What Techniques Could A Scrum Master Use in 2023?

GoRetro Team
January 9, 2023
Posted on
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It is common to talk about techniques when dealing with what scrum masters do. Techniques in Scrum are used by the Agile Lead/Scrum Master that helps the team grow in the Scrum framework. This means becoming more autonomous and more self-organizing and self-governing.

List of Scrum Master Techniques

A Scrum Master will have many techniques at their disposal to help them support a Scrum team. The Scrum Master must be able to distinguish which situation they are in, and accordingly decide on which technique is appropriate to use.

These are some techniques that can be used, and the time to use them:

1. Holding a Retrospective

If you’re finding that the team is repeating mistakes, or you see a recurrence of other anti-patterns it is important to ask yourself why. If you aren’t reviewing your work regularly it’s difficult to align the team, keep everyone motivated and very hard to get a sense of what’s going on. A tool like GoRetro can be the most effective technique a Scrum Master has to show a team their mistakes, how to learn from them and what they must do to become better for the future.

2. Using a ‘Talking Stick’ in meetings

If you’re finding that teammates are non-cooperative, disrespecting each other, talking over one another, or your meetings just often run over schedule then a talking stick can be a great idea. The talking stick is a symbol - it doesn’t actually need to be a stick, but what it represents is that the person holding it must be given the respect of letting their thoughts known to the group. Note, the stick can be any object; a ball, a pen, a mug etc. it can be a fun idea to use an item your team knows and cherishes to make the meeting feel lighter. The talking ‘stick’ can also make sure everyone has the same amount of time to speak, meaning no one can hijack the meeting - As the Scrum Master you must keep track of the time and move the talking stick around the group accordingly. Furthermore, the talking stick can also bring other team mates into the meeting who wouldn’t have done so otherwise. By assigning the talking stick to everyone in the group you can make sure everyone’s voice is heard, without making it difficult to speak up.

3. Using Icebreakers before a meeting

If you’re finding that participation levels in Scrum events are lacking, or you feel like the team dreads their meetings, implementing Icebreakers can be a great fix. Icebreakers can come in all shapes and sizes. They can be Icebreaker questions, Icebreaker Games and Visual Icebreakers or Icebreaker Bingo. All of them have the same purpose - to ease tension and increase the togetherness of the group. It’s been shown that Icebreakers create more productive meetings due to participant buy-in. If the participants of the meeting feel more comfortable they are more likely to share their thoughts which directly correlates to more effective meetings. Every Scrum Master should have a large bank of Icebreakers ready to go for their team, large enough that you don’t repeat them regularly.

Different types of Icebreakers include:

4. Asking Open-Ended questions

If you’re finding that you aren’t getting detailed answers from your team, it could be because you aren’t asking the right questions. Practicing open-ended questions can change the way that your team gives you feedback, and can change the way that your team operates. For example, consider a question phrased as:

“Did you complete the new Customer sign-up flow ticket?” or “Tell me about the new Customer sign-up flow?”

The open-ended version focuses less on the deliverable and more on the holistic nature of the task. As a Scrum Master these types of questions are far more beneficial to ask, because you allow for more detail, personal opinion and other details to be included in the answer rather than just a yes/no.

5. Coaching and Development Techniques

This coaching technique includes providing support and advice to team members so they can improve their performance. 

The Scrum Master can help identify areas where team members need development and then provide resources and guidance to help them improve. This technique is effective because it helps team members learn and grow, which ultimately leads to better performance.

6. Establishing a Shared Vision and Goal for the Team

This involves helping the team establish a shared vision and goal. The Scrum Master can do this by facilitating discussions, helping to create a consensus and ensuring that everyone is on the same page.

This technique helps the team focus on what is important and ensures that everyone is working towards the same goal.

7. Encouraging Transparency and Communication

This involves encouraging team members to communicate openly and transparently with each other. The Scrum Master can help create an environment where team members feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas. 

This technique promotes collaboration and allows team members to learn from each other.

8. Identifying and Removing Obstacles That Are Blocking the Team’s Progress

Identifying and removing obstacles that are blocking the team’s progress is another important technique. The Scrum Master can help identify these obstacles and then work with the team to remove them. 

The technique is effective because it helps keep the team focused and on track, which leads to better performance.

9. Coaching and Mentoring Team Members Individually or in Small Groups

This technique involves working with team members one-on-one or in a small group setting to help them improve their skills and performance. It is important to remember that each team member is an individual with different strengths and weaknesses. 

