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5 ways to be a great Scrum Master – Duncan Halley's Blog Skip to main content

5 ways to be a great Scrum Master

Even the best Scrum Masters can often find ways to improve themselves, the team and the product. Below are a few tips that might help you become a better Scrum Master. Let me know in the comments what you think of these tips and feel free to add your own.

Listen to understand, not to reply

Listen, Understand, Act by Steven Shorrock / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply

– Stephen R Covey.


Most people only listen to others so that they can respond and get their own point across. This doesn’t allow the speaker to be truly understood, which might be vital to solving their problem or helping them. To be a true servant leader Scrum Master, you must put your own priorities at the bottom of the queue when listening to a team member. Only when you have fully understood someone’s issue, can you begin to help them.


Check in not just to find out about progress, but to become aware of impediments so they can be removed.

A great Scrum Master can check in with staff to get a progress update, without micro managing them. While getting an update of progress is fine, go further by offering to remove any impediments that may exist.


Celebrate and showcase the team’s success

A great Scrum Master ensures that the whole organisation knows about the team’s successes and the effort that was required by them to achieve that success. This not only motivates the team, but it also highlights the benefits of Scrum to the organisation. This is especially useful where the organisation has just started its agile journey and is expecting to see the benefits of it.

As Scrum Master, remember that you helped the team achieve their success, but they achieved it.


Get out and about to remove impediments

It’s easy for people to ignore the emails you send to them, but it’s more difficult to ignore you when you’re stood right next to their desk. When you need to remove an impediment, sometimes it can be more effective to go and see someone in person. Not only should you get a more prompt answer, but you’ll get an insight into their situation – perhaps they are facing an issue which in turn means that they can’t help with your issue.


sailboatHave a variety of Retrospective techniques

To ensure that Scrum Retrospectives don’t get stale, it’s important for the Scrum Master to have a variety of techniques/formats for conducting this meeting. Whether it’s Start, Stop and Continue; the Sailboat or something a little different such as Lego models or the Constellation Game, having a variety of formats not only keeps the Retrospective fun and engaging, but also provides opportunities for all team members to express their views.

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