum Master may not be in the best position to handle it, so the role of the Scrum Master would be to remove barriers and impediments by getting the right people involved - managers, organizational leadership, HR, legal, and so on. However, if comfortable and appropriate, the Scrum Master may be able to facilitate discussions to help the people work through the team.

04:09 pm September 15, 2023

In my opinion, the Scrum Master as defined in the Scrum Guide has no role in a situation like this.  UNLESS, it is causing an impediment for the team.  In that case, the Scrum Master would help to facilitate the removal of the impediment.  Notice I didn't say that the Scrum Master would remote it.  They facilitate.  So what does that mean?

Most dictionaries define facilitate similar to "to make easy; to help bring about".  So, as someone fulfilling the responsibilities of the Scrum Master as defined in the Scrum Guide you can help to bring about a solution without actually getting involved.  I'm going to assume that like all organizations, there is an Engineering Manager involved.  That job description usually includes statements that are directed towards personnel management. It would be prudent to involve said individual and make them aware of the situation if they are not already.  If your job description includes statements that say you have this type of responsibility, then you would approach it just like any other "manager" would.  If you are not comfortable getting involved, I suggest you reach out to your People/Human Resources/<insert other politically correct department titles> and ask for guidance from them.  Or reach out to someone that has had experience in dealing with these situations for help. 

04:22 pm September 15, 2023

What "should" be the role of a Scrum Master when a conflict arises in a team?

Encourage the team to harness it. Without conflict there's unlikely  to be much creativity. We want productive dissent.

01:19 pm September 18, 2023

In addition, to what was said before, the Scrum Master is there to actively observe team dynamics. Both significant conflicts as well as lack of any conflicts are not optimal.  The Scrum Master needs to work actively and in advance. For example, it is better to mention early when the team is forming that conflicts are a natural part when cooperating in a truly transparent manner. It is also better to talk about the Scrum Values in advance. 


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