As a Scrum Master, it is your job to identify these differences and then coach each team member accordingly. This technique is especially useful when you are dealing with team members who are struggling with their work or are not performing up to par. 

By working with them individually, you can help them identify the areas where they need to improve and then give them the guidance and support they need to make the necessary improvements.

10. Ways to Learn Common Techniques That Scrum Masters

This technique involves studying the different techniques that are commonly used by Scrum Masters and then learning how to use them yourself. 

There are many different books and online resources that you can use to learn about these techniques. In addition, there are also several courses that you can take that will teach you how to use them. 

Learning these techniques will allow you to be more effective in your role as a Scrum Master. It will also make it easier for you to train and mentor other team members who may not be familiar with them.

11. Mastering Scrum Knowledge

As a Scrum Master, it is your responsibility to be intimately familiar with the Scrum framework and all of its components. This means that you need to take the time to learn about the various aspects of Scrum and how they work together.

In addition, you also need to keep up with any changes or updates that are made to the framework. By mastering Scrum knowledge, you will be better equipped to help your team members when they have questions or need clarification on something. 

In addition, you will also be able to provide them with valuable insights and tips that can help them improve their own performance.

12. Keeping a Neutral Mindset

It is important for a Scrum Master to maintain a neutral mindset when coaching their team. This means that you should not be biased in your advice or guidance and that you should be open to all possibilities. 

When coaching team members, it is important to listen to what they have to say and to understand their point of view. 

Only then can you provide them with the best possible advice. Additionally, by maintaining a neutral mindset, you will be able to see both the positive and negative aspects of each situation and make the best decision for the team as a whole.

13. Facilitating Constructive Disagreements/Problem Solving

Another coaching technique that can be useful for Scrum Masters is facilitating constructive disagreements or problem-solving. This involves helping team members to resolve disagreements in a productive and positive manner. 

It is important to remember that not all disagreements need to be resolved through confrontation. Sometimes, it is more effective to simply allow team members to express their differing opinions and then help them to find common ground. 

This technique can be particularly helpful when team members are struggling to see eye-to-eye on an issue. By facilitating a constructive disagreement, you can help them understand each other’s point of view and then come up with a solution that everyone can agree on.

14. Igniting the Need for Reflection

The next coaching technique is to ignite the need for reflection within your team. This means you will need to encourage your team members to take some time out of their busy schedules to reflect on their work and their performance. 

This reflection can be done individually or in a group setting, but it is important that everyone takes part in it. Reflecting on their work will help team members identify areas where they need to improve and make changes accordingly.

It will also help them see the bigger picture and how their individual work fits into the overall goal of the team. As a Scrum Master, you should facilitate this process by providing guidance and support, but ultimately it is up to the team members to do the reflection.

15. Driving Self-Realization

The next coaching technique is to drive self-realization. This means that you help team members to realize their own potential and to see what they are capable of achieving. It is especially useful for team members who are struggling with their work or who are not performing up to par. 

By helping them to realize their own potential, you can motivate them to do better and to improve their performance. The technique can be used in conjunction with the first technique, coaching and mentoring team members individually or in small groups. 

By working with team members one-on-one or in a small group setting, you can help them realize their own potential and then give them the guidance and support they need to make the necessary improvements.

16. Shielding the Team

Another coaching technique that Scrum Masters can use is shielding the team. This involves protecting the team from outside distractions and interference so that they can focus on their work. 

There will always be distractions and interferences in any work environment, but it is up to the Scrum Master to identify these and then take steps to minimize their impact on the team.

This may involve dealing with difficult clients or stakeholders, handling conflict within the team, or even just keeping track of what everyone is working on so that you can keep things on track. Shielding the team allows them to focus on their work and prevents them from getting overwhelmed or bogged down by outside distractions.

17. Interpreting Team Behaviors

The final coaching technique that can be extremely helpful for Scrum Masters is to interpret team behaviors. This involves observing the way your team interacts with each other and then trying to understand the meaning behind their actions and words.

In order to effectively interpret team behaviors, it is important to be aware of the different personality types on your team. Each personality type will tend to interact with others in a unique way and this can often be used to help you understand what they are really trying to say or do. 

Once you have a good understanding of the different personality types on your team, you can start to interpret their behaviors in a more accurate way. This will allow you to provide them with the guidance and support they need in order to be more successful.

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