When your organization begins an agile transformation, implementing a new workplace philosophy with self-organized teams can leave managers unsure of their new role. The agile methodology emphasizes autonomy in a less hierarchical way than traditional methods (to learn more about agile methodology, click here). Leaders that adapt to this change and become effective, non-intrusive managers help their company enjoy the benefits of a large organization’s size and scale along with a small organization’s speed and nimbleness. Although agile is rising in popularity more recently, autonomous self-managed teams are not new to the business world. It is important for managers to not get lost in the shuffle of this transition and instead embrace their new role as agile leaders.

The Agile Manager

Human Resources plays an essential role in preparing employees for the future of work and helping them adapt to the agile changes taking place. However, the agile manager also has an important part in assisting employees with their career development. Managers should actively coach individuals and teams to advance their skills and career goals during an agile transformation. Likewise, a manager must illustrate the values and mindset of agile leadership as an example for others still adjusting. Explaining the evolution of the role, SolutionsIQ says that “today’s companies need leaders, not managers.” Communication with coworkers of all roles is vital for the agile manager. To download the Planbox brochure How to Communicate Your Innovation Program, click here.

New Responsibilities and Opportunities

Helping teams acquire and develop new skills brings other new responsibilities and opportunities to the role of agile manager. As the manager removes himself from the team’s daily work, he takes a more active training role. This requires a knowledge of valuable employee resources and adaptability to the new way of work. Agile promotes cross-department collaboration, and as a result, the manager’s sphere of influence is likely to increase. The manager may become responsible for more than one team, and these teams may require cross-functional skills. Transparency is another key aspect of a successful agile transition, so the manager should create a work environment that values open communication and honesty. Innovation will increase when employees feel free and safe to experiment, even when it means possible failure. In our previous blog on 5 Tips for Creating Successful Innovation Team, we identify some of the key characteristics of agile teams.

Not Everything Changes

Many responsibilities do change and are often transferred over to the self-organizing teams; however, there are a few aspects of the role that remain the same. The agile manager continues to supervise the team’s work to ensure that it aligns with the company’s vision and values. When obstacles arise that interfere with the team’s ability to complete their goals, the manager steps in to remove any obstacles. Furthermore, managers also continue to define the team’s business objectives as they relate to the company. These responsibilities will be familiar to most managers from their more traditional roles.

Transferring Some Responsibilities

The promotion of self-organizing teams is one of the biggest changes a business encounters during an agile transformation. Many traditional manager responsibilities are then transferred to the teams. One of the first roles transferred over is the task of choosing tools and methods. It is important for the agile manager to clearly define objectives so that the team can decide on the best methods and tools to accomplish their goals. Hiring, integrating, and even letting go members of the team is often the team’s role. This is successful when the team has received the right training and support from their manager. Since agile managers are removed from daily tasks and activities, the team is also responsible for individual performance reviews. It is important for the agile manager to understand what responsibilities are no longer a part of their role and how they can best aid the team in taking over those responsibilities.

Although an agile transformation impacts the role of the manager, the manager nonetheless remains an important part of the company. Even as responsibilities are transferred away from the role, the evolution of managerial leadership becomes more significant. At all times, the agile manager should coach and develop employees. For an organization as a whole, successful agile transformations mean continuous innovation and a stronger, more engaged workforce. To learn more about Planbox solutions that make agile transformations smoother, click here.



  1. https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/the-agile-manager
  2. https://www.scaledagileframework.com/the-evolving-role-of-managers/
  3. https://audacium.com/en/transitioning-to-the-role-of-agile-manager-what-does-it-involve/
  4. https://www.solutionsiq.com/resource/blog-post/what-makes-an-effective-agile-manager/