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I work a software engineer and recently we hired someone to be our scrum master. He works as a contractor. Once I heard him ask a software engineer colleague (that is also a contractor): "When you're not working, you're not writing hours right?"

This scrum master often leaves around 14:00. I assumed it was because he was working half days. But yesterday during a drink night he said he writes his hours as a full day. His argument: "I did all my work and proved my usefulness, so I leave and write a whole day."

I find this extremely unfair. I, as a software engineer, can always do something more. There is always a ticket to pick up. And he probably, that probably has a position that pays more than mine,can just leave?

I don't know what else he can do during the day, but I am sure there is something (like preparing meetings, writing documents or helping the product owner).

Now, I don't want to meddle into his affairs, and it is not really my business, although he's a direct colleague in my team, but I feel resentment towards this situation.

I am wondering what to do next:

  • Should I confront him in private?
  • Should I confront him in public?
  • Should I discuss this with my higher ups?
  • Should I let it slide?

I think the last option is the wisest.

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    As you are doing Scrum, what happens when what you committed to do in the sprint is done? Can the whole team just go home a day or two early? – nvoigt Jun 30 '17 at 7:35
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    IS that behaviour impact your work ? If not the usual answer would be "mind your own business". You write there is always a ticket to picked up, but he's not engineer, he's the scrum master. – Walfrat Jun 30 '17 at 7:35
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    It's a really good question. "What to do when someone sibling to you in the organization is doing something bad?" You're NOT the person's manager, so it's not your business. On the other hand it's costing you money. My only rule of thumb is, if your position is quite senior (even if you're not managing the person), you should report it. If you're quite junior, really it's "not your business". :/ It's a tough one. – Fattie Jun 30 '17 at 11:21
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    Possible duplicate of What can I do to make a coworkers lack of effort more visible? – David K Jun 30 '17 at 12:17
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    @SaggingRufus This one is probably a better duplicate, though the OP in that one can't be 100% sure the coworker is cheating: Should I report a coworker that has inflated their timesheet? – David K Jun 30 '17 at 12:35
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As some people are stating in the comments this is an issue between your Scrum Master and his direct manager.

You should not confront anyone unless you have a good reason. Note, however, that if his absence if preventing you to complete any task or damaging your performance at work whatsoever, then it becomes your problem ,and then you should escalate it (through your own line manager).

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    After the scrum master leaves early, go to his manager and ask, "Have you seen 'Scrum Master Bob'?, He's not anywhere." – DLS3141 Jun 30 '17 at 15:21
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    @DLS3141 Unless the scrum master is actually needed at work I don't think this should be done. I think it's ok with him leaving early , he did what he was paid for. Plus he may still be available to do some remote work in the afternoon. – Rolexel Jul 4 '17 at 7:49
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    @AlexandreAudin If he's going to leave early and work shorter hours, it should be with the full knowledge and consent of his superiors, in which case the answer would be, "He left at 1400 today, call his mobile if it can't wait". I suspect that they also expect him to maintain certain on site hours to be available for any unexpected issues should they arise, or if he doesn't have enough work to fill his days, they would assign him more. In any case a good leader leads from the front. – DLS3141 Jul 4 '17 at 15:43
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    "Suspect" is the key word here. We don't have enough informations , and unless it has a direct impact on OP's work it's none of his business and though , none of ours. – Rolexel Jul 5 '17 at 7:53
  • @Rolexel only true if the scrum master was salaried but they are a contractor so its fraud in this case – Neuromancer Sep 30 '18 at 14:50
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If your company has a lump-sum number in the contract for services, then that's not a big deal for your company, though he is probably ripping off his own company. This is highly unlikely, though.

Most contracts are based on an estimate of hours worked, and have a provision for authorizing more funding when those hours run out. Padding his hours like that would accelerate that process and certainly cause your company to pay.

Also, even if he gets paid a salary from his company, consulting gold, where they get their money, usually, is by their employees working billable hours. He may not see more money, but his company is very possibly charging yours for his time, at a huge, massive markup over what he gets paid.

If your company is directly contracting with him, then it is a big deal. If he had a salary based on work completed, he'd be an regular employee, not a contractor, unless he is an awesome negotiator.

I'd at least mention it to management, and leave it at that. Something along the lines of "I heard contractor X mention he logs a full day {"with his company", if that applies}, even if he only works until 14:00, which I've seen that he often does. I don't know if we get billed by how many hours he reports, but if we do, I thought you might want to know about that. No need to follow up with me, I'm not personally invested in this."

