Use Scrum to manage your employee and stakeholder expectations!

If you’re new to Scrum and want to get the most out of a team of under-performers, you should try Scrum!! Used a certain way it can be the best form of 21st century micromanagement. Don’t worry about your teams resisting the push of Scrum. If you simply make the use of Scrum a company policy, they will have to adopt it. The benefits will come once you’ve fully implemented all of the right pieces and get full compliance.

Weaponize your Daily Scrum

You can just add a standup meeting to a traditional waterfall delivery process. This 30-45-minute wonder-meeting can surface issues faster while maintaining the project delivery status quo. All you have to do is have the engineers report their status and record their hours daily. Don’t worry if it makes the engineers feel awkward or if they seem disengaged. It’s not about them, it’s about the project status.  The best way to conduct it is to have the project manager play the role of Scrum Master and get everyone to answer three questions: what did you do yesterday, what will you do today, and what blockers are in your way so they can be documented with the other project risks. The discussion may get technical leaving others confused, but this is just part of the process. It’s hard to slack off when you have to report your work every day so individual performance should skyrocket! For maximum effect, have your managers and key stakeholders join so they can ask questions on a regular basis. For larger teams it might make sense to have this meeting as a phone call or slack channel discussion.

Sprint Review Demos

Be sure to give a demonstration of the work you might finish eventually to get feedback. The best way to do this is with a powerpoint demo. Done well, you can make it appear as though the software really works by clicking on fake buttons to advance the slide. They’ll never know you didn’t finish much the last few weeks.  And just to keep the business stakeholders truly distracted, be sure to show the last Sprint’s burndown chart. It will give the appearance that everything is on the right track. If you didn’t get much done, don’t worry! Just explain how complex your work is and all the reasons things didn’t go well. They’ll forgive you. If the stakeholders start asking questions you don’t like, just keep the discussion highly technical to a point your stakeholders no longer understand. The questions will soon stop.

Sprint Retrospectives for Annual Reviews

Managers: you can kill two birds with one stone if you bake performance reviews into the Scrum team’s Sprint Retrospective. In that meeting they’ll talk about all the things that went wrong that Sprint which will give you plenty of information to find the lowest performing team members. This will save you a lot of time and energy when you have to decide on raises. If you don’t have time to make it to the retrospectives, then just send the Scrum Master in for you to take notes about who is making the most mistakes.

Conclusion: The Real Truth

If you’re turning Scrum into a form of micromanagement, expect Scrum to fail in your organization. It was not designed to control or deceive people; it was designed to get complex work done while managing risk. Scrum works best with motivated people who can self-organize to solve problems. The best solutions come the fastest when done well. If how you’re managing people demotivates them, or instills fear, you will lose courage, openness and transparency. All of which are required to make an empirical process control framework like Scrum work. Consider attending a Responsive Advisors two-day Professional Scrum Master course to learn how to effectively apply Scrum for a lasting impact in your organization.

Robert Pieper

I like Metalcore, and cupcakes.
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