Are you hesitant about delegation due to perceived time constraints and potential pitfalls?
Ever wondered about the different scenarios of delegation within the Situational Leadership Model?
How do you empower individuals to seamlessly transition from unfamiliarity to unconscious competence in a task?
Have you considered the task-specific nature of experience and the pitfalls of assuming universal skills?
In this episode, I navigate the significance of delegation, a skill indispensable for statisticians, managers, and professionals across diverse fields. Building on a 2018 episode that explored effective delegation principles, I now scrutinize delegation through the lens of the Situational Leadership Model.
Here are the highlights of the episode:
- Challenges and Perceptions of Delegation
- Importance of Delegation
- Situational Leadership Model
- Detailed Analysis of Situational Leadership Scenarios Scenario 1: Unskilled and Unfamiliar a. Delegation approach for very junior individuals b. Importance of detailed explanation and feedback Scenario 2: Unskilled but Familiar a. Dealing with frustration and lack of knowledge b. Encouragement and supportive feedback Scenario 3: Skilled but Still Learning a. Transitioning to larger tasks b. Delegating deliverables and emphasizing goals Scenario 4: Highly Skilled and Natural a. Recognizing when tasks become second nature b. Avoiding assumptions about others’ skills and experiences
- Leadership by Intent a. Emphasizing the importance of explaining the ‘why’ behind tasks b. Encouraging goal-oriented delegation for skilled individuals
- Continuous Learning and Growth a. Acknowledging that expertise is task-specific b. Encouragement for experienced individuals to take on new challenges
- Training and Support in Delegation a. Addressing the common issue of leaving new supervisors unsupported b. Importance of training and guiding individuals taking on supervisory roles
Delegation Based On the Situational Leadership Model
[00:00:00] Alexander: Welcome to another episode of the effective statistician. Today I’m talking about delegation. I’ve already recorded an episode about delegation quite some time ago and published this in 2018. And the episode is called four principles about effective delegations. And how not only managers can benefit from it.
[00:00:27] All what I’ve said in this episode still holds true. So you can scroll back quite a lot on your player and listen to this episode as well. Today I want to go a little bit into some other aspects about delegation because it’s a quite complex thing and we all delegate. All the time. Yeah, as a statistician, you should delegate something to your programmers in terms of tables.
[00:00:59] You may even [00:01:00] delegate stuff to your supervisor. We delegate all the time. Yeah, you also delegate, of course, if you have people reporting to you, you delegate. Now, delegation isn’t easy. Let’s put that first. And very often it fails. And so that’s why a lot of people don’t delegate. I can rather do it myself.
[00:01:28] That’s quicker because then I don’t need to explain it to someone else. And yes, that is true in the short run, but in the long run it’s wrong. Delegation takes time. But usually it pays off over time. So spend some time in organizing your things and delegating them. Delegate them of course to the right people.
[00:01:57] But that’s something we’ll [00:02:00] dive into a little bit later. Now there’s a lot of costs if you don’t delegate. And the biggest cost Is the opportunity cost opportunity cost arises if you spend time on something that you can delegate and therefore you can’t work on something that you can’t delegate. And so you should always try to delegate as much as possible, even if you don’t have direct reports, yes.
[00:02:35] For example, you could delegate something to peers that are better in doing these tasks. You can delegate something upwards, if it makes sense. You can delegate something to a vendor. If you work with them, or if you don’t work with them, maybe you need some, there’s a lot of things you can delegate. You can [00:03:00] delegate to an assistant.
[00:03:01] You can delegate to other functions. Of course, you should delegate it to those areas where it is cheapest and easiest done. So, this is one of the principles I actually talk about in this video. Episode that I mentioned earlier. Now, there are four scenarios about delegation that you can be in based on a so called situational leadership model.
[00:03:33] And this leadership model is, again, a very, very easy. Two by two matrix. And yes, that’s maybe a little bit oversimplified. But you’ll get the gist of it just by thinking about this. So there are two axes. The first is if people know the task. Yes, or no. And the second is [00:04:00] whether they are skilled at doing the task.
[00:04:02] Yes or no. And of course, being skilled is for sure not just a binary option. We all know that. But for simplicity. Let’s just think about skilled and unskilled. So the first situation that very junior people and here junior associated to the task because it’s about this situation. So the specific task for specific person in a specific time.
