Changing company for the first time

Not easy to handle all the information coming to you when starting a new role in an unfamiliar environment. For me, the situation was especially challenging since I had been working for the same company for a really long time. By long I mean seven years, I even started my career there as an intern.

This was the first time I have decided to take a big step and change my workplace. I had already challenged myself with changing my role approximately three years before when I had began my journey to become a scrum master. I had a great team and the confidence to be the one who can help them perform even better. But after those years, I felt that the team grew mature enough for me to leave and that I also wanted to grow more in my role as a scrum master.

So I took the courage and changed.

I took the responsibility to become a full time scrum master working with 3 teams at a new company. This was quite new for me taking into consideration the number of people I work with and that I could concentrate on becoming great in one specific role. (Before I kept on programming as well and since I had been the only UI developer in the team, it was hard to coordinate between the two roles.)

So at this new job everything was unfamiliar to me, the people, the application, the working environment, the applied languages and technologies and the company culture as well. Having all this storm of change around, I have realised that I needed to move step by step and figure out an order in which I tackle the challenges.

I started with the people, I tried to remember faces and pair them with names, knowledge base and connections. I also needed to start getting to know the roles and how they are linked to each other. Both needed to be done within and around the teams as well.

I had a lot of coaching sessions 1 on 1, sometimes next to a tea or coffee, making it more like an everyday conversation and this way less stressful as well. I was also using the first ceremonies, especially the standups and retrospectives to get to know more about the dynamics of the teams. With getting to know how people feel about the environment they are working in, I felt a lot closer to understanding the whole.

I also had to understand the implementation of agile within the organisation itself and what the goal is. I got to know that everyone in the company got the same basic scrum training which was great to bring everyone to the same page. The company and team structure had been designed based on the engineering culture that Spotify was implementing. It was really interesting to transform that into our environment. I was working with owners for the product and for the technology side of things. The team sizes were 6-7 people and each team had a team lead who was working within the team and closely with the agile coach. The teams made their own research and decisions on technology and solutions with the help of the technical owner and they chose the stories and work items that they were working on together with the product owner. They had the following meetings: planning once in every sprint, standups every day, backlog refinement 2-3 times per iteration whichever was working best for the specific team. The teams reviewed and demoed all achievements at the end of the sprint and a retrospective was held where each team member reflected on the last sprint and we collected action items for the next one to improve further.

It was great that the agile coaches were part of a wider network as well, a community of practice, having weekly meetings with an outside consultant together. On those meetings we were coaching each other as well as the consultant were coaching us on how to tackle the challenges we were facing. This was basically a safe place to reflect, widen our knowledge and think outside of the box. We also had a weekly get-together with the agile coaches working on our product only where we could work out our plans of reaching agility and talk about challenges specifically within the teams and also align our thoughts about where we are and what to do next.

After working within one team as a developer and scrum master beforehand, I felt that working with more than one team has the side effect that you are not really part of any teams. Since I really like to feel included, to support others and to talk situations over, it was really great to have these communities of practice.

I hope this post gives you an idea about how to start exploring your role as a scrum master or coach at a new company or maybe even at your current company if you do not see it clearly yet. (It happens.) Writing this definitely helped me collecting my thoughts and will help even more if you also share your tips and tricks in a comment below.

Thank you for reading it. :)

TM