Your most burning questions about leading 2 teams as Scrum Master (2023)


Hello, everyone! This time I want to open a discussion on a very hot thread: How to manage 2 teams as a teamScrum-Master! In my career asScrum-MasterI have worked in many different companies and some of them I had to take over two teams. To be honest, this experience can be very hard and challenging. In this article, I want to answer the most burning questions about leading 2Teams asScrum-Master.

Leading 2 teams

In some companies there is a strong belief that theScrum-Mastershould the second team take over to be 100% utilized. Other companies simply cannot afford othersScrum-Master, and they decide to assign him to the second team. There are many other reasons why organizations make such decisions. The reason why I consider this topic important is that it has far-reaching consequences for the team, the Scrum Master and the organization that should not be ignored. I want to raise awareness of this thread so companies and Scrum Masters can see the impact this decision can have on their performance.

Is it a good idea?

I have now played through this 2-team situation several times and formed a clear opinion on it. I've also spoken to many other Scrum Masters from around the world and most of them share my opinion: Leading 2 Teams as aScrum-Mastercan have many disadvantages on many levels. That doesn't mean it doesn't work at all! So I made two lists:DisadvantagesandRecommended course of actionlead two teams as a managerScrum-Master:

Disadvantages of a Scrum Master leading two teams:

lose focus:
Not only do they change teams, they also change topics all the time. As aScrum-Master, you should be deeply involved in the product and the team's vision. Having 2 of each can create confusion, and you are NOT always on the same page as the teammates. They are regularly thrown out of context. Team members need to invest more time in getting you on board every time they start a discussion. You notice that especially in the retrospectives and sprint planning.

Losing spontaneous conversations:
This kind of conversation is super inspiring and valuable for the whole breaksin the kitchen or spontaneous ideas in the middle of a sprint can change and generate many ideas. This is the time you might miss because you're sitting in the other team's room.

Less time for coaching:
If you have rookie teams, they need coaching. You will miss important coaching moments with theScrum-Masterbecause he is too busy.


Do you know this stupid sentence on almost every job advertisement: "You have to endure stress". I don't give a damn about that argument because I think there's a healthy level of stress that normally every human being can handle. Then there is another level where it becomes more and more difficult. My experience is very clear: stress = too much to do. Then you're either disorganized or you just have too much shit on your list that doesn't fit into your time. If you try to get everything done on your overloaded agenda, you run the risk of delivering poor quality, and this is one hell of a thingScrum-Mastershould try to avoid as a team.

meet crossing:
Aside from the normal Scrum artifacts, there are some additional onessessionswhich could overlap with meetings of the other team. So you have to reorganize or just skip one (which leads back to the Losing Focus part)

Missing identification:
This does not apply to everyoneScrum-Master, but some of them develop a lack of identification. I am aScrum-Masterwho needs a strong connection to the team and the product. I like to identify with both components. When I had my first 2 man situation I felt like I lost a bit of identification. The cultures were very different and it can be difficult to settle into both teams as each team develops its own 'insider' language that you may not understand due to absence.

If you are already successful asScrum-Master, you know what's possible and how rewarding it can be to lead a team to success. That feeling is great, and you feel like you've made a difference. This can change dramatically when you take on the 2nd team: If you could fall into the traps mentioned above, it could lead to frustration because you don't experience the same feelings and achievements as before. You'll be more concerned with fixing stuff than with itdevelop new skills.

Leading 2 Teams: Here are ten best practices you can start using right away

Businesses believe they can save money by aScrum-Master2 teams. To be honest, I think this is not always the case. I think the quality of theScrum-Mastercan drop heavily unless you have a real hero and both teams are already high skillhustle(Most of the time this is not the case). Having gone through such a time, I want to share some best practices for running two teams:

Do not run sprints concurrently
I had a period where each team's sprints started and ended on the same day. This was one of the most difficult times ever as I had to do 2 sprint reviews, 2 retrospectives, planning etc. at the end of the sprint. My performance dropped and I couldn't deliver any real quality.

(Video) Interview Question What Does Scrum Master Do When the Team Is Lagging in Sprint?

