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How do I stand out as a scrum master?

That’s a common question and an interesting question because it implies that you must do more than be a great scrum master to receive recognition and/or rewards.

The idea that you must do something beyond your job to truly stand out.

As a consultant and coach, I frequently used to be asked this question by mentees.

People were curious as to whether they needed to work harder than the others or work longer hours to truly stand out. The answer is no. Working hard and long hours don’t necessarily make you stand out, especially in environments where working long hours is the expected norm.

Research shows that the longer the hours you work, the worse you become rather than the better you become so I wouldn’t advocate burning the candle on both ends at all.

Research also demonstrates that by working on multiple projects without a singular focus, you are also likely to perform worse than someone who has a strong focus on a single project or team.

Sometimes, you want to demonstrate that you are passionate about the role and are prepared to put in long hours but unfortunately, in working over and above what you are required to do, you are demonstrating that you are incapable of managing your workload effectively and it tends to put you in a poor light rather than the limelight that you may be seeking.

So, instead, what I want you to do as a scrum master is set boundaries.

You work X hours. You work with X team. In the hours that you have, these are the goals and objectives that you are going to accomplish. You do your job well within the timeframes that you have identified.

To stand out as a scrum master you must hold the scrum and agile values and principles as true.

You need to focus on learning and skills development. Go out of your way to read, listen, or watch as much content as you can to begin mastering your craft.

You want to invest in training, both formal and informal, to help you develop your skills rapidly and effectively.

I’m often asked what specifically they should read, watch, or listen to and there isn’t a standard answer to that.

Whilst we do have a recommended reading list that we advocate for our Certified Scrum Master and Advanced Certified Scrum Master courses, the truth is that everyone has unique circumstances and environments.

It’s hard to advocate any one set path, outside of formal training and certification paths such as the Scrum Alliance tracks, because your requirements are going to be very different to other scrum masters who may be working in completely different environments and organisations.

You need to take responsibility for your own skills development by identifying which books, video clips, and articles are best suited for your stage of development.

In fact, it can be incredibly difficult for novice scrum masters to find which resources and tools best work for them. It’s one of the reasons we created the Agile Coach Academy. To create an environment where we can mentor and coach scrum masters and agile coaches as they progress along their journey to mastery.

Being a scrum master is a practice of practices. If you invest in practice and continuous learning, you are going to be growing significantly faster than your colleagues. You are going to be learning what best works for your team and ultimately how you can be of the best service to your team.

You are going to be learning from people who have authored books in the spheres that they have mastered, and you will be growing your arsenal of tools, resources, models, and frameworks that you can use to be more effective as a scrum master in your own working environment.

You’ll be integrating what you have learned into your working environments and actively practicing your craft to the point of mastery.

In a scrum environment, the team take credit for their achievements and the scrum master often goes unnoticed. This will happen a great deal in the beginning of your career but as you grow with your scrum team, they will begin to see you as an exceptional scrum master and agile coach, and that will often then lead to recognition and rewards from others within the organisation.

You stand out by great at what you do.

You stand out by doing the basics incredibly well and through mastering each phase of your team’s development. You learn to work with them to create an environment where others can thrive, and in doing so, you are creating an environment where you can thrive and shine.

Scrum is built on the concept of empiricism. Learning through doing. Continuous development and improvement.

As a Scrum Master your career trajectory will honour that path too. You will learn through doing, and through continuous development and improvement, you will excel in your field as well as in the industry you serve.

How do you stand out? You stand out by doing the basics incredibly well and learning from both your mistakes as well as from your success. You learn and improve with your team and as they achieve their goals and objectives, you will achieve your own career goals and objectives.

Over time, you will receive the recognition you deserve from your team, your organisation and your peers. It’s simply a matter of putting in the hard yards and investing in your own career development as well as in the progression of the teams you serve.

In terms of formal training, I would recommend that you start with the Certified Scrum Master course and progress through the Advanced Certified Scrum Master course to the Certified Scrum Professional Scrum Master course.

That process should take you 2 years.

I would also recommend that you invest in something like our Agile Coach Academy where you are mentored and coached by professional Scrum Masters and Agile Coaches throughout your journey.

For more information on John McFadyen, visit https://www.johnmcfadyen.com

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