I am the project manager for a team composed of employees who were hired specifically as QA or development prior to agile/scrum being adopted by the organization. Just for background, I came into the organization after the implementation of scrum.
The problem we're having is at various times during a sprint, team members will announce that they have no work to do. There are still many items that aren't "done", but either someone is already working on them or they're not in the phase that person feels they're responsible for - developers have no work because everything is in QA or vice versa. Previously, they would just pull more items off of the product backlog - no team commitment, no discussion, they were allowed to just pull something else in to the sprint. That, I put a stop to immediately, explaining by doing that they were committing to things for everyone else on the team without asking them first. I should also mention that the team rarely meets their original commitment set in planning, let alone the extra items pulled in, because things get stuck in phases even though there are team members claiming they have nothing to work on.
The idea of a single team working together to get everything to "done" has been explained to them, but developers say they weren't hired to do QA and QA says the developers just get in their way when they try to help on QA tasks and they don't understand how to properly test from a QA perspective. I've also explained that developers don't necessarily have to test and testers don't necessarily have to develop, but that the entire team should be working (through self-management) to either get committed items to "done" or doing something to benefit the team in the future (updating docs, maintaining the build/CI systems, improving automated testing, etc.) Regardless, we still get team members saying they don't have anything to do and want to pull new items in from the product backlog.
I feel that what they're really saying is: 1. There's nothing left in this sprint that I WANT to do. 2. I really want to get a head start on that so I have less work to do next sprint.
As a project manager, none of the team members directly report to me. I have discussed this with their managers individually and while they agree this is a problem, they feel that they can't force this.
The most direct result of this is that QA is constantly behind. When we start a sprint there are already several items ready for QA. While they work on these items, things keep piling up and at the end of the sprint we've got a giant set of items in QA and developers saying they have nothing to do. Of course with items not getting finished in a sprint, the next sprint comes and the problem keeps getting slightly worse and worse as QA can't keep up.
Does anyone see any course of action here? Thanks in advance.