Professional Scrum Competency: Developing People and Teams
Traditional management models consider the work of people and team development to be the job of the team’s manager. Scrum puts specific responsibility on Scrum Masters to support and guide Scrum Team members (as well as other members of the organization). However, team development is not only the responsibility of the Scrum Master. Since Scrum Teams are self-managing, all team members are responsible for helping the team continually improve through techniques that “develop people and teams.”
This competency has six key focus areas, the last four of which are usually discussed together since they embody specific skills that are used in continuous self and team improvement:
- Self-Managing Teams
- Leadership Styles
Key Focus Areas
The Focus Areas provide a more detailed view of the knowledge and skills required to master the competency of Developing People and Teams.
A fundamental element to Scrum; cross-functional, self-managing and empowered teams are the engine to delivering value. Practitioners need to understand what self-management is and how to apply it to their context. They should also understand how to incrementally introduce self-management, the practices that can help it thrive, and the measures that help one determine if a team is able to be empowered to self-manage.
There are many different leadership styles ranging from traditional “command and control” to more collaborative approaches. Understanding the right style to use at a given time and how different styles can influence - in a positive or negative way - the agile agenda of empiricism, empowerment, and improvement is a key Focus Area. Practitioners should understand the concepts of leadership styles and be able to apply a particular style when the situation calls for it. They should also be able to demonstrate their ability to decide on the right style and understand its impact on the organization.
Skills for Developing People & Teams
Each Scrum Team member brings a unique set of skills, knowledge and experiences to the team. The team, and the individuals in it, are made stronger when these points of view are brought together and spread throughout the team. Facilitation, coaching, mentoring and teaching, are all techniques for making this possible and they are key focus areas in the competency of Developing People and Teams.
- a Product Owner may facilitate a session with stakeholders to help unlock product innovations
- a stakeholder may coach a Developer to help them understand their career aspirations and how to achieve them
- a Scrum Master may teach Developers about the Scrum Framework
- a highly experienced Product Owner may mentor a less experienced Product Owner in the impact of ineffective stakeholder management.
By introducing themselves to these skills, learning the differences among them and developing proficiency with a few of their competencies and tools, Scrum Team members can help advance the way the team works together, as well as helping individual colleagues improve their ability to contribute to the team’s success.
It’s easy to agree that we should make decisions, share ideas and work together to find new solutions. In reality, these are hard to do. Facilitation is a set of practices that help support the collaboration, communication, and creativity of teams and individuals. The practitioner should understand the value of facilitation, and have a collection of techniques they can apply. They should also have experience applying them in different situations.
The facilitator creates a safe environment for the team to flourish. They hold an impartial stance and do not take a position on the subject matter. Their job is to be a process expert, enabling those they are facilitating to achieve their goals.
The ability to unlock new ways of thinking is important for any agile practitioner who aims to enable sustaining change and transformation within teams and organizations. Coaching is a non-directive way of meeting a person where they are, helping them connect with their existing talent and wisdom and leading them to find within themselves what it takes to try new things. Agile practitioners should understand the range of skills and capabilities needed to create value when coaching and be able to discern when a coaching stance is the best way to support people and teams.
The coach unlocks a thought-provoking process that helps individuals and groups draw on their own experiences to reach their objectives. The coach holds an impartial stance and does not take a position on the subject matter. Their job is to be a process expert, enabling those they are coaching to achieve their goals.
The ability to inspire others to learn and share information in an effective, repeatable, and efficient manner is a key aspect to any agile practitioners' skills. The practitioner should understand the value of teaching and appreciate the means of measuring the success of their teaching. They should understand different learning approaches and understand when to apply different techniques in different contexts.
The teacher shares knowledge, provides information and helps learners develop new skills. A teacher does not remain neutral, they provide their expertise and advice to the learner.
There are many ways to support people in their personal and professional growth. Mentoring is particularly useful because it brings forward personal stories and experiences specifically to help another person uncover their own way to accomplish something. Mentors share their experience with a given topic or technique, answer questions and find ways to guide someone who is less experienced. The practitioner should understand the value of mentoring and how it is different from other approaches for supporting people in their development.
The mentor shares their expertise, skills and knowledge with the person being mentored, through developmental conversations, sharing of experiences and by being a role model.