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How does the role of managers change when the team starts implementing Scrum ?

This is always a tricky question, and one that I have seen emerge in the minds of managers many times. Once a team starts implementing Scrums, one of the biggest issues is about the role of managers, what they are expected to do. I have seen reactions from managers, once they start seeing the task estimation (and Planning Poker), and the Daily Scrum meeting; they start feeling that they lose control over what their team is doing. This is even more critical for them since they are held responsible for the working of the team, for ensuring that the team delivers as per expectations, and they are the ones who are pulled up if the team does not deliver as per expectations.
So, how do you beat such cases ? How do you avoid cases where the managers start feeling that their role is not clear ? Well, one of the biggest items is to get managers to understand the Scrum methodology, make sure that they are comfortable with the changes, with the new role that the team also has. So, it is required that the managers understand what their role would be in terms of the Scrum methodology:
– The managers provide all the infrastructure in terms of machines, software, good working environment, organizational issues, etc. This can be pretty critical since it is important that morale issues be addressed, and morale for a team can be impacted by a number of organizational issues. A manager in other methodologies is expected to handle such issues, and the same remains valid in Scrum.
– Coaches team in Scrum practices. There can be several issues in Scrum, such as people not being able to easily adjust to a daily meeting where they provide an update on what they have done (some people can consider it humiliating, especially when they are unable to complete items that they stated the previous day that they would). In such cases, the manager can provide a lot of support and coach the team members about how to handle such issues, keeping their morale high, and so on.
– Provides support to the Scrum Master. It is typically the manager of the team member who knows the person, knows their strengths and weaknesses. A Scrum Manager would not know the team member to that level; so when a manager goes through the meetings and sees some areas where there are conflicts, or when a team member is not behaving upto expectation, then it is the manager of the team member who can work in the background, working with the Scrum Master and the team member to resolve issues. This can be a very useful role for the manager and lead to a very high level of contribution for the project.
– Providing reviews. Typically, most managers have a high degree of experience in terms of the artifacts of the project such as the design, architecture, etc. The manager can still do reviews of these, and provide feedback to team members that can actually work to benefit the project, and also help the development of the team member.

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