[00:04:32] Then this task is very, very often. Unknown to the person. They do it the first time. And then of course, they are also unskilled. Usually in this situation, people are pretty motivated. But they don’t know what they don’t know. And so you need to delegate in a way that helps people do these tasks. So you need to [00:05:00] explain probably in a lot of details of how to do things.
[00:05:05] So break the bigger task down into more manageable tasks and then explain what to do and then check in pretty soon thereafter. Maybe first explain this is the SAP template. These are all the different sections in here, and you first understand the protocol and these kind of paths, and then you ask them to fill in the first section, yeah, of the SAP, and Then let’s have a discussion about it, give feedback, then you go to the next section and so on and so on and so on.
[00:05:45] So said the person learns about it step by step by step. What then usually happens is that people move from, I don’t know, the task and [00:06:00] I’m don’t know about not good at it to, I know the task. And I’m not good at it, so I know the task, and I’m unskilled. Well, that is usually the situation where people get a little bit frustrated.
[00:06:16] Oh, there are so many things I don’t know, and that can be frustrating. In this situation, it is really important that you encourage the people, that you Speak about the motivations, that you speak about the purpose of that, that you show how they are learning more and more, you give supportive feedback in terms of what they are already doing well.
[00:06:46] You’re not critiquing them for everything that they are messing up. They know that they are messing up, so it’s not helpful for you to point out that they are messing up. And these situations. Encourage them. Show [00:07:00] them how they are getting better. And then, step by step by step, over time, people will get into the next category.
[00:07:09] And that is, that they know the task, and they get skilled. Now, in this category, you can now Give more and more bigger tasks. Yeah, it’s a beginning. You have maybe given just, you know, parts of the SAP, you know, you can give the whole SAP to, to someone and he or she will just run with it and let you know, then that it’s done.
[00:07:39] This is by the way, another important part in it. Yeah. Delegate a deliverable, not a task. I’m talking about this in the other episode as well. A deliverable means that you not only assign a task, but you assign it in such a way [00:08:00] that you know when it’s done. Yeah. An organization doesn’t benefit from anything being done.
[00:08:06] Unless the organization knows about it. So the people always need to feedback in terms of I’ve done it. Now, the important part here is also in terms of delegation, you need to delegate goal. When people get better and better at things, you can much more speak about. Goals and why this is important and what to do so you speak about, okay, we need to have analysis for this manuscript, for example, or for this report.
[00:08:47] and these will be aimed to provide these kind of updates for our management or for publication or for understanding the current safety profile of the [00:09:00] truck or whatsoever, you know, so you basically speak about the goal instead about the task, because you understand the person will be in the best position for themselves to evaluate what needs to get done.
[00:09:18] In that situation, that is where you really want to be in, that people are capable of doing things and can maybe even come up with better ideas. to complete them, then you would have come up. That’s similar to the situation where, for example, you drive your car into a garage and you want the mechanic to get it.
[00:09:43] Fixed. Well, you don’t tell the mechanic to, well, replace this part, and have a look into this part here, and diagnose this part, and whatsoever. No, you tell them, well, it makes some sunny [00:10:00] funny. noises when I drive and it usually does this and this and this is kind of unusual. Could you have a look and fix it?
[00:10:09] In the same way, explain to people what you would like to get achieved. As an example, for example I we had a statistician in our leadership program and probably have told about the story in the past, who was given the task to create Excel spreadsheets and then provide it to a safety physician.
[00:10:37] Well, he was given a task. He wasn’t explained what to do with it. And why is this important? So, through our leadership program, he got encouraged to understand what is behind this. Why is this important? How are these Excel spreadsheets used? So, he had a [00:11:00] chat with the physician looking into these spreadsheets and then understood that.
[00:11:05] Ah, this physician is looking into this and tries then to evaluate whether it’s safe to escalate to the next dose. And that takes him a lot of time based on this bad format. And so, instead of providing these lengthy Excel tables, he came up with the idea to create an R Shiny app, with which the physician could very quickly and easily extract the right information.
[00:11:36] And this is a good example for bad delegation. So the statistician was just given the task, do this, but not why, why is that important? Who will benefit from it? What is the goal that needs to be achieved here? And because of that. He first [00:12:00] couldn’t evaluate whether there’s something easier or better to be done.
[00:12:04] Or, in some situations even, does it need to be done at all? Because maybe there’s other analysis that are already there that answers the question. Or other analysis that shows that it doesn’t make sense to do these analyses. Or whatsoever. Yeah? So, always make sure that the people you delegate to Especially the more experienced ones, or the people that have different experience to you, understand why is it important.
