individuals and interactions

5 Steps a Scrum Master Should Take to Join a New Team

Scrum masters often underestimate the importance of meeting a team for the first time and take it for a usual formality. But further work and development of the team and the scrum master as a specialist depend on the way this meeting is held. The key to success is clear, measurable goals at the start and their understanding and acceptance by the entire team. In this article I will describe 5 steps a scrum master should take to join a new team by an example from my own negative experience.

How I joined a new team (it was a complete failure)

I worked as an Internet project manager for 7 years using the hands of contractors and did not really know anything about teamwork. Later, I got a completely new role for me — a scrum master in an already existing strong team. Before the first meeting I studied the information about the role of a scrum master on all possible resources and concluded that my main task is to continuously improve processes in the team. Now I understand that it was a mistake.

So, the product manager introduced me to the team:
Please make Mikhail feel welcome! He is a member of our team now — our new scrum master!
Product Owner
Then I gave a brief resume of my experience to the team and agreed with them to observe their work. So, my presentation ended.

At that time the functions of a scrum master in the team were performed by the analyst, who had absolutely no time left for the analytics itself. He was bogged down in the administrative routine: setting up tasks for development, coordinating releases, planning and holding meetings, and monitoring tasks implementation.

I saddled myself with these functions, thus giving the team more time for development. It was a mistake. In the beginning the team did something on their own, then gradually I became a clerk for them and got over my head in the bureaucracy. This situation did not make the team better and did not develop me as a specialist.

It lasted a year and a half. If I had told the team about my goals at the very beginning, then this time could have been used in a more effective way both for the company and for me. The team did not allow me to develop by burdening with routine administrative work.

How to join a new team correctly

Soon a new Release Train Engineer (RTE) was employed by the company, and he showed by personal example how to join a new team correctly. He immediately outlined the tasks that the company set before him and the deadlines for their completion, told about his personal goals and beliefs. Everything was clear, transparent and did not raise any questions. After that I started to see the big picture and developed an algorithm for joining a new team correctly, so now I would like to share it with you.
5 steps of a scrum master to join a new team correctly:
  1. Before the meeting ask your colleagues about the composition of the team, its achievements, its strengths and weaknesses. Start your meeting with a short summary of these points.
  2. Tell the team about past work experience and key achievements in order to form the correct opinion about your professional qualities.
  3. Tell about your mission in the company. This information will help the team understand what values you share, why you want to fulfill the functions, and what drives you.
  4. Present your detailed plan with goals, deadlines and the expected result to the team. This will bring transparency to your relationship.
  5. End the meeting focusing on the following three issues:
    a) Ask whether they have any idea how to achieve the goals faster.
    б) Ask whether they you disagree with any goals.
    в) Propose to discuss and record all risks and the way you will work with them.

Example of entering a new team

How it looks by my example:
Hey guys! My name is Michail and I want to become a part of your team. Your colleagues told me that you launched a project for Sberbank quickly and without errors. The business customer is as pleased as Punch, and the department considers you a strong team.

Let me tell a little about myself. I am 30 years old. For 7 years I was involved in the launch of large and small Internet projects as a project manager. The largest of them are the redesign of Yoga Journal Russian publishing house and a number of projects for Metalloinvest metallurgical holding.

I have joined the company as a scrum master. I want to help people and teams get better every day. It's nice to see how people solve working issues and continuously improve the system with my help and then without it.

The company has set me a few goals that I want to discuss with you.
Michael Martynov
Scrum Master
Next, present the team with a detailed plan with goals, deadlines and the expected result.

An example of a plan:
After that there is a constructive dialogue, as a result of which the scrum master and team agree on a common plan of actions. The goals are clear and transparent, the deadlines are fixed, the team moves in one direction showing the maximum productivity. This is the beginning of a challenging field of endeavour for a scrum master. You can read about the remaining steps in my blog.

Do you know how to improve the algorithm of the first meeting with the team?
Let’s discuss it together. Tell us about your experience in the comments.

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