​Employee Engagement and Professional Scrum – Part 5 of 5

This entry is part [part not set] of 5 in the series ​Employee Engagement and Professional Scrum

In this 5th and final post in the series, we will cover questions 10-12 of the Gallup Q12 Engagement survey, and how they can be addressed through Professional Scrum. 

Question 10: I have a best friend at work.

This is – by far – the most controversial question in Gallup’s Q12 survey. I will not go too far into the controversy here, but you can read Gallup’s take (and the research that went into this question) here

In short: Yes, it’s a hard question for most people to answer positively to. And no, you can not change the wording. The research shows that the specific wording (“Best friend) is what helps differentiate between high performing teams from average teams. So you can change the wording to get a higher score on the question, but that will not help you understand 

Scrum doesn’t really have anything to say about friendship on a Scrum Team. We do have the Scrum Values of Respect and Openness, and one can probably see a path from those two values towards building friendships over time. However, it is in the deep need for collaboration within the Team that you will find the seeds of friendship. Those seeds are further nurtured by a Scrum Master who actively finds and creates space for the team to connect on a more human level. The best Sprint Retrospective I ever attended was at a pub down the street. There was no agenda, no exercise. Another team I worked with took their coffee breaks seriously. Every day after Daily Scrum, they would head down to the break room (or a nearby coffee shop) for coffee and unstructured conversation.

It turns out that when there is Respect for people as human beings, they will often open up and form stronger social bonds. And with enough time, some “best friends” just might emerge.


Question 11: In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.

Like questions 4, 5 and 6, take note of the word “someone” here. Talking about your progress is something that certainly should be covered with the manager. However, this can come from the Scrum Team as  well.

There are many opportunities within Scrum to talk about progress. We talk about the progress of our Product at the Sprint Review. That’s not very personal, though. We can look to this statement from the Scrum Guide for some clues: The Scrum Team members have all the skills necessary to create value each Sprint

From time to time, we may want to take stock of those skills. This can be done as part of a Sprint Retrospective, or just a standalone activity. A good example of how to do this is here. In short, let’s be Open about the skills we have, and then look for any gaps or areas individuals may want to focus on. A Professional Scrum Master can not only facilitate this type of session, but also follow up with individuals to help them create their own action plan on how to improve their desired skills. They may even establish a coaching relationship with individuals on the team to help them follow through, and to, well, talk about their progress.


Question 12: This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow.

This is another area that can be greatly improved by a quality Professional Scrum Master. Similar to what we described in Q11, Scrum Masters will often develop a coaching relationship with members of their Scrum Teams. Through this coaching, individuals will often set personal improvement goals for themselves. 

Sometimes though, it can become clear that the current situation is not conducive to learning and growth for the individual. A Professional Scrum Master can help an individual come to terms with this, and perhaps even guide them towards working with their manager to find a better situation – be that moving to a new team, a different area of the company, etc. 


So that’s it! Gallup’s Q12 Engagement survey is the gold standard when it comes to measuring engagement. And there are no questions in the Q12 survey that aren’t directly addressed by applying the Scrum framework in a professional manner – that is, by taking all of it’s elements seriously, and upholding the Scrum Values. And of course, no one understands this better than a Professional Scrum Master!

If you are interested in learning more about Professional Scrum and how it might help you and your teams with overall employee engagement, click below to book a (free) consultation with me.

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