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What are 3 things I should do on day one as a scrum master?

In my experience, there’s a great formula you can follow regardless of whether it’s your first day as a scrum master or just your first day at a new job as a scrum master.


The scrum team you will be working with have no doubt been working together for a while before you arrived.

They will have things that just make sense and other areas that are open to improvement.

Your job in the first few weeks is to observe as much as you can and learn as much as you can about how things work, who the people in your team are, and how they like to collaborate and create together.

It isn’t on you to come into the environment and set things to right.

It is highly unlikely that you are walking into an environment that is completely broken and in desperate need of your help so take the time to observe what is working, why it works, and who the strong team players in the environment are.

Follow the same process when it comes to observing the organisation at work.

You’re going to be working with people outside of your scrum team and it takes a little time to get to know who everybody is and how they contribute to the success of both the scrum team as well as the organisation.

Use the time to learn how things are done and ask questions to help you understand how you can slot into the working elements seamlessly.

You’re also going to be asking questions to understand what needs your attention and how you can effectively contribute to both the team and the organisation moving forward.

Your primary objective is to learn as much as you can before you begin to bring your magic to the equation.

Do this and you’ll earn the respect of those around you because they will observe that you are approaching the new environment with respect, patience, and a desire to learn as much as you can before bringing your own ideas and recommendations to the table.


I like to find out who the top 5 most important people I should speak to are in the first couple of days.

I then reach out to the most important person I need to speak to and set an appointment to connect with them.

Often, I’ll look to take that meeting outside the workplace at a coffee shop or internal coffee shop if the organisation has one.

I’ll start by asking questions about the environment and where they feel a contribution is most needed. I’ll also ask questions about what is working, why it’s working, and how that individual sees success within the organisation.

I’ll take the time to explore what makes that individual tick and what their perspective on the team as well as the organisation is.

What do they think works? What do they think needs work? How did they achieve success in the environment?

I’ll also make use of the opportunity to ask that person who they think I should speak to next.

Who do they think I would most benefit from talking to and what they feel I should focus on in that meeting?

I always finish these meetings by asking for a warm introduction to the person or people they recommend I speak to so that the person I engage with isn’t being approached randomly by someone they don’t know.

A warm introduction goes a long way to setting the tone for a great engagement with that individual and I’ll follow the same process with that individual as I move my way through the team and the organisation.

In this way, you slowly but steadily build a network.

Getting things done in organisations requires the help of other people and the best way to get their help is by developing and nurturing relationships with those people.

Make it a goal to grow your network and build relationships inside and outside of the scrum team.

You want your relationships to be as diverse as possible and as wide-ranging as possible.

Everyone from the developer on the 2nd floor to the IT Director in the C-Suite.

Build your network with care and attention and you’ll quickly see the benefits of being the person that everyone knows on a first name basis.

Host a great retrospective

A sprint retrospective is one of the more important events in the Scrum canon.

It is a great opportunity to really identify what is working, how the team can improve, and what the team value most.

Hosting a great retrospective positions you as a professional that is both creative and collaborative.

It helps get you off on the right foot and earn the respect of your development team.

Make sure that the retrospective is fun, engaging, and creative.

You really want the team to engage and share. You want them to open up and reveal what most matters to them and why.

There are a host of great books, articles, videos, and online resources to help you host a great sprint retrospective so take some time to research ideas or go back through your notes to identify which of your previous retrospectives proved the most valuable and popular with your scrum team.

If you are a brand new scrum master and have never hosted a great retrospective before, reach out to experienced scrum masters and agile coaches to ask them for ideas and recommendations.

Their expertise and experience will go a long way to helping you make your retrospective memorable and valuable to your scrum team.

Hosting a great retrospective will help you make a positive first impression on your scrum team and help you build new relationships within the team. Relationships that will be crucial to your success as a scrum master.

In my opinion, these are the 3 most valuable things you can do in your first days as a scrum master.

Observe. Connect. Host a great retrospective.

If you like the idea of becoming a scrum master, visit our Certified Scrum Master course page.

If you are already a scrum master and want to upskill, visit our Advanced Certified Scrum Master course page.

If you have several years’ experience as a scrum master and want to both validate and certify your professional skills, visit our Certified Scrum Professional Scrum Master course page.

If you like the idea of mentored and coach-driven skills development, visit our Agile Coach Academy.

If you have identified coaching as a valuable skill to develop, visit our on-demand Introduction to coaching course page.

For more information on John McFadyen, visit