Insights from a senior manager in one of the biggest automotive suppliers of the world, by Simon Hiller
June, 2021: I have successfully shaped my dream team of ten manufacturing engineers during my first three years as a manager in the line organization. Now I am fully concentrating on enhancing our team performance even more.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, an organizational restructuring is announced: I have to take over a new group with unknown colleagues and a new, innovative product portfolio with highly complex processes.
My first thoughts were: ‘Why now, when I have just created the perfect team to really excel at all levels?’
After a few days of feeling sorry for myself I managed to clear my mind and look at it from a completely different angle: Now I will have the unique chance to restart with a new team from scratch. So instead of fear and sorrow I was quickly filled with excitement and curiosity. The main question I asked myself was: How can I support this new team in order to make our start a successful ‘rocket launch’?
After the first team meetings I prepared an official ‘Transition Workshop’ for two main reasons: Firstly, to accelerate the ‘Forming’ stage of the group (see Tuckman’s stages of group development). Secondly, to create a team spirit and team identity as soon as possible. With the help of a moderator, we had a great start into our team day. After some fun exercises to get to know each other and our strengths, we focused on shaping our identity based on Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle.
During the intense discussion, the team’s need for Autonomy and Empowerment went up again and again. Naturally this became one of the pillars of our purpose: Innovative and Powerful Products by Empowered People – To Secure the Future. But since we hardly knew each other, I kept wondering – what does this even mean for each colleague and how do we apply this to different situations in our daily business?
Thankfully the moderator and I had anticipated the team’s desire for autonomy, so we were well-prepared. Being a constant learner, I had heard about Delegation Poker by Management 3.0 several times during the past months and I was eager to try it out. What other situation could have been more fitting than a new team coming together physically for the first time, trying to clarify and extend its level of autonomy?
After a quick introduction into the method and its rules, we could hardly wait to start playing. We decided to begin with a topic that seemed to be rather straightforward: Vacation planning. Two aspects of the game really stood out during this first experience:
- On one hand it was very interesting to hear the opinions of the “outliers” after each round.
- On the other hand, having heard these debates and reflecting, some of the team members including myself actually changed their minds – that was really a surprise to us.
After playing three rounds we came to a common agreement: From now on the delegation level for ‘Vacation planning’ will be level 5: Consult.
Afterwards we aligned to tackle a more complex topic: Staffing.
After round two and very vivid and controversial discussions we decided to split the topic into two cases:
- Internal Staffing (within the organization of our production plant)
- External staffing (outside of our organization).
Splitting the complex topic made it easier for the team to come to a consensus. After playing Delegation Poker several rounds for each topic we came to a conclusion:
- Internal Staffing will be done in the traditional way by the manager (level 2: Sell).
- Staffing of plant-external employees will be done in a new way via team staffing (level 4: Agree).
During the game I realized there are two aspects the manager has to take care of:
- He/she needs to be genuinely willing to hand over responsibilities to the team and to accept the results regardless of his/her opinion.
- But the team has obligations, too: The team needs to be willing to take over these responsibilities and to implement – and if necessary, refine – the definitions.
To sum it up: Gamification is one of the trending buzzwords in the business and I had questioned critically for some time because I had not seen any good examples at my company. Thankfully, playing Delegation Poker with my team proved me wrong. This is definitely the best method to empower your team and increase transparency about the level of delegation in decision making.
The best evidence, how much fun this great method is: Although our ‘Transition Workshop’ was over, everyone wanted to continue playing.
Want to learn more on how to empower your team? Continue here:
- Delegation and Empowerment module (discussed in Foundation Workshop and Agility in HR Workshop)
- How to make the Delegation Board work for your team
- Applying Delegation Poker to mentor a new Scrum Master
- Delegation Skills: The Importance of Delegating Tasks
- Podcast: Loving Delegation Poker
- More Management 3.0 Case Stories