Usually when talking about delegation people is focused on “I do it” and “You do it”, however delegation is not a binary or black & white issue and I think is reasonable to have a grayscale between this two edges.
For this reason, one year ago, talking about delegation inside the team I work for we decided to play to “delegation poker” a Management 3.0 game which helps teams in order to define and clarify who is in charge of what and in which level.
Delegation poker is a stack of cards, from 1 to 7 (which represent delegation levels). Levels 1 to 3 are simetric with 5 to 7 but first one talk about manager and the second about team members delegation, level 4 is in between to sides:
- Tell → I will tell them.
- Sell → I will try and sell it to them.
- Consult → I will consult and then decide.
- Agree → We will agree together.
- Advise → I will advise but they decide.
- Inquire → I will inquire after they decide.
- Delegate → I will fully delegate.
Each round we talk about a concrete task or issue, then everybody choose a card (face down) and when everybody is ready, we turn the card up and show what have chosen. At this point, we compare what each of us think about the delegation level, then the biggest and lowest tell to all why they decide this level, afterwards we have a little time to think about and make some changes in what we have chosen previosuly, when all agree we could move on. If there is a big disagreement we could move this topic to a more concrete meeting.
Our delegation board
With this game, you have the opportunity to build a delegation board based on the delegation levels all team did.
Then in our IT team manager and team decided to choose a set of tasks we would like to talk about. I have to say that people felt really engaged with the game (especially veterans) because we talked about things we never talked before, we were discussing important things for the health of the team and also because we were showing our feelings and ways of work. In this first time, we talked about more or less 12 topics, like: holidays, hiring people, new technologies, release management, assessements, priorities, salaries, etc.
We build a board and we uploaded it to our Confluence space where all of us have access and we can check it every time we need. Thanks to this, now we have a public calendar (inside the Confluence) where every body can share their holidays, sick leave, and if they will arrive late or go early because theses issues gone to a level 6 of delegation. Surprisingly people decided a level 3 on hiring people, so they don’t want to actively get involved on this process but they want to get informed.
Other interesting things were new technologies, assessments and salary. New technologies, development team moved one step forward and decided a level 5, in order to take more ownership, that sound great because the team is made by people with great IT experience. Assessment on the other side, although it went to a level 3 we decided to do a 360 feedback workshop, in order to get feedback from colleagues. Salary was a bit weird, because at the beginning people were sceptic, maybe is a cultural point, and for these reason I think people choose a level 3, however we are developing a salary formula where all people could colaborate as our team values show.
Finally, other issues were more easy because people choose the delegation level and agree very quickly. But the point is that having this delegation board now we can check it in order to know if we are doing what we choose and to add more things if we miss them inside the board.
In my humble opinion, I think this game is more powerful than it looks because all team play together, using cards everybody will talk (even introverted people), it’s easy to start short and healthy debates, you are going to talk about things teams unfortunately usually don’t talk about, playing you usually build a security environment where you can express openly what you think.