The Transformation of the Manager's Role in Self-Organizing Teams

Self-organizing teams are a key element of the Agile approach. They are characterized by the ability to autonomously make decisions, organize their work, and quickly respond to changing conditions without the need for constant external supervision. The goal of such teams is to maximize efficiency and innovation by leveraging the collective intelligence and competencies of all team members.

The Transformation of the Manager's Role in Self-Organizing Teams

In the traditional model, the manager is responsible for resource management, monitoring progress, and ensuring that goals are met according to plan. In the context of self-organizing teams, however, the manager's role requires significant transformation. Instead of the classic role of a controller, the manager must transition to the role of a facilitator who supports the team in achieving its goals. Key areas of responsibility for the manager in this new context include:

  • Identifying and removing obstacles that may hinder the team's work;
  • Providing necessary resources, such as tools, information, and training;
  • Monitoring the team's progress, acting as support and advisor rather than imposing control;
  • Ensuring effective communication within the team and with external stakeholders.

The Manager in the Agile Context - New Challenges and Expectations

Implementing the Agile approach requires managers to be more flexible, trust the team, and support its autonomy. The key challenges include:

  • Adapting to a supportive rather than controlling role;
  • Creating open communication and delegating responsibilities to build trust within the team;
  • Supporting the team in striving for self-organization, which may involve abandoning some traditional management methods;
  • Finding a balance between control and team autonomy to ensure effectiveness.

Practical Aspects of the Manager's Role in Self-Organizing Teams

To effectively fulfill the role of a manager in self-organizing teams, it is essential to adopt practices and approaches that support the team's autonomy and efficiency. The manager should support the team in organizing and executing processes such as Sprint planning, retrospectives, and daily stand-up meetings, while also acting as a coach and mentor, fostering the development of individual team members and helping them reach their full potential. Promoting a culture of transparency and openness, where all team members can freely share ideas and feedback, is also crucial. The manager must help resolve internal team conflicts to maintain a positive atmosphere and high productivity and ensure that the team has access to necessary tools, information, and resources to enable efficient work. Adapting to these new challenges and practices is crucial for managers who want to effectively support self-organizing teams and achieve goals in the spirit of Agile.

Levels of Maturity in Teams

Depending on the level of maturity, leaders in different teams will have different approaches to solving problems. Here is a visualization:

  • Level 1 is the lowest level - a young, learning team or leader.
  • Level 5 is the highest level - a mature leader or a mature team.

The optimal solution is to have mixed sets: if the team is young, it should have an experienced leader; if the team is mature, the leader can have less experience, which allows for continuous mutual learning and challenges.

From the organization's perspective, having both a mature team (at level 5) and a leader at level 5 is an absolute waste of money and competencies. The team already knows how to operate, and the leader gets bored.