Get even better organized
Sure aScrum-Mastershould be organized one way or another. In this particular case, theBullet-Journalhelped me to handle the situation even better. I've increased my productivity with this analog system, and so can you! The Bullet Journal is a customizable and forgiving organizational system. It can be your daily to-do list, sketchbook and notebook for your daily work.

Bring your teams close together
If you are managing two teams, they should be physically close to each other. This gives you the opportunity to communicate better and quickly jump into the other team's office.

Connect the teams
Try to bring both teams together so they can bond with each other. Maybe both teams have similar problems or products. This could be very handy because every now and then you can bring together a team event where you can share experiences. What you should never do is confuse retrospectives or planning (unless both teams are working on the same sprint goal). Before you start connecting your teams, talk to each of them before bringing them together. If there is no empathy at all, then don't mix.

Communicate your situation
Both teams will see the difference and your absence, especially in critical situations. Share your experience with them and explain your situation to them. This can open your eyes and you will gain much more understanding and acceptance. Maybe the team will help you with that and start doing things more autonomously.

Select a moderator talent
As mentioned above, sometimes the team needs some help, but you are busy in the other team. If you're lucky, you may have a talent on the team who can step in and help moderate the meeting. In my case I had a strong oneproduct ownerwith high social skills. She was accepted by the team and did a really good job as a moderator.

Be present every day
Don't make the mistake of choosing a model where you're on Team A for one week and on Team B for the following week. This is an absolute anti-pattern. Choose a healthy mix of staying in both offices every day. It's quite difficult because sometimes one team needs more attention than the other and you have to find a good balance. How you balance the situation is entirely up to you.

(Video) Top 15 Most Difficult Scrum Master Interview Questions | Episode 1

Use synergies
Sometimes you experience great moments and practices in a team that worked perfectly. Be open and share these experiences with the other team. There's no guarantee it will work, but you can adapt these ideas and turn them into something very awesome. Try to use these synergies because they can save a lot of time.

Never skip the "daily meeting".
Schedule the daily meetings so that you can participate in both teams, because this is the shining moment when you plan what to do that day. In addition, this is the 10 minutes that will give you all the information that you may have missed the day before due to your absence.

Believe me, managing 2 teams can be challenging and if you take your job very seriously you will face difficult and stressful situations from time to time. Although you may have a huge to-do list, it's a good idea to disconnect from both teams from time to time. Step back, find a cool room, and relax for a few minutes. Use the time to analyze and reflect on your work over the past few days to find new approaches. This time is important for you and your brain, which helps you learn and develop your skills.

So those were my ten tips for leading two teams as a Scrum Master. I would like to know if you have been in a similar situation. Let's gather even more tips and practices for other Scrum Masters to benefit from in this article.

Thanks to Luis for publishing my guest article on this blog.


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What is the biggest challenge you faced as a Scrum Master? ›

Lack of Agile awareness for the teams

It is one of the challenges of the Scrum Master to help Scrum Teams deliver the product on-time irrespective of the team member's coordination.

What questions Scrum Master should ask? ›

What was your velocity for the last three Sprints? A Scrum Team should know its velocity or productivity, how could it otherwise possibly improve? How many user stories are typically not finished within a Sprint and for what reasons?

Can a Scrum Master run two teams? ›

The short answer is yes. However, the answer to a similar question; "Should the Scrum Master be on multiple teams?" is not as easy to answer. Jeff Sutherland, the co-creator of Scrum, often comments about how the Scrum Master role was originally created to take up half of a developer's time.

How many teams should a Scrum Master lead? ›

Therefore a novice Scrum Master should just be Scrumming one team, an experienced Scrum Master can safely handle up to 2-3 teams and a very experienced Scrum Master can handle more than 3 teams.

How do you resolve conflicts in Scrum Master? ›

One of the best ways to resolve a conflict is by giving personal coaching to the members of the team. As a Scrum Master, it is very important to have a good relationship with the team members and guide them when they go through any impediments.

