Scrum Team

5 Tips for Dealing with Uncooperative Team Members in Scrum

by Pete R.

It is normal to come across people at the workplace that can make your job more complicated than it actually has to be. These kinds of people are disrespectful, harmful or merely unwilling to behave like a part of a team. Handling such people becomes even more difficult when you are a Scrum Master. As you have no formal authority over them, it is more likely that you will face resistance and challenging behavior.

Here are 5 tips that will help you deal with uncooperative team members in Scrum.

1. Try to Connect on a Personal Level

An uncooperative person may be behaving so because before the agile transformation they were probably the go-to person for everything and now they can’t deal with the change. One way to know what the problem is, try to connect to them on a personal level.

Go out with them for a coffee or hang out during lunch and get to know what is bothering them.

2. Don’t Ignore Conflict

Often uncooperative team members can show their disinterest by passing an offensive comment.

Rather than giving in to these negative emotions, you should see it as an opportunity and try to resolve the conflict rather than ignoring it.

It obviously will require some personal courage but the benefits are greater having dealt with a conflict.

3. Set Ground Rules

To discourage uncooperative behaviour involve your team in setting some ground rules.

These rules should apply to each team member including the scrum master and product owner. Specify what behaviour is acceptable and what is not and what will be the consequences of not following these ground rules.

If someone from the team has no regard for the rules and breaks them regularly, the scrum team should be empowered enough to evict that person.

4. Try to Look at Things Differently

What may seem like uncooperative behavior to you may be justified in a team member’s eyes.

Try to look at things differently and think from their perspective. This will help you understand what the issue is and deal with it in a better way.

Ask them their problems and listen rather than trying to make them look to you.

5. Ask not to be the Scrum Master

This may be the last resort as sometimes you simply can’t deal with uncooperative team members. The uncooperative member may be a senior stakeholder that just refuses to listen, or one bad apple could create havoc, and the rest of the team starts to behave uncooperatively too.

So rather than having sleepless nights and bad days, ask not to be the scrum master of this team.

The purpose of the agile transformation is to work very closely and collaboratively. This is why it is essential that each member is playing their part and uncooperative people are dealt with.

We hope these tips help you in dealing with uncooperative team members in scrum and be the best scrum master you can be.


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