[00:12:36] What goal do you want to achieve? That allows these people to come up with better solutions. The other thing is, maybe, you know, doing exactly what you have been told. is impossible because there’s something wrong with the data or there’s some, you know, there’s too much data missing [00:13:00] or there’s certain part was not, you know, high quality.
[00:13:05] Captured in the data or whatsoever. In these situations, if people don’t know why it’s important and what is the goal, they’re stuck. Is it, it is as if you’re telling your child, well, in the morning, please leave the house at 7. 40, then go right, then go left, then go straight for two, two kilometers, and then arrive there.
[00:13:33] If there is a roadblock or whatsoever, the person, the child, doesn’t know what to do. But if you tell them, well, be at 7. 50 in front of the station so that I can pick you up to school, the child knows, okay, I need to get there by this time, so maybe I take Go running before and therefore I leave the house [00:14:00] earlier or take the bike or I know that there’s a road closed So I take a different route and that’s why I need to start earlier.
[00:14:07] Whatsoever. Yeah, people know how to get to the goal despite of Challenges, but this is only possible if they know the end goal. If they’re just given the task, it’s impossible So this is also called leadership by intent Just by the way, but, but this is really important. So always explain what to do. Now, let’s come back to the situational leadership where we talked about the three steps.
[00:14:39] First, you don’t know about the task and you’re unskilled. Then you don’t, you’re still unskilled, but you know about the task. Then you are skilled and you know about the task. And the last part where it usually goes to is that you’re skilled. But you don’t actually think about the task anymore. [00:15:00] It’s kind of, you know, you can’t explain it to someone else because it became so natural.
[00:15:05] Of course you know how to do it, but you don’t know that you know. That is, for example, the case if you’re driving a car for 20 years. Well, explaining exactly what you’re doing when driving is really, really difficult because you do so many things automatically. You know that you can drive a car, but exactly how?
[00:15:29] You will have a lot of knowledge about all kind of different things without specifically can kind of listing what you all know about. Because there’s just so much. And so that is the last part. Yeah, where people are highly skilled. That they don’t see that as something of importance. A typical thing for example for us statisticians is that we are all [00:16:00] logical thinkers.
[00:16:01] We are trained in logical thinking and usually we are quite good at it. And then we assume everybody else is also good at this. Nope, that’s not the case. That is actually an exception from the rule. Logical thinking is quite difficult and lots of people struggle with it. So don’t take that for granted.
[00:16:26] And so, always delegate appropriately. By the way, if you have persons in the last area, where they are highly skilled, but they actually don’t know about it yet, then still encourage them. Give them new opportunities to grow. Make sure that, you know, they step up. Then, you know, they need to get for the next task.
[00:16:52] In the next circle. Yeah, so maybe they are now well versed in writing [00:17:00] SAP. So now you give them the task to design a study. And then, of course, they start again fresh. And that’s how people learn over, over, and over again. And of course, that also means that there’s Very often kind of step down in terms of motivation again, or step up when there’s some excitement to do something new.
[00:17:24] But make sure that you understand this is task related. Any person is not Experienced per se. People are experienced in a specific task. You can have super experienced statisticians and now they first need to do something around budgeting and then they start from zero. They have no clue. How that works, what is kind of the process flow within your company, what are the tools, who to ask, and all these kind of different things.
[00:17:59] So [00:18:00] don’t assume, because that’s a very experienced statistician, he or she is also experienced in all other things, like budgeting. Same for managing people. Just because you’re an experienced statistician or programmer. doesn’t mean that you now also have experience in managing people and leading other people.
[00:18:25] No, that is a new situation. So you need to delegate accordingly. You need to train people. Look after people. That’s by the way the most common issue in terms of delegation. People get supervisory tasks and they’re just left alone. And of course that is frustrating because People will make mistakes and they will not even recognize it or they will [00:19:00] be frustrated about this and leaving a young supervisor or an inexperienced supervisor alone is really bad.
[00:19:10] Not only for the supervisor but also even more for the people reporting to that new supervisor. So make sure that you train the people.
[00:19:22] So that’s an episode about delegation. We will touch on lots of other leadership topics in the future. And up to now, up to then, stay tuned for some more content coming from the Effective Statistician Leadership Program and from the Effective Statistician Podcast.
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