You just joined the Super Awesome Company as a Scrum Master. Your very first meeting is with the Vice President of Important Things, the Vulcan Product Owner and the lady with the amazing hair. Immediately, this collection of external observers pounds you with the woes of your newly inherited team. Incomplete stories in sprints, silos of skillsets, ineffective meetings, etc. This is all immediately followed by "the question"..."As the Scrum Master, what are you going to do about it?"
I'm sure you will never be in this sort of situation (yeah right). However, if you are, confidently look at that group and tell them, "I'm going to make sure the team has time for TEA." Team-Enforced Accountability.
Team-Enforced Accountability (TEA) is that sweet spot of self-organization where team members hold one another to account rather than relying on an external entity. TEA is not an instantly-attainable state of Scrum nirvana, but, after getting to know your team, there are some simple steps to get you well on your way.
In order to have TEA time, everyone on the team must have the same understanding of the expectations. Great tools to foster this understanding are established team values and team working agreements. Notice the emphasis on TEAM. These values and working agreements are created by the team, for the team and should be enforced by the team.
For great insights on team values and team working agreements, see the downloads section of the AgileDad website.
If the team does not have defined team values or working agreements, as the Scrum Master, coach the team through their creation. Always remember that the Scrum values are a great place to start! If the team already has established values and working agreements, help the team to review them, assess their relevance/value and make adjustments, if needed.
With the team values and working agreements defining the lanes of your road to TEA time, you can now focus on the time element. The time element of TEA time simply refers to the time it will take to foster an environment of open communication and trust where the members of the team can feel empowered and comfortable holding one another accountable. Leverage all of the coaching tools at your disposal to facilitate this process.
There is no one that understands the ups and downs of the team better than the team. External entities can see symptoms, but are likely to miss the actual root cause. Team-Enforced Accountability empowers teams to take their self-organization to new levels by creating a space where the team makes and enforces the rules. Encourage your teams to take time for TEA and watch their performance skyrocket.