Five Skills You Need to Be a Successful Scrum Master
A scrum master is a servant leader within the scrum framework. They must be comfortable facilitating meetings, contacting shareholders, and maintaining a healthy scrum team. Servant leadership doesn’t mean that scrum masters aren’t expected to discipline, discuss, and direct their team, it simply means that the relationship between the scrum master and their team is one of mutual trust and respect as opposed to manager and employee. Leadership is a skill that comes naturally to some people but must be instilled in others. For scrum masters, this is the most important skill to possess. The ability to express yourself in a meeting or guide a team in a project can determine the success of a scrum master’s career.
- Technical Expertise
Familiarity with the technical aspects of Agile, the scrum framework, and software development are necessary skills to become a scrum master. One of the scrum master’s most important responsibilities is to advocate for their scrum team to the product owner. Another situation where technical expertise is necessary is during task distribution. To assign tasks correctly, the scrum master needs to have a general knowledge of those tasks. Without familiarity with the technical aspects of software development, they can’t represent their team well. While scrum masters certainly don’t need to be experts in software development, they should be proficient in the processes and tools which their team members use.
The scrum framework is built on the belief that software development should not be one long rigid process. Shared responsibilities and organized project management make the scrum framework accessible for all teams, but it relies on the fact that all of the members are willing to address problems head-on. Adapting to ever-changing situations and making on-the-spot decisions are part of a scrum master’s responsibilities. Knowing how to address problems as they arise and suggest solutions that can be easily implemented are just a few ways in which a scrum master can be adaptable.
- Conflict Resolution
Creating a work environment that is comfortable with all members of the scrum team is one soft skill that is necessary for the success of the team. If the scrum master can’t encourage positive interactions and maintain a professional yet personal workspace, then the scrum team can’t operate. Even healthy scrum teams will face challenges and disputes, but the role of a scrum master includes learning about the problem, understanding the conflict, and mediating a mutually beneficial solution. If conflicts are left to fester, trust is broken down and in a value-based framework such as scrum, all development will end.
It should not be surprising that scrum masters need to be empathetic to be effective. Listening to the problems which scrum team members are facing or understanding the needs of a product owner, requires that a scrum master builds a relationship with every person. If the members of the scrum team feel that their experiences are not cared about or that their opinions are unheard, the morale of the team will plummet. While technical knowledge may get you a job as a scrum master, emotional knowledge will ensure that you keep the job.