Skip to content

Episode 35 — When and How to Delegate

Subscribe using your preferred service

About this episode

The English poet John Donne famously wrote, “No man is an island, entire of itself.” So how do you get off of your Island and start including others in your work? It may be the people that work for you, the people that work with you, or even the people for whom you work. Tune into this episode to find out more.

Hosted by Bitesize Bio’s own Dr. Nick Oswald featuring Kenneth Vogt of Vera Claritas.

Share this to your network:

Sponsored by

Listen now

Watch Now

INTRO (00:08):
This is The Happy Scientist podcast. Each episode is designed to make you more focused, more productive, and more satisfied in the lab. You can find us online at bitesizebio.com/happyscientist. Your hosts are Kenneth Vogt, founder of the executive coaching firm Vera Claritas and Dr. Nick Oswald, PhD bio-scientist and founder of Bitesize Bio.

Nick Oswald (00:39):
Hello and welcome to The Happy Scientist podcast from Bitesize Bio. If you want to become a happier, healthier, and more productive scientist, you’re in the right place. I’m Nick Oswald the founder of bitesizebio.com and with me is the driving force of this podcast, Mr. Kenneth Vogt, my friend mentor and founder of the coaching company Vera Claritas, today’s episode is called when and how to delegate. So this is all about getting stuff done without having to do it yourself. That’s always a good thing. So let’s bring in the man himself. What’s this all about today, Ken?

Kenneth Vogt (01:12):
Hey there, Nick, I have to say that every time you introduced me, I I’m sitting here with my fist in the air. There’s something interesting about this kind of thing too. You know how they, they say that if you want something positive said about you, rather than say it yourself, have somebody else say it, that that by the way is an example of delegation and you know, it’s no less true when Nick describes me, then if I would describe me, but for some reason it sounds better coming from somebody else. And, you know, I realized part of it may be that he has that wonderful lilting, Scottish accent, and I have this strokey Wisconsin accent, but even, so it works,

Kenneth Vogt (02:06):
I dunno about back, back where I came from. I don’t think anybody looked with fun on our accent. We just kind of accepted it. Well, yeah, here’s the thing too. You might be sitting there thinking, okay. Delegation, that’s, that’s a, that’s a great topic for my boss. It’s, it really doesn’t apply to me. I didn’t have any direct reports or, or I don’t have very many or, or if I do have anything like that, it, the work is so stylized that I don’t have to tell them what to do or give them assignments. They, they already know what to do. They just do it. And you might think I’m just doesn’t matter, but it does matter because you can delegate and all kinds of directions. You know, of course, if you are someone who has people that report to them, delegation is a critical part of your job.

Kenneth Vogt (02:59):
But even if you don’t, it’s, it’s possible and necessary to, to delegate, to, to people who are, you know, your peers, it’s possible to delegate to your boss, to people that, that you actually report to. Is there a time when somebody else needs to be doing something for all kinds of reasons? And so you, you need to get good at this because delegation is amplification. If you want to get things done, you’re going to need other people involved. And this is part of how you get them involved and you want to be making the best possible use of your time and your gifts, the things you’re good at, if you’re doing something that you struggled to do, and it is an you know a critical skill for your career, but it’s just it’s tasks that has to be done. And yet you work with somebody who finds that test easy or enjoyable, make some deals, get them to do the things you don’t want to do, or you aren’t good at.

Kenneth Vogt (04:10):
And you do the things you’re good at. And, and that you like, and you will find that everybody does better. And this, this doesn’t just amplify your career. It amplifies other people’s careers too. As people get more involved and do more things, they’re resume building, they’re building skills, they’re making connections. This is you. You can’t look at this whole I’m, I’m going to be totaled the dump, my work on somebody else, but that’s not what I’m saying at all, because part of this will be deal-making, you know, like, all right, if you’ll do this, I’ll do that. Or if you’ll do this this week, I’ll do that next week or the other way around, you know, sometimes it’s a good idea to be the recipient of delegation. First start amassing some, you know, some chips, some things you can cash in later. It’s, it’s all part of this part of this process.

