What not to do with your scrum master

Benjamin De Point

VP of Engineering at Olly Olly



"In one of my previous engineering teams, I promoted someone to the role of scrum master. As I thought he could do a better job, I decided to attend a retro meeting. It seemed that my presence made everyone quiet."

Actions taken

"I decided to lead the way and asked what went well during the last sprint and what didn't. At some point, my scrum master politely suggested that I should be quiet. I didn't listen and kept leading the meeting the way I wanted. This event (and others) impacted this person's legitimacy a lot amongst the team."

Lessons learned

"I believe a scrum master's role is to facilitate and fulfill the needs of the team to help the Product Owner. Management is counter to the ideas and goals of scrum. Scrum is based on ceremonies (retros are one of them), and by interfering, I created a situation that held them back."

From my experience, the scrum master's roles are:

  • to help the team become self-organized
  • team building/building relationships
  • educating the organization about scrum
  • notifying managers when they are creating an anti-pattern

"In this type of system, the manager's role is to build a relationship with the scrum master, in order to get information about the individuals, such as: 'An IC is not contributing' or 'People are not engaged in the scrum ceremonies'. This information is useful, as it can the be used during one-on-ones."

"Finally, as a result of the last scrum master bullet point above, I believe that the scrum masters should not report to a manager. Instead, they should be able to tell their manager what to do and what not to do. However, this can be tricky in a hierarchical relationship."

Be notified about next articles from Benjamin De Point

Benjamin De Point

VP of Engineering at Olly Olly

Connect and Learn with the Best Eng Leaders

We will send you a weekly newsletter with new mentors, circles, peer groups, content, webinars,bounties and free events.


HomeCircles1-on-1 MentorshipBounties

© 2024 Plato. All rights reserved

LoginSign up