In a traditional waterfall-style project management environment, people working on a project or creating a product have been assigned work by a project manager and have clear deadlines for delivery.
In many cases, the project manager may tell people how to do the work and what tasks they need to focus on for that week.
For some people, that’s a great thing and allows them to work through a checklist; for others, it may chafe and create resentment that festers over time. It depends on who you are and what you value in your career.
The project manager holds a great deal of authority, and together with project sponsors, project stakeholders, and senior managers, they can hire and fire people as they see fit.
In this kind of environment, compliance, obedience, and diligence win the day.
If you want to succeed at your job (at best) or keep your job (at worst), you will need to keep your head down and do as you are told. You will also know how the organization deals with grievances and conflict in the workplace and understand that command and control style paperwork and processes will govern that experience.
In an Agile environment, things work somewhat differently.
A scrum master has no real authority and does not have the power to force anyone in the team to do anything. They use influence, coaching and mentoring to achieve specific objectives and outcomes rather than cracking a whip to ‘drive’ outcomes.
They work in an environment where the teams they serve are experts in their field and operate as a collaborative and autonomous group of people, aligned with agile values and principles within a lightweight framework to help them navigate and thrive in complex environments.
Psychological safety ensures that every team member has a voice that needs to be heard, respected, and valued. That doesn’t mean that people are always right or that their line of reasoning is correct; it simply means that we interrogate those arguments openly, honestly, and respectfully.
So, what do you do when conflict arises in the scrum team? How does a scrum master manage that conflict and help the team resolve that conflict in a way that leads to continuous improvement and high performance?
This week’s newsletter is dedicated to helping you do exactly that.
In this short video and supporting article, I outline why conflict in a scrum team is great and provide pragmatic, actionable steps to help you resolve the dispute. Let me know your thoughts and whether this helps you in your role as a scrum master.
“One of the things that you have to get used to as a Scrum Master is conflict.
Many people think it’s terrible, so they shy away from it. But like any relationship, if you avoid conflict and don’t address them with open and respectful conversations, the feelings slowly sink beneath the surface and begin to fester.
Over time, those issues will surface, and they will happen at a time when you least expect it or want it to arise.
Things are going to blow up. People are going to get into arguments. People are going to resent one another. There will be bigger problems to deal with than if you had dealt with the conflict at the time it arose.
It’s best to deal with conflict in the moment and to do so effectively.” – John McFadyen
Watch the full video ‘How does a scrum master manage conflict in a scrum team’
A Question For You
What is a great example of conflict resolution that you have witnessed in the workplace, and how has that informed how you approach conflict within your scrum team?