Scrum Master Survival Tips: For New Scrum Masters

In our occasional series about how to survive as a successful Scrum Master, we want to take some time to look at a few tips to help you in your first Scrum Master role.

Embrace the Questions

It’s normal to feel like you have a thousand questions running through your head. Questions like:

The end of the sprint is next week. Did we really understand the requirements? Are we going to have anything to demo? Already? It feels like we only just started, what are we going to show? Have we got enough time to finish everything?


Was I a good Scrum Master? Did I help the team?

Don’t panic! In fact, the more you are questioning, the better it is. A Scrum Master is constantly looking for answers and for places to adjust, flex and tweak processes to improve things. You’ll only get there by asking questions.

Sometimes by the time you’ve formulated the right question and gone looking for the answer, the problem has gone away. However, there will be times when you ask the right question at the right time, the team has a lightbulb moment, and you all work better as a result.

Put in the Planning

Maybe, when you have a little more experience, you can be a little more laid back about how you approach planning sessions. However, when you are starting out, you should give considerable thought to how to get the best out of the planning meetings.

Plan how you want them to go before you get to the meeting. Then you can be structured and facilitative during the session. Be prepared for people to ask questions about the scope of the work, the basis of estimates, and to push back. The more time you have spent thinking through how to handle objections or in working with others to address them before you go into your planning meetings, the better prepared you will be.

This goes for demos as well. If you feel it would help the team to ‘rehearse’ their demo before giving it live, plan time for that to happen.

Help The Team Be Realistic About Their Goals

Be the person who says, “Really?” when a colleague says they can deliver 10 features in the next 3 days. Challenge respectfully. It’s your job to be the voice of reason and to make the team think twice about the promises it is making. If you don’t feel that they are being realistic, say so.

During the Sprint watch out for team members who are struggling, or who appear to be taking on too much. It might be a sign that the work for the Sprint is unbalanced or that there are others on the team who do not have enough to do, or that you over-committed.

Keep The Big Picture In Mind

It’s easy to lose track of the bigger picture when you are deep in the detail of a Sprint. Your role is to make sure that the end goal is still firmly kept in sight. By taking a step back from the detail and staying out of the weeds, you can spot dependencies between Sprints or with other project teams. You can keep an eye on what you are delivering and how that fits into the bigger picture of the product or the business.

It’s a lot easier to make sure that those linkages are fleshed out early on so that you can plan for features to be completed on time to be passed to another team, for example. Every so often, bring the team up to that level so that everyone can get a glimpse of the end state again.

Ready to take on your first Scrum Master role? Let Triumph Strategic Consulting help you find the ideal position for you. Get in touch, and soon you’ll be on your way to putting these tips into practice. Contact dawn goodman, CSM if you are ready to take your career to the next level.