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A specialized role in Agile Scrum is the role of the Scrum Master. His primary responsibility is facilitating Scrum ceremonies and training the Scrum team to use them optimally.
In this article, we will dive into the role of the Scrum Master –her duties, characteristics, and how you can become one.
What Is A Scrum Master?
A formal Scrum Master job description from Glass Door is as follows:
“A Scrum Master helps oversee the Scrum and development team. They are knowledgeable in Agile methodology and Scrum and are able to educate others. They also act as a buffer between the Scrum team and Product Owner and maintain a safe working environment for the team by helping with conflict resolution.”
A Scrum Master is a highly specialized role within the Scrum framework, helping teams use Scrum effectively. They are the guardians of the Scrum process, coaches, and facilitators and are essential for successful Scrum teams.
The Scrum Master is responsible for ensuring that the Scrum process is followed and removing any impediments to the team's progress. They also help the team remain focused on the goal, provide guidance and support, and enable team collaboration.
Duties Of A Scrum Master
While some mistake the Scrum Master role for being a project manager, it’s important to note that a Scrum development team is self-organized. This means they don’t need anyone else to update trackers and call shots for solutions.
So what does a Scrum Master do?
A Scrum Master’s role and responsibility include being a facilitator, a coach, and a servant leader, to help the Scrum teamwork at its best.
Sometimes, collaboration isn’t automatic. An agile Scrum Master helps ensure that members within a team or across teams are coordinating to maximize productivity and avoid waste through redundancies.
They can do this in various ways, such as holding regular team meetings to discuss progress and brainstorm ideas, encouraging team members to share their thoughts, and providing feedback on the work. Additionally, a Scrum Master can help ensure that all team members are on the same page and clearly understand the project’s goals and objectives.
Aid Conflict Resolution
A Scrum Master can be instrumental in helping the team come to a resolution. They can provide guidance and direction to the team and help the team stay focused on the task at hand.
They can also provide tools and techniques to the team to help them to identify and resolve the conflict. Additionally, they can provide support and coaching to the team to enable them to work through the conflict and find the best possible solution.
A Scrum Master is a team leader who deeply understands the process of Scrum and the principles of Agile. They are responsible for managing impediments so the team can focus on progressing with their work.
To do this, a Scrum Master must comprehensively understand the team's needs, goals, and the processes they must follow to reach their objectives. It is also important that they can identify potential sources of problems and know how to address them effectively.
Protecting the team’s focus can also involve negotiating with external stakeholders regarding new requests, clarifying priorities with the Product Owner, etc. Providing the team with the tools, resources, and guidance necessary to reach their objectives would also be an important part of the job. They should be able to provide the team with feedback and guidance on how to improve their performance and ensure that they remain productive.
Scrum Masters are responsible for coaching and training the team on the Scrum processes and facilitating Scrum meetings to help them stay on track with their sprints. They are also responsible for ensuring that the team is aware of the objectives and goals the Product Owner sets and that any changes to the process are managed appropriately.
Through reviews and retrospectives, Scrum Masters help the team identify areas they may need to improve and provide guidance and advice on how to do so.
Focused on implementing the Scrum methodology and coaching the team to maximize its benefits, a Scrum Master supports the development team to self-manage better.
The Scrum Master is responsible for facilitating all Scrum meetings and events. This includes daily stand-up meetings, sprint planning meetings, sprint review meetings, and sprint retrospective meetings.
Ensuring that all voices are heard and that the team is discussing relevant topics and making progress, the agile Scrum Master helps keep everyone on task, working towards the same goals. They can also help resolve conflicts between team members and ensure that everyone works together in harmony.
The Scrum Master is a key figure in the team, providing moral support and helping to ensure the project runs smoothly and efficiently. They encourage collaboration and communication within the team and help to create a positive working environment.
The Scrum Master is vital for the project's success, as they are responsible for ensuring the team is working together effectively and efficiently and meeting the project goals. They help the team stay motivated and focused on the project goals. They also provide guidance and support to the team, helping to resolve conflicts and encouraging collaboration.
Acting as an advocate for the team, a Scrum Master provides a safe environment for members to express their opinions and ideas.
What Are The Characteristics Of An Effective Scrum Master?
While it can be relatively easy to become a Scrum Master, being a good one is a massive feat. It takes skill, proficiency, self-awareness, and mental and emotional discipline.
