"It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” Harry S. Truman
Communication is the process of transmitting or exchanging information, knowledge, or ideas through various means such as speech, writing, mechanical, or electronic media. There are two main types of communication widely recognized: verbal communication, which includes both oral and written forms and non-verbal communication, which involves facial expressions, body language, etc. Effective communication is crucial for a team's and an entire organization's well-being. Ineffective hierarchical communication can lead to reduced job satisfaction, decreased productivity, feelings of isolation, and employee retention issues. For instance, a survey by Think Feel Know Coaching revealed that 46% of 4,000 respondents were unsure of their tasks when given by their line manager, resulting in up to 40 minutes of wasted time per individual each day.
Scrum Masters play a vital role in promoting healthy communication among team members, management, and stakeholders. By utilizing established communication models, like the JIRA dashboard, Scrum Masters can fulfill the communication requirements of various stakeholders, management, and project sponsors.
Now, you may be wondering how a Scrum Master can recognize and address ineffective communication, both within the team and in their own communication skills. If you've ever experienced a situation where team members disagreed with you, felt unheard while presenting ideas, or encountered conflicts that escalated due to miscommunication, then you've witnessed miscommunication. Understanding effective communication techniques is essential when striving to improve team communication or one's own communication skills. Effective communication should be transactional or two-way, involving feedback to ensure better interactions and avoid misunderstandings. A basic communication model comprises a sender (source), a message, encoding, a channel (e.g., email, face-to-face), decoding, a receiver, and feedback, with feedback being a critical component.
Another crucial technique is communication style, which includes being assertive, avoiding aggression or passivity, choosing the right sentence structure, and word usage. An assertive communication style encourages team members to share their opinions respectfully and considerately. As a Scrum Master, it's important to be aware of your own communication style and to observe team communications carefully. Promptly addressing difficult attitudes and dysfunctional behaviors contributes to healthier and more effective interactions.
Facilitation is another key technique and stance of a Scrum Master. It involves building consensus, overcoming obstacles, managing group dynamics, and maintaining interest and enthusiasm during meetings or discussions. A facilitator remains neutral and helps the group work together towards common objectives. Being an enabler, supporting everyone to perform at their best, and focusing on team integration and personal and career objectives are crucial aspects of facilitation. Meeting management, active listening, paraphrasing, encouraging participation from reticent group members, articulating differences, and restating underlying issues are essential characteristics of a facilitator.
Lastly, active listening, also referred to as intentional listening, plays a crucial role in effective communication. Listening actively involves acknowledging, clarifying, confirming, understanding, and removing barriers that hinder comprehension.
Research suggests that making a plan increases the likelihood of reaching your goals. As part of the agile mindset of continuous improvement, a Scrum Master should be intentional about developing their communication skills. Numerous resources are available to help improve communication skills. Identify the specific skills that need improvement, create a plan, execute it, evaluate the results, and review the plan for further progress. Looking to become a Scrum Master?, sign up for our Scrum Master course today: Learn More
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