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.