If you are hiring a ScrumMaster or Agile Coach, Resume keyword searches for won’t find the right person for your teams, and your organization.
Start thinking about the work, the role, the team, and the job.
First, I considered the qualities, preferences, and skills. Second, I thought about the sort of knowledge and understanding that’s essential for the role. Then, I identified elimination factors. Those are the patterns of thought and behavior that eliminate a candidate from consideration.
Obviously, you can’t ask yes/no questions for any of the characteristics on this table. But, using behavioral interview questions and auditions, you can get a good indication.
|Quality||R/D||Preference||R/D||Skill||R/D||Demonstrated Understanding||R/D||Elimination Factors|
|Initiative||R||Working in a team environment||R||Team coaching||R||Agile values, principles, methods, practices||R||Directive|
|Flexibility||R||Finds satisfaction in helping others succeed.||R||Facilitation||R||Team and group dynamics||R||Defensive|
|Optimism||R||Agile practices||R||Working thru influence||D||Judgmental|
|Resilience||R||Ability to explain the "why" behind agile practices||R||Low threshold for frustration|
R = Required, D = Desirable
After I had a handle on the skills, qualities, and characteristics, I could think about the context. I considered the interactions, activities, and deliverables involved with the job.
|Who interacts with this person?||Team members|
Manager(s) associated with team members
|Secondary role||Integration with other agile teams|
|Secondary role||Organizational change agent|
|Management component||Manage his/her own impediment backlog|
|Job grade level (consider pay and message to the organization)||For purposes of pay level, look at interactions and scope.|
|Activities||Coach one or more teams. |
Ensure team enabling conditions are in place.
Create or advocate for those conditions if they are not in place.
Facilitate team meetings (e.g., sprint planning, sprint demo, retrospectives, decision making meetings, etc.)
Ensure that information radiators are up to date.
Develop additional team radiators to address issues unique to the team.
Advocate for the team (e.g., block unnecessary meddling)
Help the team see their own process and improve their processes.
Coach on agile practices
Guide the team in adapting process to fit the local reality w/o losing the intent.
Coach on interpersonal and collaboration skills.
Coach on technical practices
Use influence skills to remove impediments
Transfer knowledge and skills to team members so the team becomes more self-sufficient.
Up-to-date team radars
|Essential Qualities and Preferences||Initiative, flexibility, optimism, determination, resilience|
Working in a team environment, supportive, not cowed by authority
|Desirable Qualities and Preferences||Detachment, discernment|
Able to navigate conflict
|Essential non-technical skills||Coaching, interpersonal skills, Agile practices|
|Desirable non-technical skills||Facilitation, influence|
|Essential technical skills||Depends on which team the coach will work with|
|Desirable technical skills||Depends on which team the coach will work with|
|Minimum experience||One year coaching a team. Two years working with an agile team|
|Demonstrated understanding of:||Coaching|
Agile values, principles, methods, practices
Team and group dynamics
Working through influence
|Cultural fit factors||This is in some ways a cultural change role. The candidate must fit the desired cultural pattern, but not be so far from the current culture that he's rejected.|
|Elimination factors||Preference for directing others, defensiveness, judgmental attitude, low threshold for frustration|
What you look for in an agile coach or Scrum Master will be different. Each team has different needs for coaching. One team may need more (or less) help with specific engineering practices. Another team may need more support with retrospectives or planning. The key is to approach hiring a ScrumMaster o Agile Coach as you would any other important role. ScrumMaster or Agile coach are not a plug-and-play roles. Hire based on your teams and your organization.