This is the first in a series of posts walking through my approach to the performance review process for Scrum Masters.
1. Set clear and visual expectations for the Scrum Master role.
- Determine a “noble cause” for your Scrum Masters. Our noble cause is “Amazing Workplace + Happy Product Owners.” As we emerge from our Agile transformation, we have tried to build a strong culture based on trust, inclusion, and collaboration while delivering frequent value to our customers. This noble cause seemed to fit nicely – very simple and has a nice ring to it.
- Clearly set the expectations for the Scrum Master to live into the noble cause.I will be drilling into each of these in future posts
but on a high level we need our Scrum Masters focused primarily on team health, maintaining flow, removing impediments, shaping the team experience, radiating information, and being change agents for the organization.
- Create a format that works for you to communicate the expectations to your team and others. I chose to create a sketch but whatever approach you choose, there should be no questions or ambiguity. Preferably, this is not a bulleted list in a presentation – take the time to make this memorable and motivating. Personally, I would rather draw this out with stick figures and arrows than to have someone read through another 50-word, 20-pt font slide.
2. Meet with the Product Owners to explain what they should expect from their Scrum Master.
- Share the noble cause. If the team is meeting their sprint commitments and seems to be getting along while doing it, chances are good that the product owner is a happy camper. The Scrum Master is responsible for putting the team in a position to make that happen by living into expectations for their role. Stress the balance between a happy owner and an amazing workplace. For example, if the team starts to get fried-out, there may be times when the planning velocity should be reduced and less work is completed in order to protect the health of the team. The Scrum Master should have a strong feel for the pulse of their team and be driving this discussion with the product owner.
- Get into some of the details. Provide an overview of the details behind each expectation. Explain that retrospectives should provide powerful information for the team to use to self-heal, explain how impediments should be removed in a timely and relentless manner, etc. You will need this information later…
3. Schedule regular sessions with your Scrum Masters individually to deliver ongoing feedback, praise, and encouragement.
- Put reoccurring sessions on the calendars of your Scrum Masters. I let each individual determine how frequently but it is always at least once a month. For some, they prefer once a week while others go bi-weekly or monthly. For those who may be struggling with living into the noble cause and expectations, I will require meeting once a week to provide real-time mentoring until they are back on their feet.
- Be the Chief Encouragement Officer. Generally, this should be a very positive experience for the Scrum Master by focusing on what is working well and the awesome things that are happening within their team and the organization. Do not put them in a position to dread this meeting. If you have feedback for them, share it by providing the necessary context with a touch of coaching. Don’t lecture, let them figure it out.