I’m a Scrum Master and this is my story

By Gorica Nadjinska, Scrum MasterThursday, March 31, 2022

As businesses are already adjusting to new ways of working, especially remotely like in the case of Reiz Tech, the responsibilities of the Scrum Masters remain the same. Whether the team is co-located or hybrid, it is crucial for Scrum Masters to ensure the agile practice is maintained. The only differences can be found in “how”, so this article will focus on sharing some tips and tricks (from my first month at Reiz Tech) for building an effective, self-efficient team for the Scrum Masters who are working remotely.

Customize your work agreement together with the team

In a remote environment, a tailor-made team agreement can go a long way. The agreement should stir to document all your unique ways of working as a team like:

  • Roles and responsibilities of the team members,

  • Time and agenda for Scrum events,

  • Definition of Done and Definition of Ready,

  • Tools and ways of communication among the team and with the clients and stakeholders,

  • And everything else that is exclusive to the team.

Collaboration is important, all members should participate in creating it, as it should not feel imposed. The agreement should always be publicly posted, agreed upon by all team members, accessible for the whole team, and updated regularly.

Build and keep the trust

When functioning remotely, building the trust within the team might just be the most challenging, but at the same time, most rewarding aspect of the SMs’ work. It is important to:

  • Create a safe environment for the team and demonstrate it by being open about bottlenecks, issues, and problems (maybe even personal ones),

  • Assure a setting for sharing less formal conversations and more personal stories, as that helps improve team dynamics and morale.

  • Develop compassion and empathy for team members by understanding that not everyone has the same working conditions and is maybe facing difficulties beyond our reach.

  • Ensure face-to-face interactions by introducing video calls and video meetings, especially in retrospective and one on one meetings.

But in any case, a useful practice that the Scrum Master can insure is to just trust the team, by focusing on Sprint and Daily goals, rather than controlling each task on the board.

Ensure transparency

As transparency is one of the core pillars of Scrum, it’s up to the Scrum Master to ensure the usage of all applicable tools to provide a better overview of the process for the whole remote team as well as the clients. It would be helpful to:

  • Make the progress visible by constantly revisiting the burn down chart and other methods for tracking progress,

  • Record the main scrum events, especially when someone is not able to join in,

  • Include the stakeholders and clients in the process as frequently as possible, to gather feedback in both directions,

  • Encourage the team to communicate via public channels instead of private chats, thus helping build not just openness, but also endorsing collaboration among team members, since anyone can see the mentioned issue and jump in to solve the problem.

Increased transparency benefits the team by providing a direct sense of what everyone contributes, so it encourages team members to help each other out by creating a solid ground for teamwork. With time, this might help the team learn to solve problems more efficiently, as being connected to each other’s work helps build a stronger, resilient team.