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7 Essential Scrum Master skills


Vaishnavi Shah

Published June 22, 2022

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If you are new to the world of project management, you will likely come across the term ‘Scrum Master’. As with most projects and endeavors, you need effective leadership to ensure that all operations run smoothly. For agile teams, Scrum Masters provide that leadership. If you are curious about what they do and the different Scrum Master skills you require for successful product development, here is a guide to help you. Let’s dive in!

What Does a Scrum Master Do?

With 71% of companies adopting Agile, choosing the right methodology is critical. A popular Agile methodology is Scrum. Studies show that 61% of respondents from 76 countries reportedly use the Scrum methodology. It is an iterative approach designed to break down complex projects into sizeable chunks known as ‘Sprints’. Scrum masters ensure that each sprint is productive and organized and provides visibility about your team’s progress. From sprint planning to improving the next iteration, Scrum masters help product owners, team members, and developers perform their best. 

A Scrum Master’s key responsibilities include: 

  • Articulating the goals of each sprint and activity. 
  • Establishing clear expectations from the team members and fostering a good communication cycle. 
  • Facilitating meetings and daily stand-ups to keep track of the team’s progress and address any challenges they face. 
  • Gathering feedback and identifying opportunities on how the team can improve future sprints. 

Scrum Master VS Project Manager: Key Distinctions You Should know

The role of a Scrum master and project manager is distinctly different. But most people use the terms interchangeably. The role of a traditional project manager is broad. They can work on any project, including Agile or Waterfall, and are accountable for managing their team and fulfilling the project objectives. But the role of Scrum Masters is explicitly embedded in a Scrum team. 

While a Scrum Master is concerned with leading a team that successfully implements the Scrum, a project manager will focus on several logical aspects of a project, including staying within the budget, providing proper communication, meeting deadlines, and more. 

Which Are the Top Scrum Master Skills You Should Have?

Not everyone with sufficient knowledge about the Scrum methodology can become a Scrum Master. You need to master technical and soft skills to advance your career into a leadership position. In a market that demands speed and flexibility, here are the top Scrum Master Skills you should have!

  1. Facilitating Change

In his book, Geoff Watts, one of the most respected and experienced Scrum coaches in the world, describes the role of a Scrum Master as a change agent as: 

‘A good Scrum Master helps a Scrum team survive in an organization’s structure. A great Scrum Master changes the culture so that the Scrum Team can thrive.’

By leading and coaching the organization about Scrum adoption and identifying opportunities that increase the team’s productivity, a Scrum Master can create a culture where Scrum teams can flourish. The strength of Scrum is making problems visible, and a great Scrum Master will support and inspire the team members to improve the processes and resolve those problems swiftly. 

  1. Expertise in Project Management Tools

One of the most underrated Scrum Master skills is leveraging project management tools. They should know the best project management tools in the market to get the most out of the Sprint cycles. 

Here’s how using the right Scrum tools can help you in your role: 

  • Track project progress and promote retrospectives: With Scrum tools such as Task Board, User Stories, and more, you can assign tasks and track their progress. These tools also allow you to give and receive feedback, allowing for better retrospectives. 
  • Enabling better transparency for the entire team: The visibility of all the tasks in one place creates better transparency among the stakeholders. 
  • Promoting cross-communication: Platforms such as Slack and Google Meet lets you schedule daily stand-ups, creating a seamless communication flow. 
  1. Excellent Communication Skills

Having good communication skills is essential for keeping your team efficient. During complex projects, you may find that your team’s efficiency is declining due to inevitable and uncontrollable impediments. Creating an atmosphere where everyone can openly share their concerns and have a common understanding of goals and priorities is the key responsibility of a Scrum Master. Being an active listener and motivating your employees can help you resolve any impediments more effectively. 

  1. Organizational Skills

Scrum projects require proper planning, structuring, and effective time management. Your ability to prioritize urgent tasks and make strategic decisions can indirectly affect your team’s productivity. 

This is why Scrum masters should rely on developing their organizational skills to manage multiple deadlines, sprint cycles, and project specifications. Organizational skills are also crucial for proper documentation and assigning tasks to the team members.

  1. A Strong Understanding of the Servant Leadership Model

The main goal of a servant-leadership model is to serve others and help them perform their best. A Scrum Master is a servant-leader whose focus is on the needs of the team members and achieving goals in line with the organization’s values, principles, and business objectives. 

As a servant-leader, the Scrum leader is responsible for: 

  • Leading the team through healthy debates and discussions.
  • Teaching, mentoring and coaching the team members in adopting and using the Scrum methodology. 
  • Encouraging and motivating the team to reach their full potential. 
  • Creating a collaborative culture within the organization. 
  • Shielding the team from disturbances and threats. 
  1. Conflict Management

Scrum teams are made of individuals with differing personalities and ideologies that can clash from time to time and potentially slow down the team's progress. And it can be challenging for the Scrum Master to resolve these conflicts in a way that pacifies everyone. Therefore, Scrum Master must have excellent conflict management skills. They must be an expert negotiator and conversation facilitator to work through disagreements. As a leader, they must also have strong interpersonal skills to find solutions that work for everyone. 

  1. Knowing the Agile Manifesto

Adopting the right culture and mindset is imperative for the success of Agile transformation in your company. By learning the Agile manifesto by heart, you can use the Agile values and principles to empower your team members, start your project with a clear vision, and manage the process with more collaboration and feedback. 

The result? You help create a process that builds partnerships with stakeholders, encourages innovation, and improves business outcomes. 

Advance Your Scrum Master Skills Today!

Whether you want to improve your Scrum Master skills or are contemplating applying for the position, you should know that the role offers multiple growth opportunities. By identifying your strengths and areas for improvement, you can supercharge your career as a Scrum Master and help teams accelerate the implementation of Scrum.

If you have what it takes, you can give your career a boost with our certified training programs. You can learn from experienced industry experts and strengthen your fundamentals to make your sprints more productive. 

Master high-demand skills that will help you stay relevant in the job market!

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