The manager's role is simple to say and quite difficult to do:
- Create an environment of psychological safety.
- Make sure people have the tools and knowledge to do the work.
- Trust the people to do their work.
Here are some ways the manager can create that environment:
- Help people know what their purpose is. It's possible the manager (or a manager) might have to help people create a project charter. In the case of a workgroup, the team might have to charter itself so they know their purpose.
- Help the people learn how to provide each other feedback and coaching, so they can learn (master) the domain and necessary technical skills. In addition, when the entire team can provide each other feedback and coaching, they learn to depend on each other.
- Help the team learn to create small, safe-to-fail experiments so they can be autonomous in how they work, and master their skills.
That means that managers do less work with the team.
Managers don't control, dictate, or tell people what to do. Instead, managers pay attention to the team's environment and culture.
The manager protects the team from people-based disruption, which can run the gamut from multitasking to people entering or exiting the team too frequently before the team has a chance to build trust with each other.
The manager might create team building activities: up to a day of work where the team has to focus as a team to finish work. (I'm talking about the work the team does at work, not ropes courses or any other physical activity.) I find swarming and mobbing excellent team building activities. You don't need to be agile to use swarming or mobbing. They work on any project.
Sometimes, the most difficult part for a manager is trusting people to do the work. If you're a manager, you might ask these questions:
- When will I see any progress?
- When will you tell me about any problems I might want to know about?
- When do you need me to help you?
These questions and their answers can help create a collaboration between the manager and the team that does not involve controlling what the team does.
-- Johanna Rothman