Becoming a supervisor changes things dramatically at work for you. It did for me and Simon helped me by openly providing deep insights into his years of a supervisor – especially his failures and dramatic moments.

In this episode, Simon shares his ups and downs for you to learn from. Leading statisticians of course has many commonalties with any other administrative leadership position. However, it also includes some specific problems.

  • If you are a new or aspiring supervisors, you will learn about the specific challenges and how to overcome or avoid them.
  • If statisticians already report to you, you will get confidence and some tips on doing things differently.
  • If you report to a new supervisors, you may better understand the situation your new boss is in.

Some further resources for managing people, which helped me a lot, are:


Being a supervisor – things you would love to have known before you became one … or that you should know if you want to become one

You are listening to episode number 31 of the Effective Statistician Podcast. Being a supervisor thinks you would love to have known before you became one or that you should know if you want to become one. Welcome to the Effective Statistician with Alexander Schacht and Benjamin Piske. The weekly podcast for statisticians in the health sector design too.

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Please be aware that the deadline for the PSI conference is approaching. It’s ending on 23rd of November. The deadline for the oral presentations ends for the abstracts. So please submit something.

In today’s episode we’ll chat about leadership and here actually about administrative leadership. So this is a little bit different from the other episodes that we have about leadership. Here it’s really about managing people. And I’m very, very proud that we have a special guest here, Simon Cliel from Biogen, who will talk to us and chat with us about his experiences as a supervisor.

This is also a little bit different from the sound you will hear at the beginning of the episode why. This podcast is created in association with PSI.

global member organization dedicated to leading and promoting best practice and industry initiatives. Join PSI today to further develop your statistical capabilities with access to the special interest groups, video on demand content library, free registration to all PSI webinars and much much more. Just visit the PSI website at to learn more about PSI activities and become a PSI member.

Okay, we have another episode of the Effective Statistician and this term is actually something that we have never done before. It’s actually a complete face-to-face interview that we are recording here alongside the PSI conference in Amsterdam in 2018. And with me in the room are, as usual, my co-host Benjamin. Hello. And we have Simon, Simon Kiel. Hello. Okay. So…

This is also has another special thing for me because when I first became supervisor, Simon was actually my mentor to get me kind of a little bit learning from him what he did.

Well, what he didn’t do well, he shared all these kind of things with me and that was so helpful for me when I was first supervisor that I thought it’s probably likely helpful for others that want to become supervisors or that are just new supervisors. And as…

People management is a very, very complex topic. This is probably even interesting for those that are long-time supervisors. If you’re not a supervisor, then that might be interesting for you because you might understand your supervisor better. Because supervising, as we will see, has lots of different aspects.

Okay, so let’s go into the little bit of an introduction. Simon, maybe best you introduce yourself. Sure. So I work for Biogen in the UK. I’m the…

biometric site head for our office there, which means there’s a team of 14 folk and I provide some local support to them. I don’t supervise them all, but I provide some local support for them and I lead one of the therapeutic areas that Biogen has from a biostatistics point of view. I’ve been there a couple of years now and before that I had just under 18 years at Eli Lilly in the UK and before that I spent some time working in academia.

with people we’ve heard from this week. In fact, Nigel Stallard who spoke yesterday was a colleague of mine in academia. Sue Todd who’s part of the PSI committee was also in the same research unit with Nigel and myself. And I also worked at the EORTC, the cancer research group in Brussels for a year. So that’s my work history. Very good. But today we’ll kind of focus a little bit more on your supervisory journey and your learnings.


So if you remember back in time when you first became supervisor, what was your kind of training that you had at that time? What kind of training did you get to get into those new responsibilities?

What I had when I first got a supervisory role at Lillie was a fairly standard new supervisor training course which really just covered the legal aspects of what one needs to do as a supervisor and at that time it was a UK based team and therefore it was based of course in solely in UK law. If you supervise across international borders that can be a little bit more complex of course but it was basically a legal.

