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Phrases to Avoid as a Scrum Master

Updated: Jul 18, 2023

Scrum Master is now the well-known and common term used in the product and development circle. Up till now, we have all heard about what responsibilities scrum masters have, and what they should do to develop and lead their teams towards success. How they should carry out their roles etc. We also have studied the mistakes they should avoid in their role. All the mistakes, responsibilities, etc. everyone explains beforehand in every job and role. But this will be the first time we will be learning about the phrases scrum master must avoid using in their career path.

Scrum master

As the saying goes, “Say not always what you know, but always know what you say.”

One must be aware of the impact his words are going to make. Being a scrum master the words they say plays an important role in their responsibility as they can motivate the team as well as discourage them. The successful scrum master must know what to say as well as they must also know what not to say.


Getting started with the Phrases not to say:


It’s not my job to do it

This is the most commonly heard phrase in the teams. When someone is busy and full with his work, or if he’s sure the work asked doesn’t belong in his assessment they mostly say ‘it’s not my job.’ Even though this is technically right but it even indicates a different meaning as saying I’m not here to do your job and don’t bother with the team's need when I’m working on my assignment. When a scrum master says such a phrase team gets highly demotivated. So instead of using this phrase scrum master must politely ensure the member that they are busy with something write now so they will come to them for this once available.


We have tried that before

This is the second most used phrase in teams even by team members along with scrum masters. Referring to this phrase, most times indicate that you are trying to avoid the work suggested. While discussing some issue or process in work meetings, while some solution is given and you don’t want to elaborate it or don’t want to work on it due to extra effort this phrase we have tried that before is used. It completely blocks the discussion on the suggested topic considering there is no point in discussing it. It may be that you have tried it before but you can describe the issues it carried, making others aware of why it’s not the right solution. In not tried case you can discuss it further and may come up with an unaware strategy defining you as a hardworking and trusted scrum master.


What’s your status update for today?

Daily stand-ups or daily scrums are not the meetings arranged to get the daily status update from the team they are for the quick issue and their solution discussions for ensuring further plans are achievable. When scrum masters ask for status daily it indicates trust issues of scrum master with the team. It will also affect the sentiments of members about their tasks as they will not consider it as their responsibility but as the scrum master's responsibility. It’s better to solve and discuss issues ensuring the goals will be achieved on time in daily stand-ups. This at own will ensure that team completes their tasks at hand on time.


I’ve told you so

I told you so is the most immature and disrespectful comment given to anyone. So as a scrum master and teams leader they should know it’s not the right way to lead. This phrase shows arrogance in scrum master instead of showing its supportive and empathetic nature. So it’s better to be supportive and understanding when they fail by ignoring your recommendation if not then be quiet and better not say anything.


That doesn’t follow scrum

As scrum is a framework there are some rules which need to be strictly followed but there are also some which can be amended as per requirements. So scrum masters saying, ‘that doesn’t follow scrum’ is just a phrase and not the required one. They must be ready to customize the methodology as required.

The overall study we have done on Scrum till now proves that “Scrum is more about behavior than it is about the process.” So it is better to change the mindset about agile and be open to changing not only our methods but also our behavior and phrases.


About Advance Agility We, at Advance Agility, are the new-age Agile Coaching, Consulting and IT services company. We enable end-to-end Digital Transformation. Agile execution is integral to our being. We are doing SAFe implementation with small, medium and large organization across the globe. Our vision is to be the leading Agile execution player globally. To keep adding value at every process stage. We are on a mission to empower our clients, move from concept to cash in the shortest sustainable lead time by adopting a human-centric approach to business agility. Embracing the change is in our DNA. Things that keep us apart are Quicker and Seamless execution with an End-to-end gamut of services. Our Global presence and Stellar Track Record give us an edge over our competitor. Connect with us at advanceagility.com to learn about SAFe and SAFe Implementation. Write to us at contact@advanceagilty.com for any agile training or consulting needs. We are always looking for competent agile trainers as well. So if you are a good trainer or want to become one, do get in touch with us to that we can learn, grow and achieve together.


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