What’s your favorite chat/video tool at work?

the earlier days

Back when we were still working at the office, it was easy to just walk over and ask a question to our team member. As a Scrum Master, I can spot when someone was asking the team to work on something we didn’t plan and do something about it right away. This is the “protecting the team” part.

I was tempted to say that we didn’t need other communication tools as long as we were co-located.

That’s not quite true though. There are many other times,  I have to admit, when having the chat & videoconferencing tool proved to be useful and necessary. Think about all those times when it was just impossible to find a meeting room available that fits the size of number of participants, that had a projector/monitor, and at a time when everyone was available. You’re probably nodding to that. Thank goodness for  videoconferencing tools when that happens.

Don’t forget all those jokes the team sends to each other over chat, it just doesn’t have the same effect if spoken out loud 🙂


Applications are changing at a fast pace, one new feature appears after another… which in our field is actually normal (Not mentioning all the bugs increasing as well).

I used Slack in previous companies but I don’t think the features were that advanced or all features enabled by the companies at that time. What I liked was the integration with Jira where a notification is sent directly to Slack when an issue was modified. When you want QA to be notified that a user story was Ready for Testing  by changing the issue status, then this was a good way to go about it.  It saved the Dev from doing twice the work, which was chatting with QA to say that the story was ready and then changing the story status. I definitely preferred this over email notification.  Some of you might have just disabled Jira email notification. I totally get you.

It was also nice having different themes to choose from, some were more “eye-friendly” than others.  Another good thing about Slack was that I could easily install it on my phone without requiring all the vpn software that Teams can require. You’re probably thinking why I would need that since Slack is installed on my pc. Well, I’ve found myself checking for messages on my phone and able to answer questions while waiting for an appointment, or taking the train. So I got a head start!

A few things I hope is now available in Slack is videoconferencing capabilities and allowing to add people in a normal conversation and not just in a channel, that was a bummer for me.

webex, google meet

In the past, I used Cisco Webex and Google Meet for videoconferencing capabilities. They worked fine, we were able to share our screens and heard each other pretty well but at that time there was no whiteboard, no breakout rooms, so nothing more special to say. One downside I found at that time was that as the host, I was the only one to open the meeting. This is quite cumbersome if I was unable to open the meeting.

microsoft teams

I am now working everyday with Teams. I initially cringed based on past experience but it turns out Microsoft has been improving it.

With Teams, I can start a chat with a few people and easily add people to the chat while specifying if you want to share the previous chat history. Not a big deal you say? Well, we had a situation where we were trying to figure out why a deployment didn’t work. We only had a few people initially in the call. As we progressed in our investigation we realized we needed other people in to join our conversation. At that point, we opened a video call (with a simple click) so we can understand each other faster and better. Adding people to the video call was easy as well.  I really appreciated this with Teams, it was a feature I wanted when I was working with other applications in the past. (By the way, I don’t work for Teams nor is an affiliate in case you were wondering).

As a Scrum Master of multiple teams where many applications depend on ours, I have to talk with many different people. They have many questions, and I don’t always have the answer on the spot. A neat feature I found that helped me on this is the “Save message”. This easily saved the conversation that I knew I needed to get back to.  The other option is also to pin the chat, but there is a limitation of 15 chats.

Each Teams meeting is unique. Initially I thought this wasn’t practical but when I realized that sometimes I didn’t need to be in that meeting and anyone can just start the meeting, I changed my mind. The Daily Scrum can be started without me (I was in an urgent meeting) and the daily went on as it should. Remember, the Scrum Master isn’t actually mandatory there.

I had a team building activity and finally got to try out the Breakout session. This is niiiiiiice!! It worked really well. Let me know if you want me to do a blog of the activity I did.

I haven’t used much the whiteboard feature of Teams since I find Mural to be quite effective, more on that another time.

What about you, what is your favorite chat/video tool?

