How will the role of the manager change in an Agile organisation?
This is a question that keeps every manager busy when they start their Agile journey.
In this blog I describe the pattern of a changing management style. The behaviour is based on my observations when coaching the Agile manager.
A crucial part of an Agile transition is the mindset and acting of the manager.
Many managers have a hard time changing. Not because they don’t want to change, but mostly because the world around them isn’t ready for it.
Agile managers need teams to self-organise. Especially when it comes to operational, detailed, day to day activities. Daily, operational work is too complex to be involved in every detail.
However, self-organisation doesn’t just happen overnight!
Agile managers need to create an environment where people\teams organise themselves. Traditional management roles will evolve into leadership roles.
The pattern below describes 5 stages. In every stage the manager changes behaviour and lets go of an old behaviour.
Each of the stages has a relation to the maturity-level of the Scrum team. An Agile manager cannot grow when the Scrum Master, Product Owner and Development Team are not growing along.
The Director gives people individual targets to ensure efficiency, quality and responsibility for the outcome.
Profit and shareholder happiness are the main measurement for progress. Teams commit to time, scope and budget to make sure plans are executed.
Directors in a transition to the next stage have difficulties, since:
As a result of delegating work, people will start to feel responsible for some of the work. The Influencer creates more room for self-organisation, but people still struggle to get in control.
The directive management style of the Facilitator management has changed into a supportive approach.
People feel responsible and in control. They now want full control over their work.
There is a big overlap in the work of a Scrum Master and an Advisor. While the Scrum Master is focussed on coaching the teams, Advisors coach the Scrum Masters and\or Product Owners.
Once in a while the Advisor inquires if decisions do not lead to issues. He is still responsible for budgeting, but leaves the decision making with the people doing the work.
The Servant Leader provides guidance, possibilities and resources for new\unexperienced people to grow as a professional.
The major responsibility of the Servant Leader is to prevent the environment from re-creating old paradigms. Employees need enough room for experimenting with the values in the Agile manifesto.
Traditional managers have a hard time becoming Agile leaders since many organisations still run on old, top-down, directive paradigms.
A Servant Leader stands out by breaking through these political power-hierarchies.
A few tips if you are planning to walk this path yourself:
Read my other blogs in this series:
Looking for more reads\background information on this topic: