This is part 2 of the series. Read “Part 1” for the context.
Problem #2: Scrum Masters are not empowered to make decisions
The problem statement is that the Scrum Masters are not given authority to make decisions to do their job well. Scrum Masters are not being trusted by the management nor they are respected by their team members.
This could happen due to the problem #1 I discussed in the earlier post. If the management doesn’t care about doing Scrum right, they may not empower the Scrum roles. Since we already talked about this point, lets discuss what else could be the reason.
In India, organizational structures are very hierarchical and once an employee gets certain experience, they need to climb up the ladder. So, the team members are at the lowest level and then comes team lead, manager etc. Scrum Master role is considered to be a team member level and usually someone with relatively less experience is hired into the role. The management is usually not comfortable letting them make the decisions since they are not confident that the Scrum Master can make such decisions.
Other scenario is that often Scrum Masters have lesser career experience than many of their team members (like developers, testers etc.). So the Scrum Masters are seen as junior members of the team and are given lesser weight to what they say. These problems are predominantly seen in newer Scrum Teams where the culture used to be that a Team Lead or a Manager usually made the decisions.
Regardless of the situation, I feel that the responsibility of building trust falls on to Scrum Master himself or herself. A Scrum Master won’t get empowerment or respect over night just because they got the role. They need to prove themselves to be trustworthy and eventually the team and the management start listening to them.
Being a Scrum Master on a new Scrum team is a long journey before you fully enjoy your rights!