In a traditional environment, a technical team manager is responsible for prioritization, task distribution and progress control, among other non-technical responsibilities such as people management, new employees training and team representation to the rest of the organization.
As soon as a team becomes agile:
- prioritization is now in the hands of the PO (Product Owner), who manages the product backlog;
- task distribution is now in the hands of the entire team, and the distribution is done daily, during the planning meeting and the daily stand-up meetings;
- progress control is now in the hands of the Scrum Master.
So, what’s left for the manager?
Besides the non-technical responsibilities mentioned above (people management, new employees training and team representation to the rest of the organization), there’s now room for other responsibilities:
- help the Scrum Master remove the barriers to a successful sprint and overall agile adoption;
- help the Scrum Master coach and mentor the team members on the new process;
- revise the product backlog with the PO in order to bring a technical view of the stories.
- technical research, looking for new technologies and tendencies that could help the team;
- increase the focus on the technical strategic planning.
There are cases where the manager assumes the role of Scrum Master, so she embraces 1. and 2. In other cases the manager assumes the role of PO, due to her strong business acumen, so she embraces 3.
It is not unusual to find a manager who decides to leave the organization, due to the fact that she is unable to find her place in the new agile organization.
However, as we could see, there are many responsibilities and new chalenges left to the manager. The key is to figure out where the manager fits better both in her perspective and in the organization’s perspective.