Why do you talk?

what’s your purpose

Do you notice yourself talking to a wall despite being in  front of a group of people looking at you? Do you get upset when the team isn’t doing what you are telling them, because your idea is the best one ? (well, so you think) . Why is it so hard for them to put the hours in their tasks at the end of the day?  I mean, it makes so much sense… (maybe to you but not to them)…

Why don’t they get you? Why aren’t they doing what you are telling them? 

How do you talk to your team? What tone do you use? What words do you choose to speak?

When you speak to your team, what is your purpose?

Is it :

  • to inform them
  • to motivate them
  • to challenge them
  • to enlighten them
  • to support them
  • to unblock them …

Hopefully it’s not to show-off.

What you say has an impact , so choose your words wisely.

You want to inspire your team, then why would you gossip about others. Why would you bad mouth others, the process, the management? What value does that bring?

You want to inspire your team, then why are you focusing on the negative things? 

You don’t understand why they don’t just do what you tell them because if they just do it, it will make their life easier?  You want them to change simply because you told them to?

Will you change if a stranger tells you to? Let’s face it, you still are a stranger to them, you are not family.

Let’s challenge the initial reason of why do you want them to change? Do they see any issues? Are you seeing issues that don’t exist for the team? Maybe the first step is getting the team to see the issues … or you realizing there isn’t any.

Be creative in how you bring the topic and guide them to see what changes they can do and how will it improve their work life. They will eventually come up with your suggestion or an even better one. Your solution isn’t the only one that can work, you have to remember that. Keep an open mind.

Let us be realistic, yes… pessimistic, no…optimistic, YES!  Despite everything that looks bad (a change in scope, environment issues, internet problems, access issues, lack of licenses), do you see that your team is able to deliver a product increment? That in itself is amazing!

What we are lucky to have, is a team. We are not perfect, but we are not alone. We have a team,  and they are amazing in finding a workaround, to deliver a product increment. So let’s focus on delivering something great. Let’s focus on the things that we can change. How about our attitude to begin with?


  • What is your intention (inform, motivate, inspire,…)?
  • Why do you want the team to change
  • We are lucky to have a team

Shut your mouth and open up your mind

As a Scrum Master who is gaining more and more experience, you may think you know it all, or at least act like it.

The truth is: you don’t know it all, you can’t possibly know it all.

What worked in a previous team is not a magic recipe that will automatically work on the next team. There are too many variables involved: the team members, the management team, the development process, the deployment process, the mood swings, unexpected events like a pandemic, people getting hired, people getting fired, people quitting ….Do I need to say more?

Be inspired from your past experiences, learn from them. Take them as source of inspiration on how you can help your team but be always ready to adapt it, be open to your team’s input. Somebody doesn’t agree with your proposition? Ask why, and make sure you really listen to their answer. It’s OKAY. It’s actually fantastic that someone doesn’t agree with you because this is an opportunity for your personal growth.

Don’t try to force the team to fit into your ideology, your process, your way which you think is the only way. Listen to your team. For that to happen, you must have be open-minded.

Shut your mouth and open up your mind. You are not listening if you allow your mind to wander or if you are too concentrated on having that reply ready or preparing that “good” advice.

Listen with the intent to understand.

You MUST take a step back and get frequent reality check.  Take the pulse of the current situation. Assess how the team is functioning, what is working well, what isn’t. Is there anything that seems odd, how is the team’s mood? Create your own retrospective of the team, what do you observe? And then what would you like to happen? Do you see that the team can improve on some aspect? How can you bring the team to see for themselves there is something to improve. How can you show them so that they have a good reason to change something in order to improve?

Whenever you are proposing a change, whenever you want to give an advice, make sure you take a step back and ask yourself: am I recommending this simply based on what I’ve seen or have I really taken into consideration the present time with all the variables.

One of the fun things about being a Scrum Master, which some may argue is the opposite of fun, is having the opportunity to work in different situations, be exposed to different challenges, different complexities and learning from it. There is so much room for personal and professional growth.!!! None of this is possible, however, if you don’t listen and you don’t keep an open mind.