Kenneth Vogt (05:10):
So now I use the word process because delegation is in fact, the process, like any other kind of process. And I know for many of you folks in the lab process is a big deal processes, really important. And it’s really, yeah. Comforting. It’s good to know that there’s a process to figure this out, you know, for sure, because some of you might not feel that comfortable with the idea of delegating to others. But if you, if you learn the process, you don’t actually have to be that comfortable. It’ll just, well, you know, the process says it’s time to do X and you’ll know, cause that’s, that’s how process works process can be a motivator process. Can, can keep you on track. It can help you do things that you might otherwise find difficult or distasteful or, or uncomfortable. So, you know, that’s, that’s how we’re going to take a look at this. So Nick, I wanted to ask you about, about this in particular, how often in the lab do people find themselves in the need of delegating? Is this a, is this a big deal?

Nick Oswald (06:19):
It depends on how you look at it. One way of looking at it is that there’s not a lot of delegation going on because you’re responsible for your own work. You might have a technician or a student perhaps, but mostly, mostly people are doing things themselves. But I was just thinking about that there, that the, this industry is actually quite well set up to, to delegate. What, on a kind of more systematic level, where if you think about it, there are all sorts of stuff. So most institutions will have staff where you know, a service, kitchen service where they will lot wash lab LabWare or they’ll make, they’ll do repetitive things, like make up plates for you or, or things like that. So, and there’s normally a cost involved in that. And so the question is, do you wash your own dishes or do you get someone else to, to to do them?

Nick Oswald (07:11):
And you know, then it’s, you know, the money saved versus your time, which is really what delegation is all about in a way. Other ways to think about are that you know, do you spend time each day or week or whatever racking, pipette tips, something very repetitive, or do you delegate it to a student or do you just buy the ones that were pre-wrapped by the company that are more expensive but save you that save you the time and the money and probably, you know, other benefits to as well. And then also if you think about it as well, even deeper than that in the modern day, a biology lab, there’s all sorts of kits and and things that you can buy that, that basically delegate the chemistry behind the techniques we’re using. And delegate that to the company who, who, who make the care, you know, so back in the day, this was chemists doing molecular biology and, and things like that. And you know, it’s proper, proper chemistry that stuff. And, you know, you, instead, you can just buy off the shelf, saving you a lot of time and and quality control issues and all that sort of stuff.

Kenneth Vogt (08:29):
Sure. So I like, as you’ve been describing, there are trade offs here and sometimes the trade offs, aren’t up to you, you know, maybe you don’t have to have budget authority, so you can’t make that choice, but you can certainly advocate for it. And well, that’s something that, that we’ve noticed that bitesizebio, that, that the scientists at the bench are very often influencers then, and they make a big difference in how the lab gets run because they speak up and they have opinions and they have opinions that are based on something. They know what they’re talking about. So don’t sell yourself short, and by the way, this conversation is also including those of you who do in fact have budget authority and do in fact have staff, you know, so we’re, yeah, I w I want to lead in for everyone there too, that, Hey, you, this is definitely for you.

Kenneth Vogt (09:21):
You really want to look at this. And I liked the way you did, where you put that Nick, that this, this is a notion of delegating to them. Another company delegating to another department, you know, that it’s not just delegating to individuals. Now that they’re going to be times when it’s just, you know, I don’t have any problem with racking pipettes, but I hate washing dishes and somebody, yeah. Like a lot of mine washing dishes I’ll do that, you know, so make a deal. But so the, the first step of this is to identify tasks that can be delegated. So you gotta, you gotta look around for likely candidates. You know, what are the kind of things that you might want to consider delegating? And part of this has to do with practicality, but part of it has to do with personality and, and your own.

