What is My Role as an Agile Manager?

Question: What is My Role as an Agile Manager?

As your company adopts Agile methodologies, your role as a traditional manager is certain to be affected. The question is, will you thrive or just survive?

The answer lies in your new role as an Agile manager, and how it differs from what you do now. Let’s take a look at some of the similarities and differences you can expect to experience as your company works through an agile transformation.

Agile Manager

What Remains the Same?

As the organization goes agile, certain aspects of your role remain essentially unchanged, such as:

    • Managing budgets – if project or department budgets fall under your oversight, you’ll still need to manage those. While you may see certain line items and allocations change as agile processes are tested and implemented, the basic budgetary process won’t.
    • Recruiting, hiring and firing – while your view of optimal candidates may adjust as you see what type of person works best within your organization’s Agile framework, the basic recruiting functions will still be yours to manage.
    • Setting expectations, best practices – as an agile leader, you’re team will still look to you for benchmarking and monitoring expectations, periodic reviews, and adherence to cultural and technical best practices.
    • Putting out fires – inevitably, problems will occasionally arise that the individual or the team will not be able to solve on their own. As the manager, it’s still your responsibility to take that ball and run with it so everyone can get back to work.

As you can see, the routine management skills of running the business and working with people are mostly unchanged. You can transition into this new role confident that you haven’t wasted the last X-number of years in your current career path.

However, there are some aspects of your daily interactions with team members and workflow that will be dramatically altered by going agile:

What Managers are Responsible for in the Agile World:

    • Champion the Agile Process – as a manager, you will be expected to get behind the move to agile and support it in both your words and your actions. Key tip: learn as much as you can as early as possible in the transition so you can honestly communicate its benefits and drum up support.
    • Guide Teams to Solve Problems – ScrumMasters and Product Owners will be new positions to the organization, and may in some cases absorb responsibilities you previously held. Their confidence and the level of respect they earn from their teams will depend to a large extent on how you treat them, especially early on. Avoid micromanagement and overstepping their authority, but be sure to observe and mentor them in their new roles.
    • Participate in Transition Planning – Agile transformation promotes self-organized teams that work efficiently on their own, which involves strategic planning. It’s up to management to facilitate multi-team interaction and collaboration to meet overarching department or organizational goals.
    • Find Ways to Reduce Waste – as an Agile manager, you will be expected to continually improve workflow and maximize efficiency by eliminating impediments, which may not be part of your current role as a manager.

The best way to attack an Agile transformation with confidence to empower team members to make daily decisions, and let go of control. As teams self-organize, they’ll still turn to you when problems arise, but will expect you to guide them rather than save them.

One way to learn how to motivate and inspire to view our popular role-based Agile for Managers webinar.


For a more personalized experience, consider an Agile for Managers private coaching session.