Effective Solutions Through Partnership

How to Improve Teamwork With Scrum

Agile, Certified ScrumMaster (CSM), Sacramento, Scrum

By Nick Sherrell, MBA, CSM, PMP

“Done!” I shouted as I closed the lid to my laptop after another 4-hour break-free session of hammering out analytics. I looked at my watch…5:30pm. I turned to give my officemate a high-five for another successful day before heading out, but he didn’t feel like getting out of his bed in the living room…and I didn’t have any treats to convince him.

Yes, my officemate used to be a Golden Retriever. When I worked from home, I often didn’t see another human until 6pm when my family walked in the front door of my office (uhh, house).

Today’s technology has empowered a whole new workplace that cuts the cord from the traditional brick and mortar office where everybody sits under the same roof and drinks from the same water cooler. We have more freedom to work remotely and from wherever we can get a good Wi-Fi signal.

However, this comes with another challenge. How do we grow and maintain relationships with our teammates, supervisors, or those we supervise (who likely don’t have four legs and a tail like my officemate)? After all, good relationships with colleagues is often listed in top 10 lists of job satisfaction indicators, often within the top five.

Scrum is here to help!

The scrum framework provides a structure of effective meetings that requires frequent communication, clear roles, and collaboration to get work done. Its self-organizing approach allows co-working relationships to develop naturally, without having to lean heavily on team-building exercises that often make introverts anxious.

Here are five ways a scrum approach can help your team work better, together:

  1. Sprint planning sessions require collaboration and teamwork to set and focus on a shared goal.
  2. Daily scrum stand-ups allow for consistent face-time (even if done virtually) to provide the space needed to allow teammates to get to know each other, build trust in each other’s’ skills, and build a dynamic that learns how to tactically remove an obstacle by reaching for a helping hand.
  3. A good scrum master’s ability to remove impediments curbs many misunderstandings that often lead to hurt feelings and fractured relationships within a team.
  4. Sprint reviews give a team that feeling of completion, and a frequent reason to celebrate delivering value.
  5. Sprint retrospectives allow for shared learning, celebration of best practices, empathizing with struggles, and a chance to innovate and co-design a better sprint for the next round.

Of course, scrum won’t solve all your problems—it never did teach my officemate to open the door to the backyard—but it can help you establish good working relationships with your coworkers (even virtually) so you can maintain a sense of teamwork wherever you choose to plug in your laptop!

Interested in learning more about KAI Partners’ scrum training sessions? Visit academy.kaipartners.com

About the Author: Nick Sherrell is a Project Manager with over 10 years of healthcare experience ranging from Quality, Performance Improvement, Technology Implementation, Data Analysis, and Consulting. Nick has worked with organizations ranging from the Sacramento Native American Health Center, Kaiser Permanente, Sutter Health, Blue Shield of California, and The Advisory Board Company. He currently works for KAI Partners, Inc as a Project Manager Consultant on a Public contract with the State of California. He received his MBA from UC Davis in 2015 with an emphasis in Organizational Behavior and Innovation. He became a Certified ScrumMaster in 2018 through Scrum Alliance training offered at KAIP Academy. He lives in Sacramento with his wife, two children, and former officemate Emma (Golden Retriever). Find Nick on LinkedIn here.

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