Let Go — My Scrum Master
A dilemma no one wants to be in
Rohit Ratan Mani
Isn’t it tough to decide when do you let go of your support to the team? It is not an easy decision.
I’ve been teaching my kid how to ride his bike and I was faced with the same dilemma. When I introspected, I realized the emotional journey I went through. Hopefully, by the end of this article, you can see the relevance to your role of a Scrum Master or Agile Coach.
While working with my son, I played different roles during the journey:
- Teacher: I taught him the basics steps that he needs to do. Telling him why he should pedal, how to manoeuvre the bike around, the importance of using the bell and brakes.
- Mentor: After taking the stabilizers away, he seemed to be scared and that is when I changed my role to a mentor. I shared my experience of how I learnt to ride a bike. I shared my failures, my fear and the rewards when I succeeded.
- Facilitator: Every evening of the summer I took him to the ground nearby and helped him to create his space where he practised.
- Coach: I helped him identify what he could do to learn how to ride a bike. This was a fun conversation. I was able to motivate him to achieve his goal of going out for a bike ride with us.
Being a coach was a tough role as a father. My inner fears of him falling and getting hurt really hampered my act of being an effective coach. First few days I walked beside him while pedalled around the ground with a stabilizer.
After taking the stabilizers off, I ran with him holding the bike and making sure he could balance properly. Our relationship and trust really helped him to take this step. This continued for some time and I was literally tired after these sessions.
I was not letting him go and as a result I was slowing him down
The next day, I made up my mind and let go of him and he realized it in few seconds. He stopped and with a distrust voice asked me not to do that again. I had built a dependency. My inner coach kicked in and had a heart-to-heart discussion on how well he did without me holding on. I gave him reassurance of being there to help him when he faces any issue. This was as tough as a father. But I let go of my fear and that helped me step out of my comfort zone.
This time when I let go, he did not stop. He looked back at me and gave a smile. He fumbled thereafter but no harm is done. We continued practising and now he only asked to be helped when he felt like.
Did I let go of him? Was he ready for every situation?
When he got comfortable with riding in the practice ground my goals evolved as a teacher to help him ride the bike outside. The journey continues and the better he gets the better I need to be as a teacher, mentor, facilitator and coach.
Taking this learning from my personal life to my work environment, I have experienced teams still asking their Scrum Masters or Coaches on what to do in their daily work and the Scrum Masters continuing with the same stance.
With the relationship and trust that we build with the team, we create a parent-child kind of relationship with the team. The team (Child) keeps looking for support and safety and we Scrum Master/Coach (Parent) keep providing that. This transaction will never end till someone becomes self-aware of what is going on.
Thinking of myself working with a team, I go through a similar journey. I try to be self-aware of not getting in a transactional mode with the team. I don’t have a silver bullet to identify when is the right time to let go. I keep using different stances to help team transform and those signs help me make that decision.
To end this story, I do have another goal to help my son achieve. And my journey continues as a father, coach, mentor, teacher and facilitator. All the best to all Scrum Masters and Coaches who take this decision.
Rohit Ratan Mani
I am a life coach working as an Agile Coach supporting individual, teams and organisation in transforming.