10 Important Soft Skills for a ScrumMaster Career
3 April 2017
Change can sometimes be a difficult road to navigate. Changing careers can feel overwhelming and daunting. However, with hard work and persistence, it can also be a rewarding experience. I have successfully changed careers. I am currently an Agile Coach working on large enterprise transformations for Fortune 500 organizations in a variety of industries from banking and insurance to media and education. The most important skills I used to help me with my career change were my soft skills. For a successful career change to ScrumMaster, you'll need ten essential soft skills.
Making the switch
My career started as a teacher, and then I moved on to become an education administrator. When I left the education field, I changed careers to become a project manager. As I evolved in this career, I worked on projects handled in Agile frameworks, such as extreme programing and Scrum. This is when I began my journey to becoming Agile.
There are as many similarities among industries as there are differences when you are changing careers. Use those similarities to help you in your new career. The soft skills that are required in many careers can and do translate to others. Coming from a background that was not business or technology-focused, I faced opposition when trying to land my first role. In my transition, I felt it was important to remain upbeat and persistent and to demonstrate the soft skills I already possessed that would be useful in my new career.
Top 10 soft skills for a career change to ScrumMaster
You'll need the following soft skills or qualities to make a successful transition to the ScrumMaster role.
My previous role in education required me to discuss my ideas and plans with a variety of people. I also had to deliver messages to many audiences and construct those messages in a way that would be beneficial to each audience. This translates well to the project management and ScrumMaster role, in which communication is a major part of your duties. You often have to deliver messages to your team, the customer, and the enterprise. You will have to customize the message to each target audience.
As important as it is to deliver messages to a variety of groups, it is just as important to accurately receive those messages by listening and sometimes observing the behavioral cues of the different audiences. Being empathetic and a good listener are valuable soft skills for a ScrumMaster.
Persistence is an important skill to successfully change careers, and it is a crucial and useful skill as a ScrumMaster. Removing impediments, organizing meetings for your team, and at times just getting everyone to attend those meetings takes persistence. Since changing careers alone takes a lot of persistence, tap into that drive that helped you with your change to keep the momentum going to obtain your goal and use it in your job.
Facilitating discussions and meetings between parties is one of the skills required to be an effective ScrumMaster. You will need to coordinate and facilitate the Scrum rituals for your team and help them use Scrum to its fullest potential.
This is not so much a skill but an attribute or quality to have in any job you do. As a ScrumMaster, it is important that your team and the business know they can count on you. You are human, and you are not perfect, but you have to demonstrate that you can be relied upon. If you make a mistake, own up to it and work to fix it.
This is a valuable skill that translates well across many industries. As a ScrumMaster, you must ensure that many of the processes that support Scrum operations within your team exist and are being used to their fullest potential. You will own the tracking of the teams' progress through the use of Scrum artifacts.
Servant leadership means helping teams work toward their best selves. It involves a lot of mentoring, coaching, training, and encouraging teams to build on their strengths and eliminate their weaknesses. Whether it has been in your past career or in your personal life, think of ways you have done this and draw from those experiences to use in your role as ScrumMaster.
It's important to be optimistic. As a ScrumMaster, make sure that your team maintains a high morale. Help them to see the bright side of things; it improves their work.
Collaboration is important for a Scrum Team. As a ScrumMaster, create an environment that invites collaboration and champion collaborative behavior. This is a skill you might have used in your previous career or personal life. Draw from those experiences and use them as a ScrumMaster.
Be open to change. The fact that you are changing careers shows how open to change you are. This is an important skill when becoming Agile. It is human nature to fear change and the unknown. As a ScrumMaster, you can help your team to be open to the changes that they will face as they adopt an Agile culture. A good mindset to adopt is to become comfortable with being uncomfortable.
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