Kenneth Vogt (10:12):
You’re just your own personal choices. So in other words, a likely candidate for something to delegate is a repetitive task to takes too much time. You’re not somebody who likes repetitive tasks, but you might be able to find somebody that does. And that’s a, that’s a common enough characteristic, but it’s also a common enough character to not have. So if you don’t enjoy things that are repetitive and they’re, they’re, they’re taken up a lot of clock time, or a lot of calendar for you and keeping you from, from accomplishing objectives, you want to accomplish by all means, look around for how you can delegate that. Now, if it’s something you just plain don’t like doing. Yeah, absolutely. And now sometimes there are some things that nobody likes doing, right? You can’t do much about that, but it is surprising how often there are things that you couldn’t care less about and another person, and it, you know, you can, you can work that out.

Kenneth Vogt (11:14):
You can make deals, you know, some people hate washing dishes, but they don’t mind drying, you know? Well, great. Then, then, then make a deal, work that out. You may also realize there are some things that, that seem to show up up on your to-do list, but they really don’t serve your primary objectives. You can’t just blow them off, but they have, but, you know, cause they have to be done, but they don’t really help you much. Well, if there’s a way you can get somebody else to do that, great. That’s a good candidate for delegation. And then finally if there’s some, some tasks that you feel is holding you back, it’s keeping you from being able to expand or to, to grow in your, in your role or to reach out further. Well, that’s definitely something worth looking at delegating away. So you start there and go, okay, here’s some likely areas I can look at, but now once you’ve got something, what do you do with it?

Kenneth Vogt (12:18):
Well, the first thing you got to do is you got to define this thing. It’s, it’s gotta be clear what it is you want to delegate. So you gotta, you gotta determine Where does this task begin? And where does it end? You know, what, what specifically does it entail? What has to be accomplished? what resources is somebody gonna need to do it? Does he can’t just say, Hey, do X, but then you don’t give that person the things they need to get it done. And then another thing to consider is what authority does someone need to accomplish it? Ucan you tell them what to do and give them the resources? And yet they still can’t do it because it’s gonna mean getting into this locked case that they didn’t have access to, or it’s going to mean having a password to get into a system that they don’t, they aren’t allowed to access.

Kenneth Vogt (13:09):
You know, you gotta be clear. Is this something that, that other person will be allowed to do? And now maybe that authority can come from you. Maybe you can delegate the authority, but if not, you know, maybe you’ve got to get out of the people involved and you might first look at that go, oh man, that’s going to make this too messy. It’s not worth it. Then again, you’ve got to go look back at how you came to the conclusion. This is worthy to delegate and it may well be worth it. You may say, you know what? This is, this is practically a career stopping thing for me. I got to get rid of it. And if that means I got to go have some conversations with people, then I’m going to do that. You know, there are short-term pain sometimes that are very much worth the long-term benefit.

Kenneth Vogt (13:55):
And if you, the more you can get out of being in short-term mode, the better you’re going to do in your career and the happier you’re going to be. If you’re always afraid of conflict, I don’t want to have to talk to somebody. I don’t, I don’t want to have to talk somebody into doing this. I don’t want to have to talk to Boston to let me get in somebody else to do this. I don’t want to have to talk somebody into to bringing someone else into an inner circle of some kind. Well, you’re not going to get far and, and you’re not going to be happy. Your career’s not going to go well, if you are constantly hiding from what you see as potential conflict, all use are, are the situations they require professionals. They require you to step up there. Why are you to show that you have some gumption and that, and that you have some vision.

Kenneth Vogt (14:46):
And if you, if you will step into those things, then you’ll get better at them. And you know, when you do this on a small scale level, some of these smaller delegating tasks, you’re going to find that later on, when it comes to big things, that you’re going to feel more comfortable and like, like you’ve got the chops that you can do, so, okay, you’ve got yourself something you want to delegate. You’ve figured out why you want to delegate it. You’ve defined it. It’s clear. You know what to do now. It’s like, okay, who should do it? Is this something that I can assign to my tech? And, and at first blush, you might be looking going well, I had just this limited field of things I can let the tech do. Maybe not. Maybe you can help them grow to maybe, maybe you’ve got some, some leeway there.