What are the 3 C's of scrum? ›

The three Cs stand for Card, Conversation and Confirmation and in this article, I'm going to discuss each of the elements, explaining why, and how to ensure you're doing it right. I'll also scatter in a few tips from my experiences with agile teams.

What are 3 essential tasks a Scrum Master performs each iteration? ›

The Scrum Master has an important role to play with respect to the development team.
  • Removing project impediments that stand in the way of team productivity and performance.
  • Helping the development team to create high-value products.
  • Ensuring the development team is working effectively, by conducting regular reviews.

How do you handle multiple teams as a Scrum Master? ›

The Scrum Master will help your team be effective and stay effective. By having a Scrum Master focus on one team, they can better help them integrate with the larger organization. If you need to have multiple teams per Scrum Master, try to have some balance (in that not all of their teams are new or old)

How do you handle multiple Scrum teams? ›

You can organize multiple Scrum teams in many different ways, such as LeSS, Nexus, SAFe, DAD and Scrum@Scale based on our work with these frameworks which share some common patterns: Scrum at team level, many teams sharing a backlog, planning is done collaboratively across teams and the general principles of pull and ...

What role should a Scrum Master avoid? ›

The Scrum Master should not take sides

The facilitator role of the Scrum Master means that in a situation of conflict, he should not take sides or have any predilection for someone's opinion. Instead, he should serve as a mediator in helping the parts reach a solution.

What are the 2 Behaviours of an effective Scrum Master? ›

SAFe Scrum Masters are responsible for supporting and fostering the following team attributes: Self-management and taking ownership and accountability. Aligned and collaborative. Success focused on clear goals and purpose.

Should Scrum Master lead stand up? ›

Scrum Master do not give their status update, but they are there to facilitate the stand up meeting. Their role is to make sure meeting starts on time, everyone in the meeting gives their status updates within their time frame, take action when any team-member has roadblocks in completing their task.

How many projects should a Scrum Master run? ›

Total hours: 25hours/project. Let's say we work 160hs/month when full time, so this Scrum Master can manage 5-6 Projects maximum.

What are 3 tips to resolving conflict? ›

Some Ways to Resolve Conflicts
  1. Talk directly. Assuming that there is no threat of physical violence, talk directly to the person with whom you have the problem. ...
  2. Choose a good time. ...
  3. Plan ahead. ...
  4. Don't blame or name-call. ...
  5. Give information. ...
  6. Listen. ...
  7. Show that you are listening. ...
  8. Talk it all through.

How does a Scrum Master remove impediments? ›

Tactics for Removing Impediments
  • Don't wait until the Daily Scrum to raise an impediment! ...
  • Use a Sprint Goal. ...
  • Understand the difference between 'blocks' and 'impediments'. ...
  • Improve transparency by using an 'Impediment Board'. ...
  • Keep track of fixed impediments. ...
  • Understand the organization.

How do you handle difficult situations at work? ›

  1. Use Conflict as a Natural Resource. ...
  2. Don't React. ...
  3. Deal with Feelings. ...
  4. Attack the Problem, Not the Person. ...
  5. Practice Direct Communication. ...
  6. Look Past Positions to the Underlying Interests. ...
  7. Focus on the Future.
Jan 11, 2016

Can you give an example of when you have worked well under pressure? ›

In my previous experience, I always worked well during deadlines, and I always learned how to work more efficiently afterwards." "I work well under pressure because I don't panic. I maintain self control and work as efficiently as possible. In all my experiences, I did well and I always enjoyed the experience."

How do you break down a user story? ›

Here are some effective tips for breaking down a user story into tasks.
  1. Create Meaningful tasks. Describe the tasks in such a way that they convey the actual intent. ...
  2. Use the Definition of Done as a checklist. ...
  3. Create tasks that are right sized. ...
  4. Avoid explicitly outlining a unit testing task. ...
  5. Keep your tasks small.
Jan 5, 2015

What are the 5 core Scrum values? ›

The five Scrum values are commitment, focus, openness, respect, and courage. In Scrum methodology, these values serve as a guide for individual and team behavior, intending to boost collaboration and increase the odds of project success.

