A few years ago, I became acquainted with a lady running a charity for a child who was having medical bills pile up. She was holding a charity bazaar to raise money for the child’s family. My wife and I felt like this was a good cause, so we volunteered to take off a day from work and help set up the event. We looked forward to serving and were ready to do anything that needed to be done.
When we arrived at the event location early in the morning, we got a strange feeling that we were more of a nuisance than a help. The organizer complained that she was too busy to hand out work, so we went around and asked other volunteers how we could help. They were very protective of what they were doing. At one point, we were setting up a table and another volunteer came over and said, “This is my table. You need to go somewhere else.” It was that moment that I realized letting people help was as much of a gift as actually doing the work.
Later, as I was carrying a 8 x 4 foot folding table into a conference room, a volunteer asked if I needed some help. My first reaction was to say no since the table was pretty light and I was carrying it without a problem. But then I caught myself and said, “You know, I could use some help. Thanks.”, and I let her grab one end of the table. She was helping me with the work and I was giving her a couple of gifts; a gift of feeling needed and a gift of participating.
As a Scrum Master, you often try to solve problems. You need to take on the mindset that accepting help is a gift to the person who wants to help. It’s a way to help others grow, not a sign of weakness but a sign of coaching maturity.
If you see others, Development Teams in particular, taking on more and more work by working more and more hours, you have a coaching moment right in front of you! Can you challenge a person to grow, train, or otherwise enrich others by accepting or requesting help? Can you change their feeling of value from being an individual product producer to a people grower?
One of the Scrum Values is respect. Respect is more than just saying, “Yeah, you’ve got good opinions.” It respects a person’s abilities and desire to feel needed and participate in a meaningful way.
Next time somebody asks, “Can I help you with that?” or you find yourself taking over because something needs to be done, ask yourself if there’s a way to engage others. Ask yourself if there’s a way to grow people rather than just solving a problem. Take a long term view and you will begin to see long lasting fruits in your colleagues.