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What Is The Role Of A Manager In An Agile Or Scrum Team?

When making the switch to Agile or Scrum, many people struggle to find their role in the new structure.  Especially if it’s not well-defined.  Often times managers are uncomfortable with Scrum or Agile, especially when they don’t hold the role of Product…

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March 06, 2013

When making the switch to Agile or Scrum, many people struggle to find their role in the new structure.  Especially if it’s not well-defined.  Often times managers are uncomfortable with Scrum or Agile, especially when they don’t hold the role of Product Owner or ScrumMaster.  Real-life project or organizational situations often dictate a project structure, and a team finds itself with a person who is neither but has some other “manager” title.

If this is you, it’s easy to wonder, “Am I relevant?  What’s my role?  How do I help my team?”  I’d like to help you address some of these questions.

Do’s and Don’ts

I read this great article from the Harvard Business Review about how larger teams make managers better, and it got me thinking:  can Scrum teams help managers become better?  Scrum is designed to empower the individual team member and flatten the organization, so micromanaging and superfluous “help” are not welcome.  That is to say, your mere existence could seem like a threat to team productivity!

Regardless of your role, I thought I would offer a few Do’s and Don’ts for managers working with Agile or Scrum teams to help you make your Scrum team more productive, help your team deliver a better product, and start the process of letting your team make you a better manager.

  • Don’t be the team’s impediment
  • Don’t micromanage
  • Don’t feel like you need to review every web page or piece of functionality
  • Do help build up your team as technical leaders and experts
  • Do foster an environment where your team can engage directly with each other to solve problems
  • Do communicate upward
  • Do communicate outward to stakeholders, peers, or clients
  • Do review your overarching project risks and be the person who’s thinking about what others are not thinking about
  • Do help set a consistent, exciting, and achievable vision for the team, the product, or the organization
  • Don’t let your team build the Winchester House

And most importantly,

  • Do become a strategic thinker

What other do’s or don’ts do you have for managers of Scrum or Agile teams?

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