How to tell if you are an effective Scrum Master

AUTHOR: Ryan Griggs, Scrum Master

Finding an opportunity to learn is important for everyone. Once someone learns to seek out feedback and internalise it in a mature way, they can super charge their ability to grow. The Agile community has understood the power of feedback for decades and has developed tools, strategies and ceremonies to take advantage of such feedback. Agile practitioners will be familiar with the retrospective (retro) which is a time for the development team to reflect individually and collectively to identify potential action items which can make the next sprint even more productive. Scrum Masters are tasked to ensure that the team is positioned in an environment where everyone is comfortable to engage in honest discussions.

Retros are not only for the team, it is also a great opportunity for Scrum Masters to receive feedback. However, depending on the team cohesion and the people who make up the team, getting honest feedback specifically for the Scrum Master can be difficult. Not everyone is comfortable addressing individuals directly, especially with criticisms, which can lead to a scenario where the team feels that they do not have an avenue to provide feedback, thus leading to frustrations. To address this, the Scrum Master can use a method like the “ROI Feedback” line to anonymously gather data.

Tools:

  • White board
  • White board markers
  • Sticky notes
  • Pens

Setup:

The entire process is centred around a line with a happy face on the one end and a sad face on the other end, similar to the picture below.

Implementation (5min total):

Complete this exercise at the end of the retro just before the team is about to leave.

The Scrum Master will exit the room while the rest of the team individually completes this part of the retro, giving them space to anonymously post feedback for the Scrum Master. Each individual will write feedback on a sticky note specific to how the Scrum Master has performed over the last sprint. On the way out of the session, the individuals can stick the feedback on the line. The line represents the return on the time invested into the retro – if the individual pastes the sticky note closer to the happy end of the line, then they feel like they are getting good value from the time spent on the retro and vice versa.

Final Thoughts

It is important for the team to understand that the feedback for the Scrum Master contained on the sticky notes is unrelated to where on the line they paste it. The sticky note can have good feedback for the Scrum Master and still be pasted on the sad end of the line and vice versa. This exercise collects two data points; first is feedback from the team for the Scrum Master on how they think he or she is doing and the second will allow the Scrum Master to gauge how the team feels about the time spent on the retrospective.

Try it in your next session!