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Scrum Master tips when a PO is also acting as Manager

Last post 09:21 am June 6, 2022 by Michael Lloyd
2 replies
02:08 am June 5, 2022

What are some initial steps & conversations you have when joining a team where the PO is also acting as the manager for the Developers? How do you create a safe space during Retrospectives in this dynamic? 

01:19 pm June 5, 2022

How does the PO propose to stop being their manager? Is that conversation happening...and if not, why not?

09:21 am June 6, 2022

What do you mean by 'manager'? 

Are they a people/line manager that has HR reporting lines for things like sick leave? 

Or are they an old fashioned 'Your job is to do what I say, performance review at the end of the year' kind of manager? 

If it's the former, I'd say you just need to have a conversation about how to make clear to the team that there is no conflict and try to reinforce PO behaviours to defer to the team, and not offer decisions or opinions on the work until the team is comfortable.

If it's the latter, I think you need to have a much more direct conversation with both the PO and any key leaders in the org about Scrum teams importance of lack of internal hierachy. 

Make clear that they can either choose to do scrum, in which case the 'manager' role MUST go away, or they are choosing not to do scrum. 

Talk about the values and accountabilites, and how they cannot be succesful when a person in the team has power over others. 

My experience tells me it won't be easy, so start thinking about how to make sure the problems created by this dysfunction are transparent, and most importantly, do NOT be tempted to try to patch over them with bad habbits.