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I am a scrum master for a team of 6 developers and testers. There is also a product owner.

Management wants me to do certain things which a traditional manager would do eg. get the team to complete their time sheets.

I don’t believe this is my remit.

What should I do?

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Teach the team to self-organise around topics you get from upper management.

We had a similar issue with time-sheets recently. The Scrum Master brought the issue to the team. The team wanted to understand the value better of the time-sheets and once they understood implemented a measure to complete them daily. They added a question to the stand-up: "Did we complete our time-sheets of yesterday?". Which worked, and when they forgot they where reminded. The good thing here is they choose todo it, they where not forced.

A Scrum Master should teach the organisation how to self-organise. This goes two ways, the team, but also upper management. Bring them together let them truly understand each side.

So I think it is fine to ask a Scrum Master to assist with traditional management type of stuff, but execute it in a way that facilitates the team in self-organisation.

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You should inform management that as a Scrum Master you have NO 'executive' (for the lack of a better word) power over your team nor are you responsible for your team's performance. You and your team are ONE in front of the management.

The person responsible for the team is the team lead or direct manager (probably a mid-level manager) and only that person can 'get' the team to do something.

As a Scrum Master, you can facilitate and plan these activities with your team. E.g. as a team, you agree that no Story is considered 'Done' unless all story-related activities have been logged into a timesheet. You can be responsible to check that. (My experience is that timesheets are done at the end of the week and are not entered per story but per project).

Or, create an awkward story "As manager I need all my team members to complete timesheets", create subtasks for each member and plan it in the Sprint.

These can be in the scope of your role. You can be responsible to remind your team members to complete their timesheets(e.g. on the deadline day's stand-up meeting).

If a team member keeps failing to enter these as you as a team agreed, you can bring that up in the Retrospective meeting with your team. And, if that doesn't help, escalate to his/her manager.

This is what you can propose to your management as a solution.

The Product Owner, in it's pure scrum role should not be managing the team. It does have full responsibility to manage the product, the sprint and team's effort.

  • Excellent answer +1... but I have a slight problem with the last sentence. It sounds a little devisive to my sensitive ears. The POs is a member of the Scrum Team, the PO has as much right to say it is 'their' Team as the SM does. Actually, I have an inclination to say the PO is the 'boss' of the Team (is often the more senior employee) and does have a certain amount of power (eg to stop a Sprint) when compared to the SM who is a servant leader. All team members should be accountable to each other and 'having power over someone' or otherwise should be a non-issue. – onedaywhen Jun 15 '18 at 21:03
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    Thanks @onedaywhen - I appreciate you correctng me. I've added the last sentence in haste - wanting to say that managerial power lies on a person's manager. I agree with you about PO's seniority, though in (very large) organisation where i worked PO was a business user that does not manage the team. And from my experience PO being also your boss could work but it could set strange dynamic in the team My point is being that the 'role' of SM or PO from Scrum perspective is best not to be mixed with team management roles. – Milan Jun 15 '18 at 21:19
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I would suggest that you sit down with the management team and agree a clear definition of what your role is.

Ask them whether they want you to focus on the Scrum Master role as defined by the Scrum Guide, or if they want some kind of hybrid role.

Offer to explain to them how the Scrum Master role is meant to work and the benefits this provides to the team and the organisation.

If they insist on a hybrid role then note that there will be an impact, which may include:

  • A reduction in the time you get to spend supporting Scrum and removing impediments
  • A change in the relationship between you and your team from one of servant leader to one of manager/administrator
  • The disempowering of the team which will impact on their ability to self-manage and adapt
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No one should really be "telling them to do the time sheets" (and it's clearly not your responsibility). People needs to understand the value of administrative tasks and organically do them.

Based on the previous, I see two issues that need to get sorted:

  • Why filling time sheets turned into a problem (is the current tool too difficult use for example?)

  • Explain people why it's valuable for the company to fill them

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I'd define your SM role, how the SM impacts value & then talk about being a team player. Time sheets are probably necessary to the business but are out of the scrum master's scope. Being a team player, you can educate the stakeholders as to how this extra duty impacts the framework. Are they ready for that? Time sheets & TPS reports can be done in their slack time. Good luck!

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