Essential Coaching Tips for New Scrum Masters

In this blog, I want to share some practical advice drawn from my own experiences to help you become a better coach and help you to guide your team effectively. From establishing trust to fostering self-organization, these tips will set you on the path.

Embrace Continuous Learning: Agile is always changing, so keep up with the latest trends and techniques. This way, you won’t get stuck using outdated methods that might slow your team down. For instance, I remember when I first started, I made it a habit to read up on new Agile practices every week. This helped me introduce Kanban boards to my team. It significantly improved our workflow.

Establish Trust: Trust is the foundation of any strong team. Be open, listen to your team members, and show that you care about their concerns. I once had a team member who was struggling with others in the team. By taking the time to listen and offer support, I built a stronger bond with the entire team, which led to better collaboration and productivity.

Focus on Value Delivery: Always keep the team focused on the question: what brings value to our customer?  It’s easy to get bogged down in processes that don’t really matter. I recall a project where we were spending too much time on documentation. By shifting our focus to delivering features that the customer actually needed, we were able to meet our deadlines and improve morale.

Encourage Self-Organization: Help your team learn to manage themselves. This not only empowers them but also makes them more capable of handling challenges on their own. I once guided my team to take more ownership in their sprint planning. Initially, it was a bit chaotic, but over time, they became more confident and efficient in managing their tasks.

Facilitate Don’t Dictate: Your job is to guide, not to command. Create a space where the team feels comfortable sharing ideas and working together to solve problems. I remember a project where the team was stuck on a complex issue. Instead of giving them the solution, I organized a brainstorming session. The team came up with a brilliant idea that none of us had thought of individually.

Be Patient: Change doesn’t happen overnight. Give your team time to get used to Agile practices. Celebrate the small victories to keep spirits high and build confidence. I once worked with a team new to Scrum, and it took a few sprints before they really got the hang of it. We celebrated every little improvement, which kept everyone motivated and moving forward.

Use Powerful Questions: Ask questions that make the team think deeply and come up with their own solutions. This not only improves their problem-solving skills but also fosters a culture of continuous improvement. For example, during a retrospective, instead of pointing out what went wrong, I asked, “What can we do differently next time to avoid this issue?” This led to a productive discussion and actionable insights.

Model Agile Principles: Show, don’t just tell. Live the Agile principles in your daily actions. This sets a strong example for your team to follow. I made it a point to always be transparent and open to feedback. When the team saw me practicing these principles, they were more inclined to adopt them as well.

Address Impediments Swiftly: Don’t let obstacles linger. Spot them early and tackle them head-on to keep the team moving smoothly. I remember a time when our team was constantly delayed by a slow code review process. I brought it up in our daily scrum, and we decided to allocate specific times for reviews, which sped things up significantly and kept everyone’s spirits high.

Reflect and Adapt: Take time to think about how you’re coaching. Ask for feedback and be open to changing your methods to better support your team. For instance, I used to run retrospectives in a very structured way, but the team felt it was too rigid. After some feedback, I switched to a more open format, which led to more honest discussions and better ideas for improvement.


Discover deeper insights and practical tips by exploring my Step-by-Step Guide for Scrum Masters.