Cranborough and after a year or so there was more of a skills-based thing. So get be legal first and then you know learn the skills once you’ve got some experience so you have some things some experiences you can call on. But I think

I’m actually going to totally ruin your podcast by taking you on a different tangent because I was thinking about this when you said this is what you’d like to talk about, about how I actually became a supervisor because at that time our entire management structure was based in the United States and I think I largely got the chance to be a supervisor because I’m talkative and opinionated.

and people paid attention to that. I don’t think, and history will play out, that it wasn’t any innate supervisory skills or people management skills that I had shown at all, but I think I was very confident about my opinions, overly so in fact, and when they were looking for somebody to build up a group in the UK, because of that I stood out. Now that I think is

an interesting way to get into supervision, because it’s not really very intentional. You share some opinions about we ought to do this, we should do that, and the next thing you know, would you like to lead this group? So how did you feel about that? Well I am, and I think there is a subset of folk who have this, I mean I loved it.

I like the idea of having authority and being able to shape the way a group is and a company is and it played to my enthusiasm and to my ego which has good bits and bad bits about it and I think that if I could travel back in time and meet that sideboard I’d probably slap him very hard because it was a very misguided set of motivation.

But that’s what happened. I do think one of the things I’ve learned over many years of supervision is that if you’re not motivated by people, it’s almost impossible to do. And that sounds a blindingly obvious thing to say, but people’s motivation for taking particularly first line…

supervisor positions are normally enormously varied and the one I described is not entirely unusual. People do it because they like the idea of the power.

people do it because they like the idea that it’s a seniority thing. A title thing. Right, people do it because they want to shape the company which is great but that’s not to do with people, that’s to do with strategy and structure and processes and all sorts of things. People do it because they’re technically really really strong and therefore they’re now the technical lead for a given program oh and by the way that comes with some people.

So there are lots and lots and lots of motivations folk have to take supervisory positions that are nothing to do with people. It’s to do with everything else around it. I think probably the key thing I’ve learnt is if you’re not about the people, if you’re not interested and invested in the people.

it is an absolute uphill struggle. I’m sure there are some people in the world who are perfectly competent supervisors not being particularly invested in the people, but I’m certainly not one of them, and I couldn’t do the job on that basis. So I do think one really needs to have that motivation. I know it sounds horribly trite, but I think it’s really important.

being interested in the people, what does that mean? That’s a good question, I should be careful what I say, clearly. I think you’ve got to want the people that you’re responsible for to be able to fulfill their potential, whatever that means.

challenging and rapid growth. It could be challenging topics. It might be learning to deal with a particular, you know, gap or something that’s inhibiting them. It may be around confidence. It may be about

maybe not fulfilling your potential in your particular current organisation. It may just be that that’s not possible, but for me I kind of feel that everyone deserves the right, and the world’s not fair, but everyone deserves the right to be successful. I don’t think anyone deserves the right to be successful in the exact position in the company they’re in right now, because that might not fit. Right, you know, but I do think people have the right

professional success and i i’d say i think it’s helping people fulfill their potential it’s it’s wanting them to do well and and and number of years ago uh… when the cd before the car one started a little where i was at the time he had been cd for a year and he put a book posting out and he asked for feedback

and this is a company of 40,000 people and I think 38 of us wrote something, which is a fairly poor return. But I talked about this and one of the things I suggested in my little bit of feedback to him was that I would make within that company, all people with supervisory responsibilities, 50% of their end of year assessment should be down to what their people do and nothing to do with what they do as individuals.

So nothing about their individual contributions to drug development or whatever, but about what they’re doing with their people, how they’re growing the people, the contributions of their people. So for me, it’s that kind of focus. It’s a very interesting story that you kind of got into the position before getting trained or understanding what it is, because it happened to me quite similar also. I didn’t have time really to get into the position.

develop into the position but really got put into the position because I said, well, yeah, I could think about it. It’s a good thing to have management responsibility and kind of these things. But when you look back and before you slap that guy in the face, so just go one year later, so what would you describe as mistakes or…

things that would not have happened to you as a supervisor or even to your team in case you would have had the chance to really develop into the position more slowly and work on that. Yeah, I mean, I think, I mean, there are still people who are members of PSI who were in my team at that time and I will be quite open. I was a horrible supervisor. I had no clue what I was doing, in fact.

and i was in many ways the living cliche of everything you hear about technical folks going into supervision uh… now i’ve learned a little bit over the years since then but at the time there and it was pretty horrible only felt i had some decent management ideas that’s kind of what got me the opportunity in the first place of being opinionated about stuff other than just technical statistics but i have nothing like a management temperament