Proficient In Scrum
As the key person to coach the team on how to implement Scrum, the agile Scrum Master must have a thorough understanding of the project management methodology to advise on the best ways to implement it according to the context of the project.
A Scrum Master must understand the principles of Scrum and how it works within the organization. They must be well-versed in the Scrum artifacts, roles, and events. They must apply the framework to enable the team to work with agility. The Scrum Master must deeply understand the Scrum values and principles to ensure that the team operates in a way that aligns with the Scrum framework.
Furthermore, the Scrum Master must communicate the Scrum framework effectively to the team. They must be able to explain the roles, artifacts, and events in an easily understandable way. They must also be able to provide guidance and advice on the Scrum process and ensure that all team members are aware of their responsibilities.
The role of a Scrum Master is to facilitate the teams to create high-value products in an Agile environment. To be effective in this role, you must be consistent in your approach and maintain a level head. You should be able to remain calm under pressure, quickly assess the situation, and provide accurate guidance to the team.
In helping resolve conflict, emotions can get high. A Scrum Master needs to stay calm to avoid aggravating the situation. It is important to be unbiased and fair. You must be able to listen to both sides of the argument and find a beneficial resolution. To do this, you need to be level-headed and not get swayed by emotions. You should remain impartial and offer solutions based on reason and logic.
Additionally, as a Scrum Master, you need to be able to coach the team and help them become the best version of themselves. You need to be able to provide constructive feedback that is both honest and encouraging. You should remain impartial and make decisions based on what is best for the team, not your personal preferences. It is also important to stay focused on the tasks at hand and not get distracted by your own emotions and the team members' emotions.
Clarity Of Thought
Although the Scrum Master doesn’t make final decisions, he needs clarity of thought to facilitate meetings and conversations to guide the team toward making the best decisions. It is important to be able to understand the needs and objectives of the team and to be able to devise the best way to achieve them. Keeping the team focused and motivated throughout the project is also important.
As the Scrum Master, you should be able to explain the project and the tasks involved in a way that is easy for the team to understand. You should be able to identify any potential risks or problems that could occur during the project and devise ways to mitigate them.
The Scrum Master will also work to remove any impediments blocking progress, such as conflicting priorities, lack of resources, or any other roadblocks. They will help to identify the root cause of such issues and help to resolve them, either through negotiation or by finding alternative solutions. All these would require that the Scrum Master is not easily overwhelmed by all the goings-on of a project and could filter the crucial details from trivial ones.
To protect the team's focus, a Scrum Master may have to negotiate with several parties to provide the team with what they need.
Being a successful Scrum Master requires more than just technical ability. It requires the skills to manage and negotiate with internal and external stakeholders effectively. As a Scrum Master, it is important to negotiate and communicate with stakeholders, as this will help ensure successful outcomes.
Negotiation is a critical skill for a Scrum Master to have. The Scrum Master needs to balance the stakeholders' needs and interests while also considering the team's needs. This can often be a difficult task and requires strong negotiation skills. By negotiating with stakeholders, the Scrum Master can ensure that everyone is happy with the outcome and that the project is successful.
The Scrum Master needs to be able to communicate effectively with both internal and external stakeholders. This includes listening to their insights and explaining the project in a way that all stakeholders can understand. Additionally, the Scrum Master needs to be able to explain the Scrum process and why certain decisions are being made. This requires strong communication skills and the ability to explain complex concepts simply.
Another important negotiation skill that a Scrum Master needs is the ability to influence stakeholders. As a Scrum Master, it is important to be able to influence stakeholders to move the project forward. This requires being able to explain the benefits of certain decisions and being able to persuade them to accept the proposed solution.
Negotiating and communicating with stakeholders is essential for a successful Scrum Master. Having strong negotiation skills will help the Scrum Master to effectively manage stakeholder expectations and ensure a successful outcome for the project. A skilled Scrum Master can help to ensure that all stakeholders are satisfied with the outcome and that the project is successful.
Being an effective Scrum Master requires more than a technical understanding of the process. It requires a deep knowledge of team dynamics and a genuine empathy for the people you work with. Scrum Masters must build strong relationships and trust with their team members to truly bring out the best in them.
Empathy is a key factor in successful Scrum Mastering. A Scrum Master needs to empathize with people to support them effectively. Being sensitive to their needs will allow a Scrum Master to anticipate and continuously address them.
As a Scrum Master, you need to recognize your team member's strengths and weaknesses and use those insights to help them work better together. You need to be able to relate to their concerns and provide a supportive environment for them to express their ideas.
