How Can a Manager Manage Self-Directed Agile Teams?

manager managing agile scrum teams

One of the most cited fears of management when transitioning from a waterfall to an agile software development culture is that they will lose control of software delivery.   Agile places planning and responsibility for delivery on agile development teams, and puts quality in the hands of developers, testers, and especially the product owner.   Sometimes it is culturally difficult to let go.   Managers are typically help responsible for end product delivery, and this responsibility does not disappear within the context of agile.  

Understanding how to maintain and grow your team, while enabling them to be self-managed is a tricky, but very rewarding skill to learn.  First, you must trust.   You should trust your team to do well.  Second, you should observe.   Do not jump in to fix situations immediately.  Offer suggestions, but do not place demands on the team.   A lesson that a team member learns on their own through careful coaching will last much longer than a lesson that has been told to them by management. 

Given this, the managers job will transition as an agile team matures.   A new team will need more input and guidance.  A team that has been doing agile software development longer, will become more and more independent.   The manager can then focus more on long-term objectives, process improvements, and building better relationships within their organizations.   The manager should shepherd teams and should carefully watch burn down charts, etc. to monitor progress.   This will enable them to remain responsible and tied into delivery, but give their agile development teams the freedom to grow and flourish.

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