And, you know, there were so many things I was unprepared for. A lot of them blindingly obvious. But I think one of the things that perhaps wasn’t, and this gets out to, I was not ready for people to listen to me. What do you mean by that? So…

I had been a statistician, you know, working on various programmes and I became a first-level supervisor and all of a sudden I was management. And every little thought or aside or off-the-cuff comment became, well, management has said. And I was totally unprepared for that and I remember one colleague of mine storming into my office quite upset.

about some inconsistency or hypocrisy or some such because I was saying X and that’s not what I had said previously and you know etc etc and she was she was very upset and I was in hindsight glad she actually felt she’d come talk to me about it but she was she was very upset about it and at the end I said when did I when did I say that?

with a coffee machine, you know, three weeks ago. And I was like, oh my goodness, I mean, that was at best a one-tenth formed thought. You know, I’m just throwing stuff out there and, you know, Alexander, you know me well, I think aloud. I was not prepared for, you know, these random, tiny little snippets of ideas.

to sort of be management has said. So I was very unprepared for that. I was deeply unprepared for real technical things around communication like tone and body language and all of the stuff you learn on a communication skills course, which I had done and I knew, but I was unprepared for.

how all of that is magnified so much. You know, this is just my experience, you know, I’m not saying this is a universal thing. But how much is magnified? But especially if you have very junior people and say are very unexperienced and maybe also not that confident.

Then they even more rely on what the supervisor is saying and maybe not directly challenging or questioning or double checking and then just a random thought. Exactly, with the wrong tone. Triggers action. Absolutely and the thing on the communication skills, I think for people who have children, this may help.

People always say things like, well you know no two children are the same.

and and and when you’re a father of or mother of one child you go oh yes i know i know and you know this you understand this it’s there in your brain and then your second child comes along and you sort of go oh my gosh they really are nothing alike at all are they and even though you knew it in your brain the moment you actually experience it it it seems to have a whole new dimension to it and for me this idea of tone and body language and all the stuff you’ve been taught on lots of courses

suddenly took on a whole new dimension because it starts, the consequences of that play out right in front of your eyes. So for me that was a real genuine shock. So that had a lot to do then with self-awareness of how you are perceived by others? Yes, yes I would say. And I think…

A lot of how I reflect back on that time obviously is because we’re 20 years later now and there’s a lot of time that’s passed and thought that has gone into it. But that is an example of something that at the time, when this particular colleague said it was at the coffee machine three weeks ago that some light bulb lit up and I was like, oh goodness, okay. And really had to rethink my approach.

which was challenging because it’s an approach that I’ve grown up with through my technical path for half a dozen to a dozen years leading up to that. I think it’s from one moment to the other, you’re to your team, the face of the company.

You represent the company to so-called reporters. You’re not the colleague anymore that you used to be. You’re the manager. It’s really like just changing like this. I think something I’ve tried to do over the last few years in my career is trying to demystify that a little. I don’t think that’s a helpful construct at all. And I’ve tried to demystify that. I hope I have.

colleagues to see if this is true but I hope I have a fairly open style where unless I’ve specifically been told something is confidential you know I’m happy to talk about it and share it and I’m lucky enough I work with a really great team where I can share an opinion as an opinion so here is my opinion

I would say it’s how it is, but that’s a very nice situation to be in and not necessarily a common one. Yeah, and this is something that the team has to learn as well, because this is a process, because the first time they perceive you as your manager, as the company, the face of the company, and they also have to learn that you are still part of the team. I think one thing…

and I’ll be really intrigued to know whether this is true in the pharmaceutical industry as it is today. But back in 2000 when I was first a supervisor…

There was a, I had a real sense that as a statistician on a multidisciplinary team, then I was the undisputed expert in statistics. There was nobody in that room, there was nobody in those project teams who knew more about statistics than I did, even though I was fairly career young, because I was the statistician. And so, people might ask you what is and isn’t possible, but generally speaking,

for the big major chunk of your job which is statistics, nobody challenged you on that. And then you go to supervision and suddenly everyone’s an expert in supervision. Everyone has their own opinions on what you should or should not be doing and how you should have done this better or not made that decision or done this or done that and everyone has an opinion all of a sudden in a way that wasn’t my experience working on a cross-functional team, you know.