A Scrum Master needs to be able to put themselves in their team members' shoes and understand how they are feeling and why. This will allow them to understand better how to motivate and support their team and help them succeed.
Patient & Adaptable
Working with people isn’t linear. To be an effective Scrum Master, you need to be able to accept the shortcomings of others and work on a compromise if needed. To be an effective Scrum Master, it is essential to be patient and adaptable.
The Scrum Master is responsible for guiding the team to success, which can often be difficult if there are disagreements or conflicts. A successful Scrum Master must be able to listen to different viewpoints and be open to other solutions. It is important that the Scrum Master is patient with the team and offers guidance and support to help them reach a consensus.
Being able to adjust plans and processes when necessary is also important. For example, if there is a problem with a task or goal, the Scrum Master must be able to come up with a different approach to solve the problem. They must also be able to adjust the plan or process if necessary. This requires the Scrum Master to understand the team dynamics well so they can be flexible and creative in their approach.
Being an effective Scrum Master is a challenging yet rewarding role. It requires patience and the ability to be adaptable to succeed.
Organization is a key skill for a Scrum Master to possess to be effective in helping their team. By organizing the team’s tasks and goals effectively and efficiently, the Scrum Master can ensure that everyone is working on the right things and that progress is being made.
Track tasks and progress with Workamajig, the only project management tool built for creative teams.
The Scrum Master should document the tasks that have been completed and keep track of what needs to be done to keep the team on track. Proficiency in project management tools such as Workamajig would be a big plus for this position.
It is also important for the Scrum Master to stay organized regarding meetings. They should make sure that appointments are scheduled on time, that the agenda is clear, and that all team members know when and where to meet.
As a good coach, you need to be able to motivate people. The Scrum Master needs to create a positive and productive environment for the team. This requires great communication and leadership skills.
The Scrum Master must also be able to recognize the individual strengths of their team members and use them to their advantage. By understanding each team member's unique skills and abilities, the Scrum Master can create an environment where everyone can contribute and work together as a cohesive unit. Additionally, the Scrum Master should be able to provide constructive feedback that helps the team to grow and improve. This will help to motivate further and encourage the team.
How Do You Become A Scrum Master?
The steps on how to become a Scrum Master can be an exciting and rewarding career path. Aspiring Scrum Masters will need a bachelor's degree in a related field to qualify for the role. A degree in Business Administration, Information Technology, or Computer Science is ideal for a role like this. However, a degree in any field can be beneficial in the long run.
Glass Door shares the following Scrum Master interview questions you may be asked when you apply for the post:
- What do the three pillars of Scrum mean to you?
- Are there any situations in which you would substitute another theory for Scrum?
- How would you effectively communicate with other members of the Scrum team?
Having a certification is also beneficial for a professional Scrum Master. This can help you stand out from the competition, as certificates show that you have a certain level of expertise in the domain. The Scrum Alliance is a popular certification body.
When it comes to the Scrum Master salary, it can vary depending on the experience and certifications of the candidate. Entry-level Scrum Master jobs can pay around $73,000 per annum, and more experienced professionals can earn up to $189,000 per annum. A certified Scrum Master's salary can be even more.
How Do You Get A Scrum Master Certification?
Scrum Alliance provides two Scrum Master courses: the Certified Scrum Master® course and the Advanced Certified Scrum Master® course. When you apply, you will be taught by experienced trainers to help you increase your mastery of the Scrum Methodology.
Source: Scrum Alliance
Earning certification helps solidify your expertise and provide proof of your competence in your employment as a Scrum Master. To get certified, simply find the course you want to take for your Scrum Master training, attend the classes, and pass your test.
The CSM test is composed of 50 questions that you will need to answer in 60 minutes. The passing score is 37/50, or 74%.
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to get a certification if you want an agile Scrum Master certification for free. Courses and tests have fees, but with the career advancement and opportunities they provide, they can very well be worth the investment.
A Scrum Master role is an invaluable asset to any team using the Agile Scrum methodology. They are the leaders responsible for ensuring the team can maximize the potential of the Agile Scrum methodology. They do this through coaching, facilitating, and servant leadership.
Getting a certified Scrum Master certification is not a requirement to become a Scrum Master for most employers. However, it can give you a good advantage over other applicants.
It takes a lot of hard and soft skills to become an effective Scrum Master. It also takes mental and emotional discipline. It can be a great and rewarding career path in multiple industries and locations worldwide.