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Role of the traditional Teamlead in new Agile Scrum situation

Last post 06:08 am May 29, 2022 by Soumyadeep Mishra
8 replies
06:04 pm May 23, 2022

Hi, the company i work for has made a transition to Agile Scrum teams. In the previous situation we had a teamlead/line manager and one big team. The teamlead/line manager  was the line manager of the people in the team.The company decided to start cutting the team in dedicated teams and tried to adapt the Agile Scrum framework.

In the new situation i am the PO and we have a Scrum Master and a few developers in our team. The two most senior people from the previous teams where promoted to Product Owner, but we also presented as "point of contact" or coordinator for the teams to the rest of the organization. Resulting in the fact that we as PO are also are responsible for the budget. Both i and the other PO are struggling with the fact that our line manager sees us as the sort of coordinators of the teams. Our manager likes to have weekly meetings with us to speak about the work we have to as a scrum team. He really likes to be involved in the work the team has to do, although he starts to let the mandate more and more to the PO.

We tried to convince him that , when he wants to discuss something , we have a sprint review where he can take part as a stakeholder, but then he doesn't feel really involved and has the feeling that he is not completely informed while his line manager keeps him responsible for the progress or quality of work from the scrum team. To be honest i understand his struggle, but i also have the feeling that he only needs to focus on his role as people manager and have 1 to 1 meetings with all the people from the development team instead of organizing meetings with only the PO's + Scrum Masters and not the whole team.

I am wondering if there are any tips and tricks to let our teamlead/line manager give the feeling that he is involved but only by take part in the print review meetings, and maybe more important, to let hem know that the PO is not a coordinator or teamlead in the scrum team, but a role on the same level as all the other roles in a scrum team.

02:48 am May 24, 2022

Every time a manager tells people what to do, a team has been robbed of its ability to self-manage and come up with the best creative solution. The duty of an agile leader is not to control and co-ordinate others, but to facilitate their progress. The servant leadership this entails is an ongoing and involved activity. That's what a Scrum Master needs to explain and exemplify to others.

03:52 pm May 24, 2022

Hi Ian, thanks for your answer. Maybe i should explain the situation a little bit more. It's not really the fact that our teamlead tries to decide what kind of work we should do, but he really wants to be informed about how things are going. For example how do we work together as teams (and what goes wrong), how do we interact with suppliers and co-company's. For example, we explained to him that when the ambiance/motivation in the team is low, we take care of it in a retrospective session. But than he has the feeling he needs to be involved. We as product owners see it as the responsibility of the teams itself, and not something the teamlead should come in between. We have the feeling that we offer some interaction moments for him, but he has the feeling that those moments are not enough, and he can't report the performance and the topics of our teams to his line manager.

Hopes this give a little bit more insight info :-) 

04:45 pm May 24, 2022

While there is no mention of a manager in the Scrum Guide, we all know that reality is that there will be managers.  The Scrum Masters have a responsibility to the organization to help people understand how the framework will benefit and to guide them on how their interactions will help or hinder. 

If you have a lot of people that are inexperienced in their roles, it might be best to find something that will help provide a common ground.  If I were in your place, I'd suggest that all management and all Scrum Team members read the Evidence Based Management (EBM) Guide provided by  (  This guide will provide a common understanding of how to adapt management styles to be better aligned with the Scrum framework. It also provides guidance on how to evaluate the value of the products being produced. 

As @Ian points out, when managers start telling people what to do and how to do it, the people no longer have the ability to self-organize and self-manage.  All benefits of the Scrum framework are voided. 

06:52 pm May 24, 2022

he can't report the performance and the topics of our teams to his line manager.

Is that something he really ought to do as a servant leader to those teams? If not, then why is he doing it? What does the "line manager" actually do with the "report" he provides? What action does he or she then take, which a self-managing team should not really be taking for themselves?

08:04 am May 25, 2022

I feel your pain G, having been in the team lead position myself. Part of the role becomes redundant, and as you say, its understandable that the person is feeling a little left out and perhaps compensating by subverting the scrum process.

The problem arises, in my experience from the dynamic that senior managers are imposing. The team lead's manager is expecting that person to continue to report on what's happening across the team both at a technical level and a at personnel level. So its the flow of information that is the issue and what is stopping your team lead letting go of the delivery & technical side of things and focussing on the pastural care of the team instead.

Have a conversation with the team lead about what can be done to surface the information that he/she is being requested to provide by his manager / stakeholders. Often that information can be derived with minimal friction using automation or some lightweight processes.  

09:52 am May 26, 2022

Thanks Ian and Jack for your clear anwsers. I more and more understand that this situation is a combination of 2 things. 


  • Our manager is someone who is sometimes a "controlfreak" and really like to be informed about whats going on in the teams. This his something to do with his personality and makes the switch from a traditional teamlead to a teamlead with Agile Scrum teams difficult.
  • It look likes the senior managment team still works in the traditional way of management and didn't make the switch to the Agile Scrum Approach. They expect our teamlead to deliver status updates, but he can't provide that much details as before. 

As you said Jack, try to go in the conversation with the teamlead how we can provide him with more information. We already tried several times, but than he comes up with the idea of creating separate meetings with only the PO and the Scrum Master, instead of the whole team. Something we don't want to do. (Planning additional meetings doesn't seem the way to go). Maybe its a good idea to give him a little bit more instruction in how we use our backlog as a team, to make it clear for him what and when we are going to deliver value (work). ?

03:06 pm May 27, 2022

Yep, it's a tough one G, as others have said there isn't strictly a team lead role in scrum. Although, you might be able to find the right scrum ceremonies to accommodate him.

Does he have specific product or reporting requirements or does he want to influence how work is done ? If it's requirements of any type, he has to convince the PO of the benefit as part of the backlog refinement process. If it's ways of working he has to join the retro. It its work breakdown and solutionising he needs to join the spring planning and so on.

I wonder if it will help to  explain to him that there are processes in scrum to accommodate his needs if indeed his needs are beneficial to the customer as that is ultimately the aim of the department. I would say that good internal reporting is indeed beneficial to the customer because it builds stakeholder / senior management confidence and potentially provides funding. These valid requirements can be brought to the PO and the team for prioritisation against other work as part of backlog prioritisation.

Yes, as you say, you might need to train him on how value is produced by the scrum process. 

He might also explore alternative responsibilities. Depending on your organisation there is vendor management, contract management, portfolio planning, release train engineering, capacity / resource management, architectural oversight across multiple teams and maybe others. As well as of course personnel management of the team including objective setting, career path guidance, employee engagement and all the other things people managers do.

06:08 am May 29, 2022

Thanks for all of your comments, this seems to be an interesting topic which happens more often than not in matrix organizations that a lot of us are part of...!

I think its more than providing the Senior Manager (or Team Lead in this case) a visibility into the progress of a Scrum Team by asking them to attend their events (as a spectator only offcourse). The problem here is these Senior Managers are accountable for an entire Program/ Account consisting of multiple Scrum Teams; so they have like 20% Senior Mgmt. allocation to say 5 Scrum Teams that they oversee. In that case it becomes very difficult for them to attend all team's events to understand how they're doing.

This is the reason that they come up with asks of setting up separate meetings/ non-Scrum events where they ask POs/ SMs from these teams to come up & provide them with a 'status report' of their respective Scrum Teams. Worse still, they can ask to fill out a pre-defined Program-level Status Reporting template that they come up with...

Case in point is mine where I (working as a Scrum Master for my team) need to fill out Weekly Status Reports along with my other fellow Scrum Masters and present it to Senior Mgmt once a week. Since these reports are highly subjective, these cannot be possibly automated as well...

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