the regulatory person isn’t going to have an opinion on the appropriateness of my choice of variance-covariance structure or whatever it happens to be. Yeah, I think for me it was also kind of the situation with statistics. You were kind of grown up, you’re well educated, you feel well kind of experienced, it was kind of very safe ground. Yeah. And now you felt like a complete…

newbie again and there was so and and even if you of course you worked with supervisors because you had supervisors um it completely looks different from the other side of the desk yes although that’s

I think it’s a good example of your self-awareness. I was blissfully ignorant. I mean, I was, I really was a walking cliche. And I went into supervision going, well, I’ve had, you know, what was it, four managers in my career. I know which ones I thought were good. I know which ones I thought were not good. I know what bits I thought they did well, and I’ll do that and I will be fine. I was anything but fine. So…

I do think it’s very important what support structure is around you. Do you have other managers local to you who are either you’re reporting to or are doing the same job as you but have been doing it longer? Whose brain can you go and pick?

who can you talk to about things you might not be aware of? And you talk about awareness, Alexander. You know, there’s a whole bunch of stuff going on, you probably don’t even know what’s going on, because you don’t know to look for it. So, if you’ve got those sort of…

resources available to you, I think that’s enormously important. My closest manager was four and a half thousand miles away and that made it a little bit trickier. So yeah, I do think people whose brains you can pick is really important. I think it’s even more important if they also know the people that you manage.

that helps very often because then they know about kind of the more surreal cases and the real problems and kind of can more anticipate what kind of problems you might face. Yeah, I think that’s true. I do think that if you’re in an organisation of a reasonable size then hopefully one’s first supervisory…

opportunity is not with a group that’s riddled with problems. It’s in a group where you have a good chance to get going and get used to that and perhaps some of the more challenging assignments come later on. But if that’s not the case and you’re going in to a group which has some challenges then absolutely I think that’s very helpful.

If you have support on the individual level for these persons, that’s really, really great if you have somebody else, like your own supervisor or your colleague that is kind of stepping in or supporting you, has more experience. I think this is one of the key.

coaching that you can take as a new supervisor if you have real-life experience with a colleague or something to coach you on. But just for like more on the technical side so what kind of trainings or what kind of support would you

Do you think were most beneficial in the past for you, maybe personally what would you recommend for people that are new supervisors or will become supervisors soon or might hopefully? We talked about communication skills. Is there anything else that you would really recommend or tickets? I’m not sure there’s necessarily anything that I think is a single training.

I would say, like, four supervisors go do this. I think a lot of trainings that we tend to run and send people on in our industry, leadership influence, negotiation skills, communication skills and so on, they’re all part of that package. But I think some of the things that I’ve learned over the years, and I sort of said earlier on, you know, was quite the walking disaster area.

presumably by the fact i’m still allowed to see the voice people you know eighteen years later i’m no longer walking disaster area uh… by the last of the people above me has some pretty bad judgment i think

those things can’t really be trained in a kind of formal classroom setting or you know you can watch a TED talk and hear the words but it’s different to do it so I do think

you need to have the investment in the people that you’re responsible for. And I don’t think a training course teaches you to be invested. And you can hear people, well, like on this podcast say, it’s important to be invested and you can not belong, but that’s real different to actually being invested. Um, I think you need to, you need to put the time in to get to know the people and get to know their motivators, um, understand what’s important to them.

Just to chime in there, how do you learn apart what motivates people? Well, my own method is wonderfully simple. I ask them. I don’t necessarily say, please arrive at your next one-to-one with a list of your motivators. That would be unfair, but I do discuss what is important to people. I try and understand what their career aspirations are.

Everyone has a different situation and it’s easy to assume that everyone wants the same thing. It’s easy to assume everyone wants a more challenging project or everyone wants a promotion. And some folk don’t. Some folk have a situation in life where what they most value is having predictable working hours, doing a good professional job.

and having job security and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that whatsoever. So to assume that somebody for whom that’s important wants to go and get promoted and take on big leadership opportunities that might come with a ton of extra work, that would be an incredibly naive assumption. See, you’ve got to talk to folk and it may be that their motivations are

reasonable and achievable in a short period of time, it may be it’s a long-term goal, it may be that it’s not realistic or practical at all. But if you don’t have the conversation in the first place, you’ll never know that. So there’s expectations on the job and then there’s motivations for doing the job. How do you see the differentiation there?