How do you break epics into user stories? ›

Here are some suggestions for ways to split epics into stories:
  1. Data Boundaries: Divide the epic into separate bits of functionality along data lines. ...
  2. Operational Boundaries: Reduce the epic to its minimum viable feature, then build it out with additional slices of functionality.
Dec 6, 2016

What are the 5 must have qualities of a Scrum Master? ›

To sum up, Scrum Masters share at least 6 traits: They are responsible, humble, collaborative, committed, influential, knowledgeable. And the best Scrum Masters also know when to abide by the rules and when to break the rules.

What are the three main challenges the Scrum team is facing today? ›

Common challenges of the Scrum framework

A drift back to waterfalling tasks. Lack of experience in team. Lack of management commitment to the process.

What are your weakness Scrum Master interview questions? ›

Scrum Master Interview Questions to Ask Candidates
  • What are some of your previous experiences with or related to scrum master? ...
  • Describe a time when your team members didn't seem to be getting along. ...
  • What is your greatest weakness? ...
  • What do you think are the characteristics that would make a good scrum master?

What are the three main challenges the scrum team is facing today? ›

Common challenges of the Scrum framework

A drift back to waterfalling tasks. Lack of experience in team. Lack of management commitment to the process.

What is the biggest challenge you found while handling a project? ›

Miscommunication, poor communication, is one of the biggest project management challenges that get in the way to deliver projects successfully. Communication skills are the project manager's greatest asset.

What are the main challenges working by scrum methods? ›

10 Common Challenges Faced by Scrum Teams
  • Resistance to Change. ...
  • Struggle Creating Releasable Product Every Sprint. ...
  • Unavailability of Product Owner. ...
  • No to Minimal Access to Key Stakeholders and Users. ...
  • Struggles with Sprint Length. ...
  • Lack of Training. ...
  • Inefficient Daily Stand-Up Meetings. ...
  • Urgent Tasks/Bugs Between a Sprint.
Feb 18, 2022

What are the 3 main responsibilities of a Scrum Master? ›

The three roles of a scrum master are to facilitate, lead, and communicate. A scrum master must facilitate scrum meetings, also called daily standups.

What a Scrum Master should not do? ›

The Scrum Master should not be confusing with the role of Project Manager. The scrum master's role is to take a different perspective from the team members and don't directly work as a taskmaster. They don't direct the team, collect status, compile reports, and share it with the stakeholders.

What are the 3 pillars of every Scrum implementation? ›

Understand Scrum

If you carefully scrutinize scrum, you will find again and again the three pillars of empirical process control: transparency, inspection, and adaptation.

What is the most current challenges in managing teams *? ›

What Are the Common Team Management Challenges Faced by Managers?
  1. Lack of Collaboration. ...
  2. Lack of Vision Among Team Members. ...
  3. Team Members Not Listening to Instructions. ...
  4. Team Members Lack Ownership of Their Work. ...
  5. Lack of Motivation Left Among Team Members. ...
  6. The Team Is Not Aligned to Company Goals and Processes.
Dec 29, 2022

How do you handle challenging projects? ›

5 ways to tackle a challenging project
  1. Stick to the plan. Tackling a challenging project can often prove tricky even for seasoned employees. ...
  2. Define the project. Before embarking on the project, spend some time on thinking about it. ...
  3. Get team in place. ...
  4. Manage time. ...
  5. Seek help. ...
  6. Think of future.
Jan 10, 2017

How do you manage difficult projects? ›

Project management tips for big, hairy, complex projects
  1. Define a shared goal.
  2. Consider roles and responsibilities.
  3. Break it down and define the scope.
  4. Make your life easier by using collaboration tools.
  5. Create a positive team environment.
  6. Adapt (then adapt again)
  7. Bonus tip: reward motivation and progress.
May 8, 2017

How do you handle a challenge best answer? ›

Here is our three-step method to describe a challenge or conflict you overcame.
  1. Describe the challenge + what was at stake. Describe the challenge that you encountered. ...
  2. Explain what steps you took to solve the challenge + why. ...
  3. Conclude by detailing the positive outcome.


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