Coaching advice for Scrum Masters (Part 9): Clarity and Efficiency in Communications

Clarity and efficiency in what is being communicated is a great facilitator of understanding, envisioning and opening the gateways into the world of the Clients, from which the Coach can energize and mobilize creativity and insightfulness of Clients’ minds towards uprooting the key issues and sparking solutions against them.

A Coaching Scrum Master should maintain the focus on Client in order to maintain the dynamic conversation needed to generate customized questions as the conversation moves forward, to solicit the information needed for the next step in the conversation, with an effective use of the session.

Clear expression helps the Coach to clearly communicate the agenda for the session, the starting point of this session based on the previous conversations and direction this session is intended to go.

Communication is not just talking with your Client. You should also have developed a sense of when to interrupt the Clients and how to bring them back on the focus they need to raise the efficiency of the session.

For example if you see that Client is stuck in a loop and can’t seem to find a way up and out of it, interrupt by saying “I would need to interrupt you here as it seems you are repeating yourself over and over and the conversation is looping around itself”.

The Coaching Scrum Master is aware that the communication is for the Client to help finding a way through the issue at hand. It is not supposed to be to the Client in order to dictate a recipe.

Coach leads the “WHAT” in the communication while the Client is assisted, encouraged and motivated to create the “HOW” part of it (i.e. Coach helps the Client to understand WHAT needs to be achieved and then helps the Client to find HOW it can be done.)

A Coaching Scrum Master avoid the following anti-patterns in communications:

  • Loosing the focus away from the Client and onto themselves (in trying to be the best Coach, they would forget the Client along the path!)
  • Using fuzzy and unclear language (or words) when communicating with the Client, and creating confusion and eventually frustration in the Client.
  • Not adjusting the pace of the communication with Client’s ability or interest to follow. (Too fast or too slow would both damages the conversation, hurt Client’s trust in your ability to Coach and would cost everyone precious time and energy.)
  • Not adjusting the conversation (and questions) based on the information received during the session (through verbal and non-verbal communication), and thus missing the opportunity to ask well customized efficient questions.)
  • Not making proper use of examples, humor, or even sound cues – e.g. “hmmm” – to enrich the conversation, and even worse, damaging the rapport and the mood of the session and forcing the Client to disconnect from or rush the conversation.
  • Not managing the Silence properly; Allowing too much air in the conversation or not allowing enough pause for the Clients to collect their thoughts and cool down their overly engaged minds during the session.
  • Not capturing and busting repeating patterns in Client’s responses (i.e. when they seem to loop back on a topic or repeat their response.

We will continue this discussion in the next article.


Arman Kamran (The Agilitizer)