I would see expectations, in terms of my expectations of others, I would see that as a more objective thing, and the motivation is the why. Why do you come into work each morning? Why this particular company?

And once you’ve taken care of some of the hygiene factors like, well, I come to work because I’m not independently wealthy and thus need to earn some money, which is a facile answer because of course, you can earn money doing many different things in many different places. So…

Why here? And is coming here an active decision or is it a passive decision? And you would never, I would never ask that directly, but understanding then, you know, what’s important to this person, thinking about what we’re doing as a company, looking at how much overlap or otherwise there is. And from that you can start to think about what opportunities there may be that fits well for them.

and help them, you know, again it sounds obvious, it really trites, but help them enjoy coming into work in the morning. In terms of that, I need to say I really struggled with these questions for quite a lot of time. So I remember I was…

once over in the headquarter in Indianapolis, and I met some more senior people, and one person actually asked me, so what motivates you? And I said, I want to earn more money. And he said, oh, okay, if that motivates you. And this kind of thing, I still have in my head, because thereafter I thought, is this really my motivation? And I…

From that day, I had a very, very long journey to end up with what is really my motivation. So I think the question about just asking gives you some answers, but I’m not really sure that lots of people are really aware why they do things. I think that’s a very good point. I think it’s a starting point.

So when that person said to you, what motivates you, you said earn more money. That doesn’t necessarily, you know, they would be quite naive if they just took that at face value. But it’s a starting point, and it’s a starting point for a conversation. And I think a lot of it is.

a series of conversations over time. This isn’t something you sit down in a one-to-one and go, right, on my agenda for the one-to-one today is to find out your motivations. No, that’s not… Kicked off after five minutes. Exactly. So I think… But if that was someone who knew you well, then they could have come back to you, oh, okay, so you’re going to become a hedge fund manager, are you? Because that’s certainly much better paid than…

what you’re getting as a pharmaceutical industry statistician. And that challenge might have started that thought process in you. But the other thing you said was about the awareness. When I started at Biogen, on my first trip to Boston, where the company’s headquartered, I went out for dinner with my two direct reports.

They said, what questions do you have? And one of them said, what do you look for in a statistician? And she was expecting me to say, I’m really keen to have someone who knows Bayesian methods, or I want somebody who’s got regulatory experience or something. And I just said self-awareness. Because I think if somebody has a good sense of where they are in all sorts of different dimensions.

then you can work alongside them pretty easily. If they don’t have good self-awareness, then part of that journey, that supervision, the development of all of that thing always has this aspect to it which is helping them get that awareness so they understand what they do. So I think…

It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to change, but you have to be aware of it. So I am talkative. I am a talkative statistician. It’s not a common phenomenon. It is not. What I’m aware about that is that when I work with non-statisticians, after the initial surprise, it’s pretty effective. But I’ve had times in my career where I am, where my technical input is treated with skepticism by other statisticians.

because they subconsciously associate my talkativeness with some sort of fluff, which means I can’t be technical, which is a fascinating thing in and of its own right. But kind of understand that mechanism is there, I’m not suddenly going to change who I am and stop being talkative, but just knowing that that’s there can make me aware of it, and, you know, in certain situations try and…

mitigate that a little bit and I think if you’ve got folk who have a degree of self-awareness then it’s much much easier to help them. Sounds like a quite advanced style to spend the time you asked that question back. But just just going back a few steps earlier in our conversation you know when I asked you about the the training that you potentially recommend or whatever. So do you do you actually then think that new supervisors

you know, will really have a hard time because there’s no technical training available. So do you, you know, I mean they will fail at some, they’ll partly fail on the way to become a senior supervisor. Is it kind of what you expect new supervisors to expect? I would guess that pretty much everyone fails at everything at some point because that’s how you learn.

it’s around whether that failure is catastrophic or whether it’s fairly minor.

