Reblogged with permission from Jem D'jelal, the original author of this content, as a contributor to blogagility.com. Originally published on LinkedIn November 21, 2016.
There’s this ScrumMaster I know.
Who turns his empathy off like a light switch.
You see with his team he’s patient, gentle, curious.
Listening attentively to the words of the team in the retrospective, truly trying to understand & share the feelings of others.
“that story was stuck again” – maybe the developer was struggling with that piece of work but as a new team player didn’t feel confident to ask for help.
“that problem came up again when we released” – maybe the team couldn’t catch it because of a lack of automated testing that they’ve never had the time to implement.
Whatever it was, this ScrumMaster did his best to place his judgement on ice & instead seek to understand “the why” behind people’s actions.
Empathy Mode: OFF.
Scrolling through LinkedIn.
“Looking for a ScrumMaster/Technical Lead”.
Another recruiter advertising a role which didn’t make “agile” or “scrum” sense.
With no time to spare, it was time to tell the recruiter how little he knows about agile & scrum – quoting guides & manifestos.
No desire to understand the “why” behind the recruiters behaviour.
No desire to get into a meaningful discussion.
Only a desire to lay into the recruiter & tell them how stupid they are, how far they are from the mark.
Mocking & shaming are his tools of choice.
In fact, as the comments grow on the Recruiters LinkedIn status it makes it even more inviting & fun even to continue his abuse.
But it’s only sarcasm isn’t it?
At best the recruiter is passive but at worse he or she becomes defensive only fuelling the ScrumMaster to continue shaming the recruiter even further.
Beliefs drive behaviour.
Used car sales men.
They’re only interested in making money. They don’t care about bringing value to the client.
As long as they fill the slot for their client, it doesn’t matter if a role combined every single agile anti-pattern under the sun.
They’re all the same aren’t they?
With beliefs that a group of people are all a certain way, it is nothing but a prejudice.
Just don’t tell him that because it won’t fit into his mental model of who he is.
You know, he seems himself as the compassionate, empathetic agile coach, scrum master (or any other agile change agent) – yet his interactions with a group of people in the same space as himself get the reverse treatment.
But he justifies it to himself.
I mean think about it.
Selective empathy is completely reasonable.
Because, sometimes there are people who are so immoral they don’t deserve our empathy.
We can always find a way to justify our ugly actions to ourselves.
It’s far easier than looking inside & staring ugly in the face.
I mean it’s not like the agile space contains people who are selling the silver bullet solution to clients, focusing on getting their day rate up as opposed to bringing value.
But what if.
For a moment, he could just leave his empathy switch ON.
To reach out with good intention in a bid to understand the “why” behind the recruiters behaviour?
Was there a client who wanted this agile anti-pattern role?
Was it because the recruiter didn’t have the knowledge to guide the client past the anti-pattern role?
Or was it something all of us humans have to deal with sometimes, difficult targets being set by a manager?
If there is one thing for certain though, if he could just bring his best to the conversation things could be different.
Just imagine that the recruiter was another person who would benefit from some empathy, guidance & a curious ear – maybe, just maybe he might be able to help.