Scrum Master means Anti-Manager

antimanager

 

 

 

 

 

 

After coaching Agile in many companies, I have got the same question about the role of Scrum Master (and Product Owner as well). Why Managers can be Scrum Masters?

The answer for me is very simple because they are bosses and think in that way. For instance, what happens if the chair of one team member broke? The manager should recommend talking with human resources of the company. On the other hand, Scrum Master has to give his chair to remove the impediment of the team member.

Servant Leadership

The Scrum Master has to protect the team from interruptions such as managers who want to introduce more user stories in the middle of the Sprint without discussing with the Product Owners.  However, Scrum Master should suggest to Product Owner consider very carefully to add new user stories in order to not disturb the Sprint.

Examples

Once I had a conversation with a Manager about the rise of salaries from many team members that have got their rise of salary a couple of years ago and they deserve it but the manager responded to me that the company needs to increase its profits before raising any salary. Of course, that manager has annual bonus and other benefits that all of the team members hadn’t. As Scrum Master told him I have to motivate team members and if they are underpaid it would be very difficult to do it. Manager responded to me, well all of them have the chance to move to other company and start getting more money.

Furthermore, another time a tester requested to talk to me because she wants to leave the company. When I wonder why she was considering to quit the company her answer was: the company didn’t care about me and when I suggested to have an honest conversation with her manager she responded to me: I had and my manager suggested to move to other company that should give better opportunities to climb the ladder in her career.

To conclude, I haven’t known any manager who wants to resign his power in order to become a facilitator for each of the team member and I had the same bad experience with managers filling the role of Product Owners.

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Mario Lucero

Mario Lucero

I am all about helping companies to adopt agile as methodology in Chile. Why? I believe many organizations think that agile is not for Chilean companies because of Chilean culture is totally different from i.e. USA culture but I worked with Chilean professionals who after using agile realized it is feasible to implement it. Agile works in small and large projects and there are many evidences which demonstrate this.

10 comments

  1. Interesting read. 🙂 I do suggest, however, that you have someone with a bit more English skills to proofread, since the violations to the English grammar are abundant. Keep up the good work!

    1. Hi

      Thanks for your words and tips.

      Mario

  2. Hmm
    – in organization that respect scrum values there is no place for managers from your example
    – salary rise is temporary solution for motivating team members. As scrum master you should for example notify management about unfair salaries, bonuses framework – explain what is wrong with this, what are consequences etc.

    Question for you … why do you think that becoming a facilitator is losing “power”? For me this is the way to get more power and get more among the team.

    1. *get more respect among the team

    2. If you are a traditional manager or project manager to fill out the role of Scrum Master you won’t have more power to your former employees. This is my point. I saw many times that Manager are not good to be SM because they “loose” the power to have your employees in control.

      If you want we can discuss on Skype (metlucero is my id).

      Thanks for your feedback.
      Mario

  3. thx for the post!
    do you use any online tools for PM??

    I`m using Craft for scrum product management.

    1. Hi Andrew

      I used to work with Rally and lastly with Jira in my last client.

      In fact, it depends on the client what Scrum product management tool use.

      Kind Regards

      Mario

  4. I don’t completely agree with the statement ” Managers can’t be Scrum Master”. It’s all about the mindset. I have seen Scrum Master who acts worse than a manager and I have also seen managers who are good scrum masters.
    If some manager is behaving as told in your article then I think its a failure of the transformation coaching team, who are responsible for coaching and changing the mindset of people who are willing to transform.
    Even at the later stage its Scrum master’s role to act as a coach not only for team but also for the organization hence they should coach the manager to be more agile.

    In worst case scenario still if the manager not willing to transform, then I would personally suggest that the scrum master should consider him as a impediment approach the management team ask them to deal with the impediment which is stopping the team from delivering high value.

    1. Hi Ravikiran

      Apart of the mindset transformation that any Manager has to do to become Scrum Master there is another issue with them, lack of time. It means, a manager has to attend different meetings with Directors and so on. Indeed, I have never run into with a manager who has enough time to attend activities such as games, workshops, etc.

      I work in SouthAmerica where you have to deal with a lot of layers of managers. All of them are too busy in meetings.

      Kind Regards,

      Mario

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