Coaching advice for Scrum Masters (Part 3): You may be Coaching and not knowing it.

As a Scrum Master with a lot of experience and people’s skills, you are the living example of what the Scrum Team needs to follow, and the guardian of Agile concepts and the enabler of people to help them raise their Agile maturity levels by guiding them through the best practices, on a daily basis.

The following are the key steps that you will take as a Coach to get the Scrum Team to come up with their own understanding of their problems and their own solution of the problems:

  1. You get them to Trust you with their issues and your unbiased stance (pretty much based on everything we mentioned before to set yourself as an example.)
  2. You need to ask carefully crafted questions to help you read through their responses (and their body language) and identify what is the real problem they need to address. (Make sure you do a very good active listening to get them engaged and excited to share the detail with you as they key here is to “Ask” them and not to “Instruct” them.)
  3. You now gauge the impact of the real problem to them (in the sense of business impact, team impact or personal impact) and through that you will find out the value of resolving it.
  4. You need to break through their “B.S.” that has been scaring them off the solution path and not letting them leave their comfort zone in order to fix a real problem (as their “B.S” – aka excuses – are quite contagious, be careful not to sympathize with them … instead get them to see through it and make a move to resolve the real problem.)
  5. You must to mobilize them to collaborate with you in identifying the variety of workable (viable) solutions and get ready to commit to experimenting on their effectiveness. (Get them to come up with their own answers! Do not answer it for them!)
  6. You now need to get them to sequence all suggested solutions, one after another, and through the “what else can we do next” filter several times until you can be confident they have exhausted all the options they could think of as a solution to try.
  7. You get them to actually turn all of the identified options of the previous step into actionable tasks (get them to detail how they are going to do it and what they need to make it happen and who can help them do it and any other support element they may benefit from.)
  8. You need to establish the system to track their progress (or at least when it is done or failed) and whether they need a follow up review of the solution’s effectiveness (and to celebrate their victories!)

Remember that you are there to help with the Change … not to force it through!

Don’t shy away from getting the Scrum Team (you client) to work with you through the process:

  1. Get them to tell you what is their most pressing matter at this point?
  2. If they come up with multiple items, get them to pick the most painful one that has been giving them the most trouble.
  3. Now it would be a good time to get them to think why they chose that problem as the most painful one (or in other words, why they think fixing this one is the most important fix they want to do now);
  4. If this is not a completely new problem, get them to think about the most recent precedences and whether that recent pain is contributing to today’s agenda item for resolution.
  5. Get them to picture you the best outcome from the resolution of this problem (what is the best that can happen).
  6. And then ask them how they think you can help them with the problem (of course you know how you are going to do it … this is a good time to make sure they are taking you as a mentor!)
  7. Stay focus on the outcome of your efforts … the sequence of steps we mentioned here, and going through all of them, are not as important as helping your team find their answers and actions.
  8. You may get frustrated, you may get bored, but whatever you are feeling inside, keep it there! Do not let your frustration make you sarcastic or confronting them – regardless of how obvious or simplistic the answer may look like!
  9. When they agree on the Action Items they need to do as a resolution, get them to also agree on a deadline for their completion, and then track the progress on that Action Item based on the timeline. This way the solution would not be getting dust beyond the racks of new work that comes down the pipe for the Scrum Team.

We continue this conversation in the next article …


Arman Kamran (The Agilitizer)