Scrum Masters rely on observational skills, but does that mean we only use vision? What happens when we are all remote? Can we leverage other senses to “observe” how teams are surviving (or thriving)? We may not be able to sit together with our team for a long time and it may never be the same due to the long-term effects of the coronavirus. What skills might we adapt or create for virtual teams? And, how can we still reflect back on the observations so the team can decide how to improve?
First, listening becomes a primary observation skill with online teams. Understanding the words used, tone of voice, and what may not be spoken can tell the skillful Scrum Master other ways to assist their team. Reflective coaching questions help to mirror back the observation. For eg:
- At what point did you notice…..??
- Describe what happened when….??
- Tell me more about...
Second, we may need to make observations about the context surrounding a change to determine how team members are processing the change. Do they have a good balance when they live at work and work at home? Are they in a place to accept help when a change has been forced upon them (e.g., coronavirus forced many out of the office with little warning.) This is where a tool like the Satir Change Model is helpful to explain to the team and then ask each team member to anonymously indicate where they are on the change curve. Rarely will everyone be at the same point on the curve during the change process? It becomes important for the team to be aware of where individuals are with the last change when proposing other changes.
Third, when people learn to reflect back, they may use this new tool too often. Scrum Masters should learn when and how they can create the space for self-learning for the team. Sometimes a Scrum Master consciously taking a step back helps the team to take their own actions in the improvement journey. An observation log becomes another tool for the Scrum Master to notice observations about the team and share it with the team at an appropriate time.
Amplifying our listening, using frameworks like the Satir Change Model, and capturing and sharing observations in a log help remote Scrum Master use the superpower of observation in building high performing team.