One of the most common antipatterns in Daily Scrums/Stand-up Meetings is the involvement of the active managers. Note: for the sake of brevity I will use the term “Daily” instead of repeating the full name of this meeting).  If you read no further, I recommend managers stay away from the Daily. While managers at the Daily are not forbidden or bad per se there are all sorts of common negative outcomes. Below I highlight four of the worst: 

  • Grilling The Team – Turning the Daily into a status meeting where deviation from the leader’s plan is highlighted and even punished. This behavior makes it difficult to ever generate an agile mindset.   
  • Doling Out Work – Leaders that use the Daily to assign work stop teams from learning to self-organize and shortcut the team-planning goal of the meeting. I asked a manager why they were handing out work in the Daily, the reply was I am responsible to make sure everyone is busy. Doling out the work in the meeting means that the manager must have a handle on all the stories and tasks needed to get something done, dragging them close to the need to micromanage the work. The Daily is a team planning event in agile whose goal clashes with this approach.
  • Showboating – The perception of your manager (or the person renewing your contract) is important to your career. There is a basic human tendency to make sure you look good to the boss, in some cases at the expense of your peers. This behavior is not conducive to sharing problems, asking for help, or replanning.
  • Disinterest – I recently observed a manager that came to the Daily every day and spent the whole time doing things on their phone. When addressed, they looked shocked that anyone was talking to them. After the fourth day, I was able to corral the person and have a chat. Their agile training stated that they had to go to the Daily, but they did not want to be there. They were being passive-aggressive. They did not come back after that and everyone felt more comfortable. As a manager, if you are going to go to the Daily (please don’t) listen and pay attention.

As a rule, managers should find a reason to be anywhere but at the Daily.  As with all rules, there are exceptions. For example, the player-manager scenario, where a practitioner on the team is also the manager. I have heard scenarios where a manager’s presence was useful, but I have heard those stories from managers not from teams.