A Scrum manager is someone who occupies a leadership role within Scrum teams to facilitate communication among individual members and adherence to Agile and Scrum processes.
In a statistics report, Zippia revealed that agile projects have a 64% success rate among the 71% of U.S companies that have decided to embrace agile as a project management methodology.
Scrum managers, also known as Scrum masters, are expert facilitators that are critical to ensuring a stable, productive, healthy work environment for Scrum teams to guarantee the project’s success.
That said, since Scrum masters are multifaceted professionals who wear multiple hats on the job, it is challenging to pinpoint the exact roles and responsibilities they carry out within a given company.
This article dives into the world of Scrum masters to provide clarity on their day-to-day activities on the job as well as the significance of their role in promoting healthier, high-functional Agile teams.
Let’s get right into the discussion.
Scrum Manager Role
A Scrum manager is a supportive role that serves to provide guidance to an Agile team on Scrum and Agile practices and to optimize the productivity and output of the team at every stage of the project’s lifecycle. In their capacity as Scrum and Agile facilitators, Scrum masters are central pillars to the success of an Agile project, being a constant liaison across departments and team members to foster harmony and promote better work output on the job.
A Scrum master fills a multidimensional role that sits at the intersection between Agile, Scrum, team productivity, and work output. Based on data shared by BuiltIn, a Scrum manager in the United States earns as much as $103, 629 a year in exchange for the services they offer as a medium across departments in Agile organizations.
While being a Scrum master demands you to assume a leadership role, it’s important to note that an authoritative, personal-driven leadership style does not suit the role or team expectations of a Scrum master. Instead, a Scrum master must favor a servant-leadership style that underscores and prioritizes the betterment and advancement of the team and its objectives as opposed to those of the Scrum master.
Types of Scrum Managers
Since the role of a Scrum master is to facilitate a team’s adherence to Agile processes, their career path involves branching off into other managerial roles within product management as opposed to scaling within the sub-field of Scrum itself. That said, while recruiters and teams alike do not categorize Scrum masters based on their job title, they do differentiate between Scrum masters by their management style. There are two main Scrum master archetypes:
- The caring Scrum master is one who seeks to provide approval to insecure, doubtful, or vulnerable teams as much as possible. These types of Scrum masters value the importance of individual coaching, team building sessions, and guided mentorship as activities that are fundamental to the success of an Agile team. Caring Scrum Masters work with new, developing teams who require hands-on support to achieve success.
- Companies with mature, seasoned, and experienced Agile product teams work best with a tough Scrum master. Unlike the caring Scrum master, these types of Scrum masters are more critical of agile teams, and in turn, are less tolerant of defiance to Agile practices. In doing so, tough Scrum masters are quick at identifying factors that inhibit the team from sticking to Agile principles and work to clear them as soon as possible.
Scrum Master Responsibilities
A Scrum master’s main responsibilities are standard regardless of the company or organization for whom they work. These responsibilities are as follows:
- Facilitate Collaboration
- Provide Holistic Support
- Maximize Productivity
Let us take a closer look at each of the responsibilities in closer detail.
1. Facilitate Collaboration
As a Scrum master, one of your chief responsibilities is to ensure that there is harmony within the product team. Doing so entails creating mechanisms that facilitate easy collaboration and foster greater cohesion among team members.
Here are some of the specific responsibilities that fall under this category:
- Create, host, and moderate meetings for the product team
- Facilitate and encourage sharing of information between team members
- Record key takeaways from meetings and guarantee accountability
2. Provide Holistic Support
As a Scrum master, the product team looks to you to hold them accountable to Agile processes. Therefore, you must be a support system to the team and create the kind of workspace and environment that allows them to succeed. The approach you take varies based on your style of Scrum management. Here is a breakdown of the common tasks seen in this category:
- Provide mentorship, coaching, and training to the team and its members
- Conduct 1-1 sessions with team members to foster better people management
- Provide a platform or avenue for team members to address concerns or issues on the job
3. Maximize Productivity
A Scrum master’s actions all increase the quality of output of an Agile team and optimize their performance. Below, we have listed out a few tasks that Scrum masters carry out to ensure this:
- Identify roadblocks and find plausible, actionable solutions to them as soon as possible
- Ensure team accountability and measure performance based on adherence to the product roadmap
- Manage the Scrum board and make sure that all relevant cards remain up-to-date
Scrum Master Qualification
Scrum masters are pivotal collaborative roles within product teams whose responsibilities require a unique set of skills and experiences to succeed in the role. The standard qualifications required to become a Scrum master are as follows:
- Experience coaching, training, and mentoring product professionals
- Familiarity with software development processes
- Solid management skills
- Knowledge of Scrum tools (Jira)
- Strong communication and collaborative skills
- Bachelor’s degree in Business Management or a related field
Best Tips for New Scrum Masters
Landing a job as a Scrum master is a tall order if you don’t have any experience in Scrum roles. Not only must you optimize team output and provide the conditions for easy communication among team members, but you must also be a support system and coach for them when needed.
Use these three tips to help you succeed as a Scrum master and make a positive impact on your Scrum team.
1. Familiarize Yourself With Your Team Members
As a Scrum master, one of the biggest challenges you have to face on the job is managing people. Take some time to get to know your team members. Consider having an informal, group activity where you and your team members get to know each other. Schedule one-on-one meetings and get a feel for team dynamics as well as who the individual members are within the company. These activities help to break the ice and establish yourself as a trustworthy professional among the team who has the company’s best interest at heart.
2. Get Into the Habit of Providing Feedback
In your role as a Scrum manager, you watch the team’s progress from the start of the project till its completion. In doing so, you occupy a position that allows you to take note of the strengths, weaknesses, and shortcomings of the team and its members. Since continuous feedback is inherent to the Agile method, take some time to provide feedback to the team on their progress and areas that require improvement. Also, be receptive to any feedback they give you and use it to improve your management processes and the functioning of the team as a unit.
3. Maximize The Power of Retrospectives
Retrospectives are the most crucial part of any Scrum since it allows the team to take stock of its actions thus far and find ways to improve moving forward. For Scrum managers, these activities are important since not only do they provide you with insight into the team’s performance, but they are also a haven to flesh out ideas and find ways to better the team for the next project. While it is your job to ensure retrospectives are productive, feel free to allow other team members to take charge and voice their concerns. This helps to foster a more relaxed environment where everyone feels more comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings. In turn, this allows you to collect more reliable feedback and come up with actionable initiatives to improve the team’s output.
Taking up the job of a Scrum manager is not for the faint-hearted.
This role demands a solid combination of communicative, organizational, and people-management skills if you want to succeed.
That being said, over time, once you’ve grown into the responsibilities that you have to carry out, being a Scrum manager sets you up to enjoy a fruitful career path as a product leader and management executive.
Use this guide to inform your understanding of Scrum management, the responsibilities you have to face, as well as some tips that help to make it easier to assume this role.