Employee Engagement and Professional Scrum - Part 2 of 5
In Part 1 of this series, I wrote a bit about Employee Engagement. Part 1 was all about measuring and understanding the current state of engagement in your organization. We also covered the importance of having an engaged staff - because it often leads to higher performing teams and ultimately, better business outcomes.
In this and the next few posts, we’ll break down Gallup’s 12 questions, and how applying Professional Scrum might be just what is needed to help move the needle towards higher engagement.
Question 1: I know what is expected of me at work.
Professional Scrum teams rely on a mix of Accountabilities, Events and Artifacts to ensure that everyone on the Scrum Team is clear on what’s expected of them. At a high level, Scrum defines 3 accountabilities:
Together, the Scrum Master, Product Owner and Developers are accountable for creating a valuable, useful Increment every Sprint. Broadly speaking, these three accountabilities give guidance around what everyone is responsible for. However, the Events and Artifacts in Scrum are what really drive clarity around “What is expected of me at work”.
It starts with Sprint Planning - by the end of this event, the entire team is clear on the Why, What and How of the sprint. A clear Sprint Goal gives us the “why”. The Developers select Product Backlog Items in support of the goal, giving them the “what.” Finally they come up with a plan - giving them the “How”. Add into this a robust Definition of Done, and it’s easy to see how Professional Scrum Teams might respond positively to the “I know what is expected of me at work” question.
Question 2: I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right.
Not having what you need in order to do your work is an obvious example of an impediment to your team’s ability to make progress. Scrum gives us two very specific events during which these kinds of issues ought to come up:
- The Daily Scrum, where we talk about our progress every day, and
- The Sprint Retrospective where we have more in depth conversations about what we need to do in order to improve and make future sprints better.
In addition, the Scrum Master accountability has a very clear role to play here - part of their role is to cause the removal of impediments to the team’s progress. And if anyone on the team doesn’t have what they need to do their work, a Professional Scrum Master will step in and make sure they get what they need.
Question 3: At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.
This one is a little more subtle. However there are some ways in which Scrum, done with professionalism, can bring this issue to the surface.
In my experience, teams who score lower on this question tend to find themselves working on things that they find mundane or boring. In fact, I’ve seen many teams call this out at their Sprint Retrospectives. When this happens, I encourage teams not to gloss over the issue. It’s really easy to throw your hands up - “Oh well, this is what needs to be done, so too bad!" This is a missed opportunity.
Spending some time during a Sprint Retrospective to explore this topic can often lead to some real concrete action items that can lead teams towards “doing what they do best” every day. For example, a team can challenge themselves to automate more of the ‘mundane’ work that is in their Product Backlog. They may decide to spend some time on innovation, finding ways to complete the work in a way that is different from the status quo. In some cases I’ve seen teams totally shift their own perception of exactly what it is they are doing (and why)! These conversations 100% fair game for a Sprint Retrospective. And great Scrum Masters have a knack for getting the conversation started.
Sometimes teams just needed a reminder that they aren’t just ‘writing code’ or ‘fixing bugs’ - they are actually solving a real problem for a real person, be it a customer or some other internal stakeholder within the company.
So that's questions 1 - 3 of the Gallup Q12 survey. Hopefully by now you are starting to see the connection between Professional Scrum, and employee engagement! Next time, we will take a look at the next three questions from the survey:
- In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.
- My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.
- There is someone at work who encourages my development.
If you are interested in improving engagement on your own team or at your own company, feel free to comment or reach out!