“Individuals and interactions over processes and tools” – Agile Manifesto
The quote above is from the Agile Manifesto, which outlines a few basic values that Scrum practitioners should follow. There is a good reason why it is the first one mentioned in the Manifesto…it is because Scrum will ALWAYS be about your team and the people you work with. Throughout this journey, I will reiterate how important it is to listen to your team and do what is best for the people around you! No Scrum book or certification will save you if you don’t put your people first!
That being said, imagine walking into the office on your first day as a Scrum Master for a thriving software development company. You are shown to your desk and given a lengthy orientation on the company and anything else you may need to know to get going. As you begin to settle in, you realize the exciting challenge in front of you. You have been given the green light to get Scrum going in this software organization. You will start in a fractal manner and begin with just one team made up of a Product owner, three Software Developers, an Automation Test Engineer, a UI developer and a QA Engineer.
A few of the members have been part of Scrum teams in the past, but for the most part they are open books ready to learn. They are excited to have you on board, but they are also now staring at you waiting to see what you will do first! I can sense your heart rate has now risen thinking about a bunch of people watching you in anticipation of what you will say and do next!
Before you plan any meetings or start doing anything Scrum related, you should start by simply getting to know your team. Who are they? What are their passions? Do they have families? How long have they been in the industry? What is their background? Perhaps you could go out to lunch with them as a team to get to know them a little bit better.
Start paying attention to the personalities you will be working with? Are they introverted? Extroverted? Rude? Space-y? Shy? Extremely helpful? This exercise will most likely take an extended period of time to get to know your team and other coworkers around you, but the more you pay attention to this aspect of the job, the more successful you will be!
One of the most important lessons that I have learned over the years when building rapport with people is that it is “better to be interested than interesting”. What I take from that quote is that you don’t need to concern yourself with coming across as the most exciting, well educated and intelligent person in the room, but rather, show genuine interest and appreciation in people and they will like you in return. Here’s my challenge for you when you walk into the office on your first day and begin meeting your new team. Find out that one thing that makes each individual’s eyes light up! Could it be that they like to fly piper planes on the weekend? Perhaps they are a Game of Thrones fan? Maybe they love playing the ukulele? Once you know what their passions are, you can connect with them and build a bond around those topics. This simple trick to making friends will be one of the most incredible tools you will ever use in your life.
It may be 5pm now, and you are probably exhausted and ready to go home! As we continue on this journey, we will talk a lot about human interactions, influence and leadership, but for now, we are just laying the groundwork and getting ready for an incredible and rewarding time being a Scrum Master.
I hope I didn’t scare you yet!