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    If as a contractor, he is billing for hours he did not work or if his company is doing so, that is fraud. It is illegal and he could go to jail and so could his company management. If he is billing this way and the paying company also knows they are overpaying but choose not to take action, the managers who agree to that are also committing fraud. – HLGEM Jun 30 '17 at 15:26
  • @HLGEM - completely agree. I avoided using that term because I don't know the specifics of the exact employment contract/relationship, but I see very few possibilities that don't match up with your comment. Plus pursuing or acting on that basis is probably above OP's "pay grade," so reporting it up the chain of command covers what would need to be done. Of course, if OP works for government and the contract was awarded on the basis of cronyism, all bets are off. – PoloHoleSet Jun 30 '17 at 15:36
  • @HLGEM, while people do end up in jail for fraud, it is very unlikely that skipping out early is going to land the consultant and his management "in jail". Jail is what happens to contractors that do things like the guys in the movie "War Dogs". Far more realistic to just state the actual worst-case-scenario outcome: Contract dissolved + contractors fired. – teego1967 Jul 2 '17 at 14:46
  • When I worked for an audit agency, we did in fact put people in jail for timecard fraud. People need to know that this sort of crap can end up with them in jail. – HLGEM Jul 3 '17 at 13:44
  • @HLGEM - or that it's serious enough that one needs to report it, if they see it happening, even if it's not activity they, themselves, are engaging in. – PoloHoleSet Jul 5 '17 at 18:39
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As I manager I would feel betrayed if any staff does not share this information with me.

Scrum master is paid from resources you and others are creating .

A) Making sure your manager is aware of this is a must [edited]

B) If you are already certain that your manager is aware of this, you may ask : "If this behavior falls within the company standard and if indeed the company is flexible to allow this happen."

Hope it helps

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    Its not the staffs job to manage the other staff, that is the managers job. While I agree what this SCRUM master is doing is wrong, it is not the employees reasonability it is yours as the manager. I would advise OP to worry about himself and less about others. – SaggingRufus Jun 30 '17 at 11:31
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    As your employee, I would feel betrayed if you didn't notice this yourself. This is your job to deal with, not your subordinates'. This is a management failure. Either the consultant is ripping off the company and management it too clueless or incompetent to deal with it, or there are hidden factors not obvious to others. However, in that case, it's still a management failure by letting the team think one of their co-workers is getting away with something, and thereby hurting morale. – Olin Lathrop Jun 30 '17 at 11:55
  • @SaggingRufus in the UK there is a term for a person who acts like this - a 'jobsworth'. In other words, someone who doesn't care if something is harming the company they work for. – DJClayworth Jun 30 '17 at 14:15
  • @DJClayworth Its not about caring, its about responsibility. OP is not responsible his colleagues success or failure (only his own). If you do meddle in something that is none of your business, be prepared for the repercussions. Depending on who he is ratting out, this may not end well. – SaggingRufus Jun 30 '17 at 14:24
  • "I'm not responsible for my team's success, only my own". That's certainly an attitude you can take, but it's not one that leads to team success.But this is a discussion for another day. – DJClayworth Jun 30 '17 at 14:58
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If your colleague gets paid by the hour, he's effectively stealing from the company. If not most of the rest of this answer does not apply.

Some people suggested (or implied) that you should only report him if it impacts your work. I disagree. If you witnessed someone stealing something of value from the office, it might not impact your work directly, but it's still theft.

Ultimately it's down to what's in his contract, he may be entirely entitled to do it as far as anyone knows, but this behaviour should be reported, just in case.

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One rather gentle approach would be to have/construct an impediment after he left, meaning you'd be less able to work and would have approached your Scrum Master. This is something you then should mention in person, hopefully leading to a different understanding and a change in behaviour.

If, however, your Scrum Master just needs an excuse to have a relaxed afternoon, it might be valid to raise this issue with the rest of the team, including the PO/boss/management.

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    Keep in mind that this could also backfire on you, if it becomes apparent that the impediment was artificially constructed to get the Scrum Master in trouble. He'll be angry because you're obviously out to get him, and your other colleagues/bosses will likely be upset because you're deliberately creating problems for them for petty reasons. If you absolutely can't mind your own business, you should at least be direct and honest about sticking your nose in his. – Steve-O Jun 30 '17 at 12:58
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    If you are concerned about an artificially constructed impediment, simply wait for a real impediment and delay asking about it until the Scrummaster leaves for the day. – DJClayworth Jun 30 '17 at 16:01
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You should not confront him at all. It is the managers job to manage his/her staff. If they are unable to do that, the responsibility does not fall on you.

