How does a Scrum Master build trust with a team? Part I – Basic Rules

Every Scrum Master faces the initial stage of working with a new team. At this stage, the priority is to build trust with the team members. Today, I will share some insights on how to build trust with a new team, which I divided into three parts: rules, mistakes, and tools.

Part I – Basic Rules

Rule #1. Trust yourself

Be confident in your skills and knowledge. The team will sense any uncertainty from the Scrum Master and form an opinion about you from the first few minutes. Be prepared for this. Provide a clear description of where we are going, what our goals are, and what our next steps will be.

Rule #2. Ask the right questions and remember the answers

Team members are proud of their skills and knowledge. Showing an interest in the team’s results and experience is a recognition of their value. Ask questions, demonstrate your sincere interest to the team. Remember the answers given by the team. The trust-building process will be undermined if you are confused at some point and do not remember what you were told. Be careful.

Rule #3. Take responsibility

Mistakes happen. When they do, the task for team members is to take responsibility. Discuss with the team the options for problem-solving, avoiding blaming and punishing individuals. By assuming responsibility, the Scrum Master helps the team focus on productivity.

Rule #4. Integrity and transparency

Be honest and open with the team. Transparent processes and open communication reveal problems and help find effective solutions. Integrity and transparency demonstrate the Scrum Master’s commitment to the joint results. Avoid creating hidden agendas and gossiping. Try not to spread rumors.

Rule #5. Let the team decide

When team members have questions like how to handle dysfunctional processes or which option to choose, X or Y, give the answer: “the choice depends on what will be better for the team.” Give the team freedom of action and teach them to be independent. This demonstration of trust will be reciprocated by the team.

Rule #6. Trust the team

If the Scrum Master does not trust the team, the team will not trust the Scrum Master in return. Demonstrating a lack of trust, saying that trust needs to be earned, does not add points. Distrust begets distrust.

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