As agile approaches continue to spread in organizations, the demand for great Scrum Masters is expected to increase and outstrip what is available in the market. What steps can organizations take to make sure they are hiring the best person for the job? Would a Scrum Master Hiring Guide be helpful?
A Scrum Master Hiring Guide
First things first, what is a Scrum Master? Some of our previous posts were intended to help provide details on the Scrum Master role. This includes Hey Scrum Masters, You’re Not the Jira Lackey!, Highlights of the 2019 Scrum Master Trends Report and Transition from Project Manager to Scrum Master. We also cautioned against simply reassigning Project Managers in Project Managers Make Lousy Scrum Masters.
We have taken another step to help you hire better Scrum Masters with our “Essential Guide to Hiring Scrum Masters”. Fellow agile Coach Tom Cagley and I drafted this eBook based on the questions we have gotten on this topic over the years.
This eBook provides the background and guidance you need to make sure you are planning for and bringing the best people on board. Here is an overview of each of the sections:
In this section, we explore some of the challenges involved in hiring great Scrum Masters. This includes the lack of a career path and job description, the dizzying array of agile and scrum certifications (see The Circus of Agile Certifications), confusion and conflation of the Project Manager, Scrum Master and Agile Coach roles and the hybridization of agile and traditional approaches.
Planning Your Staffing Needs
How many Scrum Masters will you need? That can be a difficult question for managers who are early in the agile adoption process. In addition to some rules of thumb about ratio of teams to Scrum Masters, this section provides an example of how you might calculate the number of Scrum Masters you will need. We also explore pros and cons of growing Scrum Masters from within or hiring them from outside.
Posting Open Scrum Master Positions
In addition to providing a sample job description, this section provides tips on how to post and fill the position including the use of employee referrals and Agile Meetups to locate great candidates. We also recommend being agile in your approach so that great candidates don’t chose to work elsewhere.
Screening and Interviewing Candidates
One of the screening tools that I find to be quick and easy is to check candidates certifications. We did some digging and have documented upwards of 200 different possible agile certifications with a few of them being more highly regarded than others. You can read more about the 200 agile certifications in The Circus of Agile Certifications.
We also provided some tips for conducting both phone interviews and for in-person interviews. Some experts recommend having candidates for Scrum Master roles actually do Scrum Master type work like facilitating a meeting.
Onboarding your New Hires
Onboarding is nearly as important as hiring and can help reduce the learning curve and time that the candidate is not productive. We provided onboarding tips for the first day, week and 90 days. We also explore ways to leverage the fresh perspective and insights newcomers can bring and avoid institutionalizing them to the way things are done around here.
Maintaining Your Organization
Finally, the Scrum Master Hiring Guide provides some tips for ongoing learning and development, or mastery in the role. And we explore how to retain the talent that you’ve built.
A special thanks to Bob Galen and Dan Herman for providing feedback on the Hiring Guide!
Download the Scrum Master Hiring Guide
You can get your copy of the your Scrum Master Hiring Guide here: