CHOW #186: Scrum Master Connect

Manoj is a Scrum Master your fellow coach Swamy has coached in the past. Swamy has moved on to another organization. You bump into him at the cafeteria and have a short conversation with him. He says he has been wanting to talk to you to seek some inputs from you.

Here is what he has to say:

During the coaching phase I would discuss challenging scenarios with the coach (Swamy) and get insights and different approaches to resolve issues. Swamy would share observations which were eye opening and beneficial to me. Swamy would also bring to my attention, if I was crossing the boundary with respect to practices or in interaction with team members.
Now with no coach associated with the team, I am wondering if there is any way I could get these kind of inputs, especially, if I am crossing the boundary in any situation.

He also asks if it is OK to get in touch with you once in a while.  As both of you are in a hurry you decide to catch-up later. When you do catch-up with him what suggestions/inputs/help will you offer to him?


In this scenario, I see Manoj’s need is all encompassing starting from specific inputs in the team context to broad canvas where one can look at different approaches and solutions. I have encountered similar questions from many and share a few of the suggestions that I have given at different times and in different context.

Firstly, I would encourage Manoj to have a trustworthy buddy or a go to person with who he could discuss various issues and solutions. The buddy should be a one who will act as a sounding board and help him explore various options. The buddy could be a peer or it could be a manager. Many times, the role of the buddy will be to just listen, as articulating an issue can bring forth a lot of insight.

Secondly, I would ask/check how open he is to receiving feedback and encourage to have a 1-on-1 connect with his team members. This should not be confused with the 1-on-1 that a manager has with his report. This is Manoj as a Scrum Master/Servant Leader, checking with his team members, in a 1-on-1 setting, at regular cadence on how things are and if anything can be changed. I recommend the cadence of meeting just one team member a week. This meeting will help Manoj start receiving useful inputs after a few such connects. This of course depends on how he makes this connect.

Lastly, is observing oneself or being self-aware. If he is concerned that something is not going well, would encourage him to a do a quick review/retrospection of that event or incident. It could be just a personal fist or five. It will stimulate his thinking and impact his approach. Again, this has to be done in measure – avoid overdoing it.

Actually, one should be careful in overdoing any of the above. If you do all of the above judiciously, you will have some of the benefits that a coach would bring in, without having a coach.

What do you think?

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