Jennifer Fix / Development Noodles & Doodles / February 6th, 2014

Scrum Master Communication 101 – 352 Noodles & Doodles

Effective communication is key to the success of any scrum master, and it can be difficult to learn the best way to talk to your team. Former project managers will have to learn to take a backseat and help the team accomplish their goals, and new scrum masters will need to learn to get invested in their team’s work. We’ve talked before about how to manage the transition From Project Manager to Scrum Master, and this week’s episode of Noodles & Doodles, Jennifer Fix breaks down how you can best support your teams through effective communication.

Transcript below.

[Jennifer Fix]: Hi, my name’s Jennifer Fix, and I’m a Scrum Master for 352. Today I’m going to be talking about communication tips for scrum masters.Number one is think ahead. As a scrum master, you’re probably already very familiar with the importance of being organized, being diligent, being on top of things. So this is really just a reminder to keep doing what you’re doing.
 
It’s so important for your team that you’re thinking two steps ahead, that you’re always thinking about potential obstacles that could come their way, that you’re considering issues with software, and that you’re training the client ahead of time on how to use the software tools you’ll be using. That way, when you get to those next steps your team is ready to go and you’re able to have smooth sailing through your project.
 
Number two is to be a consistent positive force. I can’t express enough how important this is. Your team is going to rely on you to be their number one cheerleader, to stay positive, to stay upbeat. You have an incredible amount of power to do good or to do evil on your team. There’s even research that shows that people who study and who work in a positive environment perform better on the tasks at hand.
 
Number three is to remove roadblocks without becoming one. It’s really easy as the scrum master at times to feel like you’re not participating in the same way as your team because you’re not in there coding with them. You’re not necessarily testing like Q/A is. And there can be a tendency to want to say to the team, “What do you need, what do you need, what do you need.” Then, you become a roadblock, and you become more of an annoyance than a help to your team.
 
So try to find that balance between being available for your team to help but giving them the space that they need so that you don’t get in the way of what they’re trying to accomplish.
 
The fourth thing is to create a safe environment for your team. Your team should feel like at any point they can come to you, talk about the concerns that they have, share ideas without them being knocked down. If you create this environment for them they’re going to feel comfortable, and you’re going to create an environment where you have a loyal team that feels safe and feels happy in the environment they’re working in.
 
Number five is “We, not I.” So important. Traditional project managers, it’s all about you. You’re used to being in charge, calling the shots. In Agile, you’re all working together. It’s about creating a unified voice for the team. This also means that when you’re leading meetings, you need to strike that balance between facilitating a meeting and organizing it, but not dominating the conversations. It’s a challenge, but with a little bit of practice you can definitely do it.
 
Number six, jump in. It’s really important that you immerse yourself in the project. There’s a tendency for project managers to get a little scattered and busy as they’re working on various facets of the project, trying to organize the next steps. But try to be involved and as engaged as you possibly can in your project.This means understand the functionality that your developers are working on. Get an idea for the CSS that your coders are using. Understand what your team is doing. It’s not only going to help you be able to better participate, but it’s going to make the team feel like you care about the work that you’re doing, and you’re as invested as they are.
 
Another added benefit of that is that you get to learn something new.Lastly, keep the client’s goals in mind. This is important for any phase of the project that you’re in. You want to make sure that as you’re talking with your team, engaging with them on ideas that they have on ways to improve, on ways to make a process move faster, that you’re always keeping in mind what the client’s end goal is. It can be easy to get off track with the team focused on things that they think would be incredible, but if it doesn’t suit the client’s needs then you need to wipe it.I hope this has been helpful. I hope that you’re able to take these tools and use them to better communicate with your team and your client. Check back with us next time. Thank you.