If you have been a Scrum Master for the same team for at least six months, I have a feeling your level of excitement for the job may no longer be the same as it was just a few weeks ago. I have been down this road before. Being and staying motivated and engaged as the “glue” and coach for the team is a tough thing to sustain for a long period of time, especially if your team has surpassed the initial storming/norming phase. This may seem counter-intuitive, but if you are like me, as a team becomes more and more capable, the job of a Scrum Master may feel less and less rewarding since the team will likely need your help less than before.
So, if you are in this situation where your team has learned Scrum and is fairly competent, and is able to deliver against plan relatively consistently, how do you stay motivated? What can you do to reinvigorate yourself as well as the team? Here are a few tips that may help you.
Tip #1 – Focus on guiding/coaching instead of giving the solution.
From my experience mentoring Scrum Masters, I have discovered that most Scrum Masters begin their journey either as trainers or administrators – they either conduct formal training classes or they take on administrative duties for the team such as setting up meetings, reserving conference rooms, etc. While there is nothing wrong with helping out where you can, as a Scrum Master, your contribution to the team is the greatest when you are helping the team to develop a self-learning mindset. Instead of giving them the answers, give them hints and help them reach the solution themselves. This is not an easy thing to do as it requires patience and persistence. However, this will help you develop your coaching mindset which will set you up for future growth opportunities as a full-blown Agile Coach. The Advanced Scrum Master Practice Guide may inspire additional ideas.
Tip #2 – Avoid “running meetings” unless the team is lost.
This is similar to #1, but slightly different. If you have been with your team for six months, the team will likely have grown accustomed to the way things are done. Challenge them to take a more proactive role in meetings such as Daily Scrums, Sprint Planning, etc. Truly self-organized teams should not need the Scrum Master to hold their hands once they have achieved a high-performing stage, and oftentimes, teams cannot reach that stage if the Scrum Master does not allow them the opportunity to evolve.
Tip #3 – Learn Kanban
If you think you have mastered Scrum, it might be a good time to look at Kanban and see how you might be able to incorporate some of the practices into the team’s Scrum techniques. If you have not heard of the team “Scrumban”, I highly recommend you to explore this technique and seek opportunities to experiment with it. The Kanban Quick Start Guide or the Scrumban Practitioner’s Guide may be worth a look.
Tip #4 – Try out new Retrospective formats
After six months, you most likely have completed somewhere between six and twelve Retrospectives with your team. This means that you probably have been reusing the same format for these sessions, which also means the team is likely starting to get bored with them, which is easily observed by the meetings feeling repetitive or ending with very few ideas for improvements. There is a plethora of resources online (such as www.tastycupcakes.org) which offers a variety of formats for running fun and inventive Sprint Retrospectives. Pick one or two and see how it works with your team.
Tip #5 – Learn a scaling model
If you are getting bored as a Scrum Master, perhaps you are ready to experience a more complex project that requires multiple Scrum teams. Even if the opportunity does not exist today, it might be beneficial to begin learning a scaling framework so that you have a head start. Also, learning something new will also likely energize you and help you stay engaged. The most popular scaling framework in the market today is SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework), which is definitely worth a look. Other frameworks such as LeSS (Large Scale Scrum),
To wrap up this short article, I have shared a few ideas to help you get out of a “rut” if you are getting bored as a Scrum Master. With so much to explore and learn, there is really no reason to stay stuck, so if you find yourself in this position, you owe it to yourself to take action and keep moving forward!