Management 3.0 from the bottom up

I asked team lead recently about how she was using what she had learned in our Management 3.0 course. She told me it did not apply to her in her role... does it?

Steffan Surdek
June 23, 2016

A few months ago, I delivered a Management 3.0 course for a group of people at one of my consulting clients. I had a mix of team leaders, directors, and general managers in the group. A few weeks after the course, as I was doing my rounds at their office, I bumped into a group of people who attended the course and the trainer/coach in me decided to ask them what they started putting in practice from what they learned in the course.

From the directors, I heard they were working harder at doing better delegation and better understanding the perspectives of their employees, but one person who plays more of a team member role surprised me a bit by her answer:

“You know, it was a really interesting course but I don’t quite see how it applies to me as I am not even a manager.”

The surprise turned into a smile and I replied: “Really? Let’s talk about that!”

Let me share with you what we learned in our conversation.

Delegation Poker … from the bottom up

One of the first topics we engaged in was the Delegation Poker game (read more about it). So, imagine for a moment, you are an employee in a company and your boss is asking you to do something.

Are you always clear as to how much decision-making authority you actually have? Are you clear on how your manager wants to be involved? Your manager may have delegated that task to you, but what kind of delegation is it really?

Let’s quickly go over the seven levels of delegation once again and then examine how we can apply them to the situation:

  1. TELL: The manager imposes a decision to the team.
  2. SELL: The manager makes a decision and sells it to the team.
  3. CONSULT: The manager makes the decision, but has conversations with the team to get their input.
  4. AGREE: The manager and the team make the decision together.
  5. ADVISE: The team makes the decision, but the manager is part of the conversation and can provide input.
  6. INQUIRE: The manager inquires the team after they make the decision.
  7. DELEGATE: The team makes the decision and life goes on.

At this stage, if your manager delegated a task to you, I think we can safely assume you are at least at level 3 (consult), where you are doing the work and you consult your manager for any decisions, and he will be making the decision based on your input.

It could also be level 4 (agree) where you are doing the work and you make decisions with your manager about whatever needs deciding. And it could also be any other of the other levels as well. As an employee, how different would this delegation of tasks or decisions be if you had this clarity?

Now, the other interesting question is how to approach this with your manager. If your manager attended the course, this is actually very easy as you can just engage in a conversation around: “and which delegation level is this?” However, what can you do if your manager does not know about the seven levels of delegation?

A simple approach would be to go see your manager and ask: “Can we try something because I need some clarity here?” Then, you show the Delegation Poker cards, explain the concept, and engage in the conversation.

I am giving this example from the perspective of the ground-level employee, but this concept of introducing it to your boss applies to managers as well. Imagine for a moment, you came to the class and are not sure how to use this with your employees yet, how can you practise using it with your boss so you can better understand what it feels like from the other side of the conversation?

Moving Motivators … from the bottom up

Our next topic of discussion was the Moving Motivators game. As an employee, how can you use the tool from the bottom up? So imagine for a moment there was a “reorg” in the company where you work or you began an Agile transformation a few months ago and you would like to talk about the impact of this change with your manager.

The Moving Motivators game provides a nice frame to have a deeper conversation with your manager. The game allows you to talk from a space of your personal intrinsic needs and will allow your manager to better understand what motivates you personally.

The challenge with the Moving Motivators game is setting up the right space to be able to have that conversation with your manager. If you have weekly (or bi-weekly) 30-minute meetings that seem to go by in a flash and both you and your manager feel rushed during this meeting, trust me this is not the right environment.

To prepare for this conversation, take the time to do the game by yourself, at home or in a quiet space, and take time to reflect on what the cards are showing you. Which intrinsic needs are more important to you? How are these needs being met (or not) in the last few months and what was the trigger for the change?

Then, set the stage and book an extended meeting with your manager (preferably in a different time slot from your regular meeting to signal this meeting will be different). At the start of the meeting, let your manager know you want to experiment with a game to help stimulate and guide the discussion to make it more productive.

There are other ways to prepare for this. I usually tell participants to let their employees know ahead of time about the Moving Motivators game and let them opt in to using that to have a different kind of conversation. The same advice applies here: as an employee, you can let your manager know about the game before setting up a meeting to have a conversation and show them the cards. This demystifies it and makes it safe for everyone.


It turned out our discussion was fun and productive and offered this person a different perspective on some of the Management 3.0 tools. Hopefully the conversation was empowering enough to allow her to find useful ways to use the tools she learned in the course. I promised her at the time that I would turn our discussion into a blog post so here it is for all to see!

As a Management 3.0 facilitator, I create a safe container where participants can explore and reflect on their role as managers in the organization they work for. I also create a safe place where participants can reflect on their personal leadership styles and experience a shift in their perspectives around leadership.

I not only teach the various Management 3.0 tools during the course, I also find myself using many of them when I am working with my own clients. The more I use these tools, the more I realize that using them frames discussions in a useful and productive way between management and employees. Although the conversations these tools create are much more constructive and meaningful, it is important to remember that they must remain ongoing and are never truly over.