Stop worrying about what everyone else is doing and be the best you, you can be. I used to get frustrated at people who waste time or leave early and not report things, but I realized that it was non of my business and being upset over them not "working as hard as me" really only impacted my performance and there was nothing I could to change them.

One of three things is happening:

  1. Management is actually blind and doesn't care (not likely).
  2. Management knows, and they are willing to look the other way until someone says its an issue (if they are doing this they don't want someone to report him).
  3. Management is actually dealing with this and because it is none of your business, you are not privy to what is going on behind the scenes.

Be the best worker you can be and let the chips fall as they may. If this actually starts affecting your performance THEN you can bring exactly what impacted your performance for example:

I needed Bill for this item to be complete, but I didn't see him around and as a result I unable to complete task A

I am not saying what he is doing is right, because it is not. The SCRUM master is lying to the company and that is wrong, but it is not your place to address that. Leave it alone.

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    The obvious option 3 being: Management knows, and is dealing with it somehow. The specific means by which they are dealing with it may or may not be apparent to a person who is a third party to the events. – a CVn Jun 30 '17 at 12:06
  • good point, I will add that to my answer as it may not be obvious to everyone – SaggingRufus Jun 30 '17 at 12:09
  • You are missing another option, which is that management doesn't know, but would care if they knew. Contrary to popular opinion, managers are not omniscient. – DJClayworth Jun 30 '17 at 14:14
  • @DJClayworth I agree that a manager can't know everything, but someone leaving early everyday, is something very obvious. If they can't figure that out, what exactly are they managing? – SaggingRufus Jun 30 '17 at 14:21
  • I agree that a good manager should work this out, but if a place has a work-from-home policy it may not be obvious. – DJClayworth Jun 30 '17 at 15:02
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He is basically committing pay fraud to your company. He is a contractor which means he is dependent on hours. Just because he does an 8 hour day worth of work in 4 hours doesn't change the fact he is adding on hours that don't belong. I had a friend who worked in construction who did pretty much the exact same thing. He would go to a site, work a couple hours but still write down a full 8 hours to get their full pay. Eventually management found out and he was fired.

You should at least make your manager aware of the conversation you heard. Or talk to HR. These are the kinds of things that you can also get fired over if you know this is going on but choose to remain silent on. I worked at a job where someone was committing fraud and other people knew about it. When he was caught, they all got fired for not reporting it.

My advice is to notify your manager. He may tell you it is an agreement they have under his contract that he fills out his time card as so. Or he may say, you know, that sounds off to me too, thanks for letting me know and will look into it. Just say thanks and that you don't need to be a part of any further discussion as someone else mentioned. Let him know you only wanted to bring up something you over heard and felt was off or wrong.

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This depends on where you work. I have encountered situations like this and also was puzzled what to do. Some people are really good at convincing that they are on track on what needs to be done regardless of hourly schedule. If this is the case by reporting him could only backfire to you since the manager can say he is (currently) happy with the deliverables of the guy. If in the long run the lack of quality etc will be well understood that's another story. So what you need to do is understand what your manager's ideas are

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As a Scrum Master I expect more from the team-members. I expect them to find new ways of becoming hyperproductive. Most often there is an endless stream of work for the development team. Any increase in speed is welcome.

As a Developer I would expect more from your Scrum Master. The Scrum Master job is not a part-time one. If the team and product owner are working perfectly, then the next focus is the organization and development practices (e.g. technical excellence). Even then there is always a way to help the team to succeed better. Worst case the Scrum Master can even help with testing or coding.

Should I confront him in private?

Yes, I would confront him in private. Be sure you understand his point of view fully. Don't blindly attack him, just challenge his practises and let him explain. Then you can give your point of view. For example how he should set a better example for the team. Or how this seems unfair. Keep an open conversation and try not to judge, just to understand.

Should I discuss this with my higher ups?

If the one-on-one was not satisfying I would take it higher up. The Agile organisation should be one that is continuously improving. It is your and everyone's job to signal things can be improved. Challenge the status-quo, but do it with mutual respect.

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