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So I work for an organization in a large company (for a little bit over a year) and recently the scrum master of our team has been promoted to manager so he is now a manager. This led to an open role inside our team of scrum master and one of my coworkers and I were the primary options for it.

I am in charge of another 2 roles inside the team while the other person isn't in charge of any (apart from another third person whom I don't know why he wasn't an option for the role) and I have also been assigned this role. While normally I wouldn't mind getting more responsibilities, I mind in this case as this is not the path which I want my career to follow.

I am personally someone that do not like organizing things as I can barely organize myself. I also do not know anything about scrum more than what I have seen in the past year.

My question is, how (if I should) can I tell my manager that this is not the career that I would like to follow?

marked as duplicate by Jim G., T. Sar - Reinstate Monica, Snow, Rory Alsop, DarkCygnus Mar 16 '18 at 22:11

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  • Have you considered that your manager may trust you more than your coworker? Why are you assigned all of these roles, while this other person is not assigned any? – AndreiROM Mar 9 '18 at 20:42
  • @AndreiROM I have and I think that everyone in our team is capable of doing it. And I dont have an answer for the second question, I would have to ask him directly. – Moe Szyslak Mar 9 '18 at 20:47
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    You have to consider the fact that your manager may envision you as his right hand man / management material, and wants to train you for a more important role. In other words, you're going to have to be very careful about passing off this role. If, however, he's giving it to you simply because he doesn't like the other person then it may be a little bit easier. I think that information would impact the approach you could use to have that conversation with your boss. – AndreiROM Mar 9 '18 at 21:03
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    Is it normal to have these roles thrust upon team members? The first rule of Scrum is that the team makes the choices. – Erik Mar 9 '18 at 21:08
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    You can tell it either verbally or written mail. – I am the Most Stupid Person Mar 12 '18 at 8:55
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If you are sure about your decision, sit down with your manager and be honest.

AndreiROM raised a good point about whether or not this is the right decision, but the decision is ultimately yours to make. If you are sure that this is the right answer, the path forward is clear: Be honest with your manager.

Schedule a meeting with your boss to sit down face to face (if possible) and talk about your decision. Explain to her/him in the same way you have explained to us, that you see your career taking a different path, but make sure to express your commitment to the team. Would you be willing to take on the role temporarily while they find a better fit? If so, say so.

  • I think this is the right direction. I would add that before giving the actual decision, I would explain what it means to me to take the position, i.e. "I think that being a good scrum master requires a specific set of skills and means interacting with the team members in more of a coaching capacity. It also means being less involved in the practical side of developing the product. I currently lack some of those skills and acquiring them isn't a part of the career path I have in mind for myself" etc. etc.. – Cronax Mar 13 '18 at 12:25
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Tell your manager you appreciate the nice compliment, but you don't think you're the best fit for the role.

If there is someone else you recommend, do that. This opens the door to discuss why you may not be the best choice, and shows you care about what's best for the company overall. It also avoids the perception that you're only interested in doing things you want to do, or that you prize your career about everything and everyone else.

Don't talk about your future career aspirations. Provide examples of how your lack of organization would create real problems with the scrum master role today. If your manager feels your interests are the same as theirs they will be much more receptive to your message.

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This may be a terminology issue, and the job you're really being asked to do is not scrum master but project manager, in which case this answer won't apply. (That is, unless your boss really does want to be doing agile and just has made a mistake in how it's being implemented.)

Agile teams, at least in certain forms of agile, usually do not slot people into specific roles but implement practices that let a team that as a whole successfully fulfill their responsibilities. There will often be a coach who helps the team do this, but a coach's job is to help the team do the work, not do the work themselves.

Thus, being a scrum master does not necessarily mean you need to organize everything, or even much of anything at all. As is clear from this description of a scrum master's role, some organizations do see it as a coaching role rather than a project manager role. (This is a view I completely agree with; I think that a team with project managers, even if they're named "scrum masters," is not really an agile team.)

As an example of how this works, let's look at what would happen if someone decides or notices that a story isn't being properly tracked. The coach, rather than doing the tracking herself, would instead find the person who is supposed to be tracking it (often the one to whom the story is assigned, even if they're not doing the majority of coding on it) and work with him to improve how he's handling the tracking of the story. If nobody's taken responsibility for tracking that story, the coach would sit down with the whole team and discuss who should be tracking it and how. In a case like this, it's actually important for the agile process that the coach not do the work herself, because that doesn't help the team as a whole learn to do what it needs to do.

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Step 1: Determine exactly what the role of "scrum master" is, according to your manager. Different people may have very, very different assumptions.

Step 2a: If it is just what the role of the scrum master should be, that's not particularly time consuming, and not particularly difficult. And can be easily passed on to someone else. You decide if you want to do it long term or not. I'd suggest you could tell your boss that you can take on the role preliminary, but will be looking for someone to replace you when possible.

Step 2b: If the job is more than what the role of scrum master should be, more a managerial role that you really don't want, you need to tell your boss that. It's usually not a good idea to give a job to someone who doesn't want it. There are two positive ways to go forward: The boss changes the requirements so we are back at 2a. The boss finds someone else who loves to do the job. And the less positive one that you have to take on work that you don't like, so you have to do your best to cope with it, and if you really don't like it, look for different positions, or look for someone willing to do the job.

  • I think you're severely underestimating the responsibilities of a real scrum master. Unfortunately, you're not the only one, the OP's boss is probably also working on some imaginary, limited definition of the role which might mean the OP can indeed combine it with their existing responsibilities... – Cronax Mar 13 '18 at 12:10

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