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Executive Summary

In this article, I discuss the role of Managers in Scrum. I look to the Scrum Guide first, and then discuss some other ideas not specifically from the Scrum Guide. In short, the role of Managers in Scrum is to:
  • collaborate with the Scrum Team on Release Planning
  • collaborate with the Scrum Team in Sprint Reviews
  • influence, but not contradict, the work priorities as decided by the Product Owner
  • receive teaching and coaching on Scrum from the Scrum Masters
  • not interfere with the Scrum implementation
  • assist the Scrum Team in removing organizational impediments
I also speak to the role of those outside of the Scrum Team in general, which includes managers of course.


A common question when trying to implement Scrum is, "What is the role of management, or a manager, in Scrum?" By managers here, we're talking about someone who plays a management role, As such, in certain contexts, we might be talking about someone with one of the following titles:
  • Manager
  • Functional Manager
  • Team Lead
  • Project Lead(er)
  • Project Manager
  • Senior Manager
  • Director of Software Development
  • Product Manager
  • Business Manager
  • Or, any other similar title that describes similar management responsibilities.

Some other thoughts on the role of Managers

Since the Scrum Guide tells us to figure out what to do for anything not explicitly stated in the Scrum Guide, here are my thoughts on that topic:
  • The Best Managers will become "enabling leaders" to enable the organization to benefit from Scrum/Agile.
    • The very best managers will be change agents as part of an enablement team utilizing "Evidence Based Management for Software Organizations(tm)".
      • For more info on Evidence Based Management, contact us to give your company's leadership team a free 30 minute webinar. In short, EBM helps management teams maximize the profits from their software products, whether those products service internal or external customers.
    • Most organizations are still structured to fit their traditional/waterfall way of working, so managers can help re-organize the company and help to remove traditional obstacles, to maximize the business benefits of Scrum.
  • The Best Managers will work as a servant leader for the Scrum Team.
    • Examples include, but are not limited to, acquiring/providing company resources for
      • team celebrations
      • training
      • software tools
      • office supplies
      • highly effective team workspaces
  • The Best Managers are excellent resources for assisting in removing organizational impediments.
    • One of these organizational impediments might be that the Scrum Team itself is struggling with Scrum. Managers of those on Scrum Teams can help remove this impediment by obtaining resources such as: training, other internal ScrumMasters to consult with, or an outside Scrum Coach.
  • Managers can and probably should encourage the team to improve its technical qualities and capabilities, though they should not dictate how this should be accomplished.
  • Managers can assist with prioritizing technical debt items, though final decisions on priorities should remain with the Scrum Team.
  • Managers generally assist with staffing issues.
    • The Scrum Guide specifically says the Scrum Team should retrospect on team composition, but it doesn't get any more specific on that topic(like who makes staffing decisions, etc)
  • Managers generally provide assistance with human resource duties such as:
    • Creating the method for performance appraisals
      • Managers, in my opinion, should give strong weight to the Scrum Team member's ability contribute as a Scrum "Team Player"
    • Executing the performance appraisals
      • Managers should almost never play a role on a Scrum team where that manager conducts performance appraisals for anyone on that Scrum Team. Doing so is a huge risk to the roles of Scrum, as well as the self organizational nature of Scrum Teams.
  • Other ways Managers can possibly add value
    • Have a (non Scrum) meeting once or twice a week with the PO and SM for each team to help remove organizational impediments.
    • Do one on ones with all team members that report to them, in order to resolve personal obstacles and provide career development.
    • Management by walking around.
    • See the links below for other ways managers in Scrum can add value.
    • In all of these other ways above, the key for the manager is to be a servant leader to the Scrum team and its members, and to not interfere with the Scrum implementation.

Other resources for the role of managers in Scrum