In my last article I talked about the differences between a scrum master and a project manager.
As in any profession, developing skills suited to your role and responsibility is a key success factor in your career. It is not different in project management.
If you are working as a project manager, maybe you are wondering: can I use the same skills to work as a scrum master?
I would say that developing hard skills (oriented towards techniques or business) is not so difficult, as it depends only on having a good teacher or a good tool.
BUT soft skills don’t work the same way. Soft Skills are related to your personality and professional behavior. It mainly involves mental, emotional and social skills.
This is what this article is about… what are the most must-have soft skills to be a good scrum master?
Here are 06 soft skills to become a great scrum master:
- Teaching and coaching skills
- Communication skills
- Facilitator skills
- Servant leadership
- Problem solving skills
TEACHING AND COACHING SKILLS
The main role of a scrum master is to coach and work with the team to adopt the scrum framework. This means that you will spend most of your day teaching and coaching the scrum team and all other stakeholders about the scrum framework.
Developing teaching and coaching skills means that you not only have advanced knowledge about what to do, but you also know how to explain what needs to be done and why it should be done.
You should differentiate teaching and coaching. Teaching is a one way interaction. You will teach something that someone don’t know yet.
Now, coaching is an iterative relationship between two actors. After you have taught something, you will follow the evolution and usage of this knowledge with this person. A good coach is a good teacher, but a good teacher is not necessarily a good coach.
The big difference is that a coach should spend more time observing, analysing and giving feedbacks to the others. Coaching is more personal, individual, specific. A coach is someone that will also work to encourage each team member to improve their skills and work together.
Regarding to a scrum team, the coaching skill goes beyond an individual relationship. The main characteristic of a scrum team is that it is self-organizing. For this, the Scrum Master must provide advice to all team members regarding the planning, monitoring and adoption of Scrum rules.
In any management or leadership role, communication skills are one of the main characteristics to separate the good from the mediocre professional.
Communication goes far beyond just talking. It’s mainly related to be a good listener, are you listening to me?
Being a good communicator also means choosing the best way to transmit your messages, identifying the target audience and, above all, you need to identify the information needed by your audience.
Being a great facilitator means making something easier and possible. It involves working to facilitate the scrum team’s cooperation in something like a meeting, a change or a decision-making.
Facilitation requires a great capacity to engage people in discussions and decision-making while maintaining neutrality so as not to influence these people. Here are some goals to be a great facilitator:
- Keep people engaged: Make sure that everyone interested in a topic or discussion has the same opportunity to participate and share their opinions.
- Keep people focused: How many times have you attended a meeting where people keep counting how many angels can dance on the head of a pin? One of the biggest challenges for a Scrum Master is to keep the team focused during daily meetings and time-boxed events. Always try to keep your team’s goals and time control clear during an event so that the team stays focused.
- Stay neutral: for me personally, this is one of the most difficult characteristics to be a good facilitator. I often see teams going in a direction that I knew was wrong (even if I insisted on alerting everyone by sharing my experience), but I had no choice but to accept and “try” to not influence their decisions.
If you are working as a scrum master, you may have heard the expression ‘be a servant leader’. But, after all, what is a ‘servant leader’?
Unlike the traditional model, in which the project manager has a ‘functional’ authority over the project team, in the agile model, the scrum master has more of a servant leader role. Here, the scrum master does not have the responsibility to assign tasks to the team, but to allow the team to perform all activities efficiently.
Servant leadership means helping your team to use their best skills and knowledge. A servant leader shares power and serves the team by helping them function with high quality and efficiency.
PROBLEM SOLVING SKILLS
As a Scrum Master, your responsibility is to develop camaraderie and increase collaboration while keeping motivation and happiness
What is one of the main roles of the scrum master? Remove team impediments.
And how do you remove impediments? Solving problems.
And what kind of problems should the scrum master solve? Anything that has an impact on the execution of the team’s work. It can be a simple problem like putting a whiteboard with a sprint Kanban board or a more complex problem like a conflict between team members or stakeholders
Remember that I said earlier that the scrum master has to keep the team focused using his skill as a facilitator? So, keeping the team focused also means that they are not dealing with the problems in the project … something that the scrum master will solve.
What is empathy? As per the Cambridge dictionary, empathy is the ability to share someone else’s feelings or experiences by imagining what it would be like to be in that person’s situation
In another words, empathy means that you are able to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. It means that you are able to understand the other person’s position and feelings. Empathy is the first step in becoming a great leader.
Developing empathy involves developing a depth relationship with each member of your project team. This means that you will keep a dialogue and get to know each member of the team in depth, their stories, their skills, their difficulties, their objectives, etc.
Empathy is the result of a combination of other skills such as communication, servant leadership, problem solving, facilitation, training and coaching.
Do you think there are other skills you need to develop in order to be a good scrum master? Leave your comment and experience.
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