Challenging Personalities in the Daily Scrum Meeting | David Tzemach

Updated: Mar 2

Anyone who has ever participated in a daily Scrum meeting knows how difficult it is to run it effectively when you have challenging personalities. These are team members who come late or unprepared or come just because they have to but without any real intention to contribute. Let me introduce them to you:

The late riser who cannot keep their focus

Typically, a Scrum team built from five to seven team members generates a lot of information as part of the normal process of the daily meeting. To absorb this amount of data, team members must concentrate, which is challenging for the late risers, who will have difficulties focusing at these early hours.


The daily Scrum usually occurs at the start of the day, which can become a problem for team members who have trouble focusing early in the day. Late risers can be easily identified as they arrive late to each standup; usually, with a cup of coffee, they had just prepared to start their day. When the meeting ends, they typically do not talk to anyone, sit in front of their workstations, and work on their tasks.


A common way for Scrum Masters to handle late risers is by just moving the meeting to later in the day, which can affect the effectiveness of the meeting. I believe that the best way to help those members is by using simple techniques such as randomly changing the order of the speakers the location of the meeting or letting them summarize and share the meeting notes.


The one who never stops talking

Compared to the other Scrum events, the daily Scrum meeting is relatively short, with a specific agenda where team members are asked to answer three simple questions. There is no real reason for team members to waste time providing more information than needed or sharing their personal life stories.


As I learned, there are a few primary reasons that can explain this behavior, such as:

  • Team members with low confidence take time to share their information.

  • Lack of understanding of the meeting agenda and its goal.

  • Lack of discipline and focus.

As you probably, know, it is the Scrum Master's responsibility to keep the Scrum process moving forward and help the team improve day after day. In this scenario, the Scrum Master should ensure that only the relevant data is shared and stop those team members who fail to do so.



The one who blames everyone else

Blamers are another problematic team member who can affect the daily Scrum. As discussed in earlier paragraphs, the daily Scrum is the place for the team to discuss and synchronize. There is no room for team members to point fingers at someone else when the work is not progressing as it should be.


Typically, the blamers are the ones that constantly interrupt the meeting by shifting responsibility to others whenever they can. They never take the blame when they encounter problems. They do not take responsibility for their mistakes, bad decisions, or poor performance.


The Scrum Master must recognize these team members. He must work with them to correct this negative behavior. The Scrum Master must redirect their attention away from blaming others and toward facts that can help the team understand the problem and collaborate towards finding a solution.


The one who is not committed to the team

The daily standup is a great place to see the team’s progress throughout the Sprint. It is also the place to see those team members who are more committed than others. You can recognize the uncommitted team members simply because they do not hide their thoughts and behavior throughout the standup. These members have no consideration for how their behavior affects the rest of the team.


Examples:

  • They are unwilling to collaborate with the rest of the team.

  • They consistently interrupt other members talking.

  • They come unprepared, without the required answers.

  • They do not reveal the truth about their progress.

The uncommitted team members are the ones the SM must take care of soonest. This is because these members affect others. Furthermore, they reduce the team's ability to grow as a self-organized team. As the Scrum Master, you should talk with these members and understand the reasons for their behavior. You must ensure you help them increase their commitments and contribution to the team.



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