I was talking with Don Gray this morning about our work on the AYE Conference. I’m the marketing chair, he’s the program chair. We were discussing the sessions we have so far, and I said we could put one of the management sessions into the team effectiveness track. “No,” Don said, “Managers aren’t part of the team.”
Blow me over with a feather. I agree that managers aren’t part of the technical work that their team performs day-to-day (although some of my clients try to use their managers that way). And the more agile the team is, the less the manager can participate in the same way that the developers and testers do. But I thought managers were part of the team.
So, I started thinking about what a team is. Esther and I used Katzenbach’s and Smith’s Wisdom of Teams: Creating the High-Performance Organization as a source in our definition of a team in Behind Closed Doors:
- Teams are small, generally 5-10 members
- Teams are committed to a common purpose or goal
- Teams have an agreed-upon approach to the work
- Team members have complementary skills
- Team members have interrelated or interdependent interim goals
- Team members make commitments about tasks to each other
Here’s what I’ve seen. Yes, the manager (project manager, functional manager, whatever manager is associated with the team) has additional goals than just one project or team’s work, especially if that manager is managing several projects or teams. The manager has additional commitments than just the ones with a given team. And managers who don’t take their commitments to the team seriously are not part of that team. (I’ve been part of teams where we were united in our goals against the managers.)
There’s always a tension between the managers and their management work–especially managing up–and the team’s work. But I guess I’m still missing why great managers are not a part of their teams. Are your managers part of your team?