So on the technical side, you find an issue in an analysis you’ve done, you go find your supervisor and go, we did this wrong and you correct it. On the supervisory side, if you’ve made a fairly minor mistake, hopefully, if you’ve conducted a conversation badly, hopefully you can grab that person and apologize for it and say, I know I didn’t do that well, I’m really sorry and you have a second go. Now if you’re doing that four times a day, every day of the week, that may be a different issue.

So you will get things wrong. It’s totally unrealistic to think otherwise. And there’s nothing special about supervisory skills over let’s say technical skills that means you miraculously will never make a mistake. You will make mistakes all of the time. And I think if you’re the sort of person who’s gonna beat yourself up over every single sort of thing you do imperfectly, then, but it’s probably not the industry view, but I would say certainly supervision isn’t

It’s not got that preciseness of the technical side of our job. It is loose, it is woolly and…

you’re never going to do everything perfectly, you’re probably never going to do anything perfectly, it’s can you do it well? In terms of that, how would you actually then define doing it well? So how does success look like for being a good supervisor? Oh goodness, that’s a loaded question. I guess the true answer to that is if I knew the answer to that, I wouldn’t be working in this industry and I would be on doing TED Talks and

leadership guru which I’m most certainly not, I don’t think you assess it directly, I think you see it indirectly. So I think, you know, there’s formal mechanisms, I do think you have positive feedback at the end of the year, but that could also be evidence of you doing it appallingly badly of course, because if you’re intimidating all your staff, you’re not doing a good job but you may not get bad feedback either.

I think it’s going to be what people say about you when you’re not around. If somebody was going to come and join your team, Alexander, and they went to one of your direct reports and said, should I join the team? If they go ahead and join your team enthusiastically, that’s probably a good reflection of how you are as a supervisor. If they do everything they can to avoid joining your team, then there’s probably something to explore in that.

Right? And I think, so I think it’s kind of indirect. I think you have to trust the people around you and particularly the people above you. And that if you’re not doing a good job, you’re going to know about it. Well, I think that’s probably the easiest thing to say.

If your supervisor thinks you’re doing a good job as a supervisor, then that’s all right. But I think there are more parts, more dimensions where you can kind of measure a little bit at least of if you’re a good supervisor. For example, if you see people in your team progressing with certain skills where you think this is something which we found to be weakness and it’s kind of turned around into a strength.

is working together better, is the flexibility internally. So if you detected weaknesses in the team or in the individual and five years later, three years later you find out or you realize well, there’s a really good progress. That’s also part of measurement, at least for myself, to say well, okay, we detected it, we changed it, good. Just to get a little bit kind of challenging.

here in terms of says we love each other and everybody feels good. How do business results feed into this? I guess I could say what would you consider to be a statistics business result. It certainly isn’t a positive study because that’s got an awful lot to do with the drug as much as it is the statistical work.

Most companies will have some sort of assessment of an individual’s performance and if your team is performing well, that’s good. But of course, if you’re the one ascribing the assessment of how well they’re doing, there’s an inherent bias in using how well your team is doing as a measure of how well you’re doing. If you’re the one giving out the scores in the first place.

a particularly good answer for that. I think it’s a lot of the business results are given. You know, I think the days of saying

we did everything on time i think that’s an astonishing success along behind us i think it’s an assumption stuff is done on time i think it’s there’s an assumption that stuff is correct in some sense uh… so i don’t really have a a good answer for that but but but what about the other points was you’re talking about uh… you know things that capture a weakness in turn into a strength i think there is a that a common perception

team who’s struggling or having a hard time with things or has some sort of thing, some gap or something in their skills. So that’s a challenging situation for a supervisor and there are times when it can be. I actually think that supervising the talented is at least as difficult if not more so because you have to keep those folk interested and there’s an awful lot of tasks.

that we do in this industry that aren’t especially interesting. There’s a lot of fairly operational tasks. You have to keep them intellectually challenged. You have to think about what opportunities are right for them to…

to stretch them and that is at least as much investment. If you’ve got someone who’s really properly struggling, then most companies have some sort of process for managing non-performance. So there’s a framework there. I don’t know of a company that has a framework for managing super performance, you know, and stretching that out. So I actually think having, you know, having really super talented people is at least as much of a challenge, if not more so as a super.

