Recently I joined a software company, working in an Agile team of 6 people.

The Scrum Master in my team has less software experience than me, but based on his project management and client management skill, the client has asked him to lead this project. Both of us share a common project manager who doesn't interfere in our team daily work.

My Scrum Master is not very supportive. He doesn't like being asked questions, and has said things which actually hurt me. Due to this, I am actually feeling afraid, and I think multiple times before asking him any questions. This is actually hampering my work.

Also, in the technology I am working in, I don't have very good hands on experience, meaning it takes time to complete the job but as I am experienced, he expects me to deliver it early.

How can I handle this?

EDIT : Example of discussions with scrum master :-

  1. If I ask if we want to add this feature, he will say "what did I tell you?", and when I respond, he'll say "If I said what you just told me, then why you are asking me?"

  2. Sometimes if I ask we need to change a certain functionality, he'll say 'of course you have to do this. This is common sense.'

  3. If I asked how to design a feature, he will tell me "think by yourself". and if I do tell him something that we can do this way he will tell me "OK, is that done? And what about if this happens, have you thought about it from this way?"

  4. Sometimes he will told me that I don't know anything, I want it to be done by today.

  • This sounds like multiple questions wrapped up as a bad situation. What to you ask your scrum master and what did he say back to you? You say you lack hands on experience but the scrum master expects you to do better. Can you split this into answerable questions, please? – akton Mar 21 '15 at 6:35
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    You aren't asking him any questions about scrum. What does his being the Scrum Master have to do with any of this? Is he also your team leader or Senior Developer? – user8365 Mar 21 '15 at 9:58
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    I suppose roles are mixed up. If the scrum master doesn't think of himself as team leader or senior developer, the answer to the questions should have been "I'm not your team leader, ask your team leader". So clearly he plays the role of team leader. And as such, his answers are beyond unhelpful. He is trying to put down a team member and seems to succeed (in harming his team members). – gnasher729 Mar 21 '15 at 16:53
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    I know the OP is using the word SCRUM, but I can't help but notice that the problems he is having are categorically unrelated to SCRUM practice. These is a case were coworkers are not getting along and this can happen regardless of what methodology is used in the organization. – teego1967 Mar 22 '15 at 14:39
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    I think the OP needs to be aware that often business will adopt the latest buzzword to try appeal to their developers, without really buying in from the top. – dwjohnston Mar 24 '15 at 3:58

Scrum master in my team has less software experience than me but based on his project management and client management skill client has asked him to lead this project.

That sounds like the organisation implemented SCRUM by having the same old boss-workers-hierarchy and just renamed the "boss" to "scrum master" and now thinks is using SCRUM. It's not.

The guy leading the whole thing is called the product owner. And that's not the same person as the scrum master, or that whole thing will go down the drain. Only the product owner is talking to the client. There is nothing the SCRUM master and the client could talk about.

You need to figure out what you want. If you want SCRUM, there is 3 participants, the product owner (big boss), the team (guys doing the work) and the scrum master. He is neither anyones boss nor a member of the team. His job is to make sure that the scrum process rules are implemented properly.

You may want to read a book on SCRUM to know if it's set up properly.

Based on scrum, your questions were directed at the wrong person. Anything that is a requirement from the client should be clarified by your product owner if you have any questions. Anything related to software development should be clarified by your team if you have questions. If you have questions about the process, about SCRUM itself, feel free to talk to your SCRUM master.

Maybe it would be a good idea to ask who the product owner of your product is. If the scrum master steps up, run. Fast and far. He probably never read the book about SCRUM in the first place.

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    This. Also, in a properly organized scrum, there is no team member over another. The team self-organizes. The scrum master is there to ensure that things like the daily scrum meeting happen, and to facilitate them He's not there to lead anything. – CGCampbell Mar 22 '15 at 13:41

Read the book The No Asshole Rule by Bob Sutton, and then decide if your are working for one. If your boss is such a person:

Short Answer: Find another job and leave.

Longer Answer: Find another job and leave. Because the company trusts your boss, and not you. If it's your boss' words against yours you will lose. And the company obviously has no mechanisms to learn how the boss manages people. If you stay, you are validating that boss' behaviour. That is bad for you. If Human Resources (HR) offers you an exit interview, document the typical interactions as you have done above, and then tell HR that those interactions left you feeling bad. Do not call the boss any names or try to suggest his motives. Just describe the interactions in factual detail only, and tersely state how you felt. And do not accept a counteroffer to stay.

In Sutton's book he talks about a metric called the "Total Cost of Asshole", which measures the financial damage such bosses do to their companies, because employees become angry, depressed, and fearful, and the company suffers productivity losses as a result. Your company cannot learn the need to measure such costs unless people refuse to work for this kind of person.

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    interesting points, but the scrum master is not your boss. It's possible this particular scrum master is rudely (and unsuccessfully) trying to get the OP to realize this. – Kate Gregory Mar 23 '15 at 23:41
  • I've experienced both the obvious, "screaming mean" type and the less obvious "back stabbing loves only sycophants" type. The last one is worse in my book. I confess to yelling at the last one. That doesn't work. Just leave using the guidance Jay gives. – user29416 Sep 22 '16 at 7:11

Sounds like a typical case of bullying to me. You have to be careful in these kinds of situations.

If you have questions regarding functionality and/or features, write them down and give them to the SCRUM master. If your questions regard (major) changes to the product, the product owner must be informed.

Sometimes if I ask we need to change a certain functionality, he'll say 'of course you have to do this. This is common sense.'

From my experience, he'll probably say it in a way that makes you feel dumb, or at the very least insecure. Point out to him that he doesn't have to act like a dick when you're simply asking for confirmation.

The SCRUM master is there to guide the team members and talk to the product owner. He can be seen as a middleman.

Last but not least, as written in other answers, it is possible to leave. But keep in mind: he's making you uncomfortable, and there are a heck of a lot other people who will do just the same. I'm not saying you shouldn't leave, but you can expect a similar situation in the next company (might aswell you never meet anyone like him ever again).

Do not immediatly walk away from problems, but rather try to deal with them. It'll make you stronger, more secure, and more experienced.

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