Part of the role of a ScrumMaster is to help teams identify and resolve impediments to progress. Odds are you have experienced the following scenario on your Agile team:
A team member comes to you complaining about a conflict he has with another person on the team. You are asked to "fix" the problem. As a dutiful leader, you may feel obligated to rescue your team member and address the problem by assuming your team mate's version of the story is complete and approaching the other person to address the problem.
We've essentially formed a triangle in this conflict between the Victim, the Persecutor, and the Rescuer. Odds are the situation becomes complicated once you discover there are two sides to the story between the victim and persecutor. And now you are stuck in the Bermuda Triangle of Conflict.
As a coach and a leader, how do you avoid this Bermuda Triangle? Here are some helpful tips:
- When a victim comes to you complaining about someone else, ask the following question: "So what did <insert persecutor's name> say when you approached them about this? It's important to ask in this open-end format. Don't ask a yes/no question like "Did you approach...?" The open-ended question sends a message to your team member that he/she is expected to at least attempt to resolve it before coming to you.
- When a victim indicates that "isn't it your role to resolve conflicts?", you can remind them of your expectation that they at least attempt to resolve their own conflicts first. Otherwise you may become overwhelmed with people asking to resolve their problems.