No, I agree. It was just an example saying, you know, how to measure to be a good supervisor. No, I fully agree. It’s the… you know, this is challenging you more really to work with somebody who’s kind of ahead of everything than somebody who’s far behind. Absolutely. So, in terms of…

When we talk about the strengths of the people and you want to challenge them and you want to give them the right projects, how do you kind of distinguish these things where people think they are good and people where they’re actually good, and especially in terms of

good relative to others. Because I think very often you’re good at this, but you have another talent where you’re maybe not as good at the first task, but compared to all these others, you’re a superstar. So maybe it’s better you work on this task for the company and stretch that.

you know, are you talking, you know, if you’re talking about a situation where someone’s got a pretty good sense of their strengths, where they want to really work on things that require their top strength and the situation you gave, I think, is where they’re working with their second or third strength. I think that’s one situation, a different situation is where there’s a sort of a lack of awareness of what their strengths are, you know, and you see this in Foku, perhaps they’ve had a perfectly acceptable year, but, you know…

that’s all they’ve kind of done and they come in at the end of the year with a write-up that kind of says, you know, I’ve solved all the problems of the world and that’s the lack of awareness there. So I think the two situations are slightly different. I think you need to be able to explain.

and more you think it’s is a good thing to do it doesn’t mean it has to be a debate about it because you have the authority to assign the task you have that authority i do think you can expect a folk walk and there are situations are collie gashina in a different function who was put on a particular assignment and their supervisors fantastic i think because i think he said i’m sorry this is a horrible assignment is going to go and it’s going to be boring

important that it is done totally correctly you are the one person I can rely on to do it. It is six months, it will not last more than six months and I’m not going to try and pretend to you this is some fantastic opportunity.

but it just is so important that it’s done right. You’re the only person I’m willing to put on it. And they went and did it and they did it with good grace because they’re an employee of the company just like everyone else is. And I thought that was brilliant supervision because the temptation to dress something up, dress something up, you know. People are not idiots. If you use the word opportunity for every nasty conversation,

Problem then when there is a genuine opportunity, no one’s going to believe you And so I thought that supervisor did a fantastic job because they were just dead honest so, you know Those are the sort of examples that I say are saying different function in this case But I kind of try and store away somewhere for when I’m faced with that situation go right I think you know and it’s a style that would sit very comfortably with me and I do think you have to be

We’ve talked a lot today about how I see things. I think it is important to say you have to supervise in a way that’s right for you. People use phrases like authentic and you’ll see books on authentic leadership. I mean, my take is people will see straight through you if you’re trying to be something you’re not. So if you’re pretty straightforward, be pretty straightforward.

If you’re mega empathetic, then be enormously empathetic. You know, and supervising a style that is real for you. And I think people are pretty flexible in terms of what styles they can work with. I think where people, and myself included, have problems is where they see a disconnect. And whether that’s intentional like hypocrisy, or whether that’s unintentional.

I don’t think it really matters, but they see that disconnect. So we just talked about kind of assigning work to people, and you mentioned this kind of example where you had a dull task, but that was such important that you put it to someone which was not kind of this optimal situation where it’s a, you know, engaging, motivating task.

And I think there will be always kind of these constraints because of course you only have a set of certain projects tasks whatsoever to do and you need to match that on a given set of people that you have At least for the moment and you know over over time you can develop things but How do you kind of? Fit this puzzle

Yeah, I mean that’s a resourcing puzzle which, depending on your company structure, may or may not be your responsibility. I mean, if you’re working in clinical development then you pretty much know what studies are in the plan and what’s upcoming, you have a sense of what skills you need and you build your team accordingly. So yeah, for me…

It’s OK to get in the right people, you have the right skills in your teams. So not, when I say the right people, not the right individuals, meaning I want Fred and Joe and Alice. But, OK, I’m going to… This one is going to be really tricky. I need somebody who’s super strong on methods.

This one I know operationally is going to be a challenge. So I need somebody who is very, very good at that side of things. These ones are pretty standard. So I can be more flexible and you build your team accordingly, I think. Okay, very good. I think we touched all the points that we wanted to cover. It was a little bit longer, well, for an obvious reason.

But I really very very much enjoyed the discussion and thanks a lot Simon. Thank you, thanks a lot. So and like always you can find the show notes on our homepage at thee and if you want to keep listening to this please subscribe to the podcast. Bye.

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