Strategies for success for your first days as a Scrum Master

Congratulations on your new position as a Scrum Master! Whether you’re changing jobs or starting your first one, it’s an exciting but often stressful time. However, it also presents numerous opportunities for growth and learning. You’ll encounter new people and a different Agile environment, which may seem daunting at first, but joining an established team can also provide the team with many unique advantages.

But what exactly should you focus on to make the most of it during this time? And why is it essential to have a solid strategy in place? In this article, I’ll share with you some practical guidelines that have proven successful for me whenever I become a Scrum Master in a new team.

Looking back to move forward

First impressions count for a lot, and it’s well-known that the impression you make in the first few minutes can last up to a year. That’s why it’s crucial to have a well thought-out plan for your first few weeks as a new Scrum Master. In fact, you can start planning even before you officially begin working with your new team.

If this isn’t your first role as a Scrum Master, I recommend conducting a personal retrospective on your performance with your previous team. Self-reflection is an important part of any Scrum Master’s professional development, and transitioning to a new team is an excellent opportunity to take stock of your previous experiences. Before starting with your new team, take some time to reflect on your previous role and evaluate your performance as a Scrum Master.

Start by asking yourself questions like:

  • What challenges did I face in my previous role, and how did I handle them?
  • What techniques and approaches did I find effective in my previous role, and which ones didn’t work so well?
  • How did I balance my responsibilities as a facilitator, coach, and servant leader?
  • Was I able to foster a positive team culture, and if so, how?
  • What feedback did I receive from my previous team members, and what could I have done differently?

Taking a deep dive into your previous role as a Scrum Master can help you identify your strengths and areas for improvement. It can also provide valuable insights into the kind of Scrum Master you want to be with your new team. Keep in mind that self-reflection is an ongoing process, and there will always be room for growth and improvement. By continually evaluating your performance and seeking feedback, you’ll be better equipped to support your team and help them achieve their goals.

Become a Scrum Master

Navigating day one

Your first day as a Scrum Master has arrived, but that doesn’t mean you’ll jump right into facilitating meetings and coaching the team. Instead, you’ll begin a discovery process to learn about your new team and organization. Think of yourself as a detective, observing team behaviors and trying to understand the motives behind them. In the next article, I’ll explore techniques for conducting this discovery phase. For now, it’s important for you to remember to communicate with your team that you’ll be observing, taking notes, and asking lots of questions during your first few weeks.

However, there may be a few key meetings that you may want to organize. Those are:

  • Expectations setting meeting
  • Roles & responsibilities clarification
  • Retrospective Zero

Aligning expectations as a way to build mutual trust

As a new Scrum Master, it’s important to start building trust with your team early on. One way to do this is by organizing an expectations setting meeting. This meeting is an opportunity to discuss and align on expectations for how the team will work together. You can use this meeting to establish norms around communication, decision-making, conflict resolution, and any other areas that are significant to the team’s success. Make sure to come prepared with some initial ideas, but also be open to feedback and ideas from the team. By involving everyone in this process, you’ll start building a shared understanding of how the team will work together, which will be invaluable as you move forward.

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Let’s be clear… on roles!

As a new Scrum Master, one of your priorities should be to establish clarity around the roles and responsibilities of everyone on the team. This can be especially important if team members are new to Scrum or if they’re not entirely clear on what’s expected of them in their respective roles. One way to do this is by organizing a role and responsibilities workshop. In this workshop, you can take some time to review the Scrum framework and discuss what each role entails. You can also use this time to clarify any ambiguities around roles and discuss how the team can work together effectively. Make sure to involve everyone in this process, and encourage discussion and questions. By taking the time to establish clear roles and responsibilities early on, you’ll set the foundation for a high-performing team.

3, 2, 1, 0 and start!

Another important meeting to consider is the Retro Zero. This retrospective can help establish collaboration with the new team and mark a clean break from the past. As the Scrum Master, it’s crucial to listen carefully to the team’s concerns, identify their strengths, and understand what’s not working. The Retro Zero may be the first opportunity for the team to voice their complaints openly, so it’s important to be receptive and non-judgmental. Be careful not to try to solve everything at once, but rather use this meeting as a discovery tool. You can select one or two problems to address as a team, focusing on the low-hanging fruit; however, once you’ve chosen a problem to tackle, follow through and work to resolve it. Building trust with the team is critical, so it’s essential to become a Scrum Master who is action-oriented and doesn’t just talk, but also delivers results.

If you want to learn more about trust and feedback in Happy Team, continue reading our blog: Why feedback is important?

In the next article, I will write about the discovery phase of your new team and what tools you can use to make the most out of it! We will keep in touch!

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