Sunday, June 3, 2018

The Challenging Personalities in the Daily Scrum Meeting |Supreme Agile

Anyone who ever participated in a daily standup knows how difficult and challenging it is to run a good and effective meeting. The challenges can arrive from internal issues such as:
  • Team members coming late or unprepared
  • Team members do not share their real progress
  • Team members arrive at meetings just because they have too, but without any real wish to contribute.
In addition, there are other challenges related to external factors e.g. external managers interrupting the meeting or view it as a status meeting.

The SM must pay attention and be aware of these obstacles.  He must ensure these obstacles are removed in order to allow the team to meet the goal of the meeting. Based on my experience, the external challenges are easier to handle. A good SM will ensure these obstacles are removed from the team (usually after 2-3 meetings).

The internal challenges related to the team itself are more challenging for the SM and can take a long time until they removed. This is dependent on a number of factors e.g. team culture, motivation, commitment an, maturity. 

Now, even without these destructions (Internal/External), it is hard for a group of people to meet every day, at the same time and performing the same ritual daily.

The scrum master should know each team includes various members who have their own personalities and characteristics. This can either help the team grow or can cause many problems.

As the scrum master, you may have seen how these members cause problems during the daily standup, and if you do not know, by the end of this article it will become a lot clearer. 

The Challenging Personalities on Development Team 

The Late Riser

The daily standup usually occurs at the start of the day to allow the team to synchronize and raise their impediments as early as possible. As a result, team members need to focus early in the day. Now for most team members, this request will go through without any problem. However, in some cases, one might find some team members have difficulties remain focus during these times.

Late risers can be easily identified as they arrive late to each standup. Based on my experience, they always arrive the meeting holding a cup of coffee they prepared to start the day.  

Typically, an Agile team is built from 5 to 9 team members. Each member should answer three basic questions during the day. This creates a lot of information for any team member to absorb, especially for a late riser who has difficulty keeping focused in the morning.

Another aspect of the late risers is once the standup ends, they typically do not talk to anyone. They sit in front of their workstations to start working on their tasks. This behavior will not allow the late risers to gather the important information generated after the meeting with the rest of the team. Remember; during the meeting team members share import information extract required action items based on it.

What can the Scrum Master, do to improve this situation? Not much, from my experience, moving the meeting to the later hours of the day will not help the specific team member.  It might actually affect the effectiveness of the meeting. Therefore, the only thing the Scrum Master can do is to make sure that this specific member will keep their focus during the meeting. This can be done by randomly changing the order of the talkers, the location or changing the way that the meeting is executed (you will become amazed to see that it’s actually working).

The Talker

The agenda of the daily standup is very simple, all one needs to do as a team member is to answer three basic questions that will help the team to synchronize. In addition, the meeting is relatively short compared to the rest of the Agile activities.

These two basic factors can explain why there is no time to waste, but sometimes we have team members who ignore these factors and take time to answer questions (wasting precious time). As a result, this affects both the meeting effectiveness and the time boundaries.

There are many reasons that can lead to this behavior such as:
  • Lack of discipline and focus.  
  • Lack of understanding of the meeting agenda and its goal.
  • Team members with low confidence take the time to share their information.
  • A New teams that have limited Agile experience.
Now, as you already know, it's the Scrum Master’s responsibility to keep the Agile process moving forward and to assist the team improves day after day. In this scenario, the SM should remind the team and the particular member (after the meeting!) the purpose of the Daly meeting.

The Uncommitted Member

If you are the Scrum Master of the team, the daily standup is a great place to see the team progress throughout the process. It is also a place to see those team members who are more committed than others are.

You can recognize the uncommitted team members simply because they do not hide their thoughts and behavior throughout the standup. These members have no considerations about how their behavior may affect the rest of the team.

  • They are unwilling to collaborate with the rest of the team.
  • They consistently interrupt other members talking.
  • They come unprepared with the required answers.
  • They do not reveal the truth about their real progress.

The uncommitted team members are the ones the SM must take care of first and soonest. This is because these members can affect others. Furthermore, it reduces the team's ability to grow as a self-organized team. As the Scrum Master, one should talk with these members and try to understand the reasons for their behavior. You must ensure you assist them to overcome them in a way that will increase their commitments and contribution to the team.

The Blamer

Blamers are just another type of difficult team member who can affect the daily standup. As discussed earlier in the article, the daily standup is the place for the team to discuss and synchronize. There is no room for team members to point fingers at someone else when the work is not progressing, as it should be.

Typically, the blamers are the ones that constantly interrupt the meeting by shift responsibility to others whenever they can. They never take the blame when they encounter problems to meet their commitments. They do not responsible for their mistakes, bad decisions or sometimes even poor performance.

The Scrum Master must recognize these team members. He/she must work with them to remove this negative behavior. The SM must redirect their attention away from blaming others and toward facts that can actually help the rest of the team to understand the problem and collaborate towards finding a solution. 

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