Kenneth Vogt (15:37):
Now it may be that there are are hard and fast protocols around what that, what that person can be assigned. And, and that’s a matter of value on a take on today. So that’s fine. But, but figure out, can this person do it or not? Or what if it’s all right, I can’t be done by my tech. It’s going to have to be done by somebody who’s, you know, at least my peer. Well then all right, if I’m going to, I’m fine. I’m going to ask somebody who is, is a lateral person on, on the chain of command here to do something for me. Then I got to consider our, oh, how am I going to, how am I going to do that? How am I going to make it worth their while I’m going to make it okay, how can I make sure that the boss is okay with this?

Kenneth Vogt (16:17):
You know, there’s all that. And then sometimes you may actually look at this and go, I think I need that delegate this up the chain. I need my boss to handle this. And you know, maybe it’s an ad individual tasks by me, maybe it’s, there’s a conversation that needs to be had, and it would be better if they had that conversation than you. We’re going to have a whole episode on how to, how to manage your boss, but understand that delegating to your boss is absolutely on the table. Now, those of you who are bosses out there listening to this and you’re going, oh my gosh, I’m going to have a bunch of people coming up the chain to delegate to me. I’m not loving the sound of that, but you should love the sound of that because you want them to tell you when there are things that really you should be doing, because that’s, that’s the support they need.

Kenneth Vogt (17:06):
And you shouldn’t be doing certain things for them. There’s things you should do. You doing. You don’t want to do their jobs. You don’t want to micromanage them, but when they come to you and ask for support, you want to, you want to have a listening ear and, you know, you want to be able to discern between, is this person being lazy busy, or is this person realizing that there’s something needs to be done as that’s over their pay grade and actually step up and help. So, you know, you can, we can all be on both ends of this. I can be the is easily delegated to is I can delegate away. So, you know, consider that too. That’s part of the, the process here recognizing when and how to delegate. Well, sometimes the, the when and how I have to do how we receive delegation.

Kenneth Vogt (17:56):
All right. So you’ve got your tasks. You figured out how, how it works. You’ve figured out who you should assign it to. Well, now the next thing you’ve got to do is you’ve got to make sure that that person is trained to do what they need to do. Now, the training here that I’m talking about, isn’t necessarily about the specific task that is, you know, I want them to do X. They need to know in general how to do things. And in many cases that’s already handled, you know, the reason you chose them is because they are already properly trained, but there are times, especially when you are giving assignments to subordinates, that that it’s proper to delegate to this person. And you gotta make sure they’re trained up. They’ve gotta be, they’ve gotta be adequately capable of handling this task and tasks like it.

Kenneth Vogt (18:49):
And so it’s up to you to make sure that they’re brought up to speed in general about those things. Now it’s, it’s another step to instruct them about this particular task, because the reason that’s different than training is training is just a generic here. You know, here’s how we wash dishes. Here’s here’s the cleaning agents we use. Here’s why we use these cleaning agents. And here’s the equipment we have available for it. And, and here’s, you know, how long this has to be in a heated condition. And, you know, I mean, I’m guessing what this stuff is here, but, you know, but those are general things, but about this specific, this specific assignment, they ended understand, okay, within your training, these are the, these are the factors that matter for this, this, this just needs to be, you know, quick and dirty done.

Kenneth Vogt (19:42):
You don’t have to be that fancy about it. Whereas this, this needs to be perfect and sterile. And then up to that, you know, giving them explicit instructions. So they know exactly what results you’re expecting. I expect a sterilized instrument when you’re done. Okay. I get that. Whereas if you just say, Hey, clean this well, okay, I’ve got, I’ve been trained about how to clean things, but I don’t know exactly what kind of clean you want. You know? Well, make sure that doesn’t happen to you. Communication becomes a big part of delegation and it’s fast. If you can communicate it upfront and then be able to let them go and do where they don’t have to keep coming back to you. If they have to keep coming back and getting your approver for little steps along the way and getting a lot, I’m not sure what to do next.

Kenneth Vogt (20:32):
You know that you’re going to be sitting there going, why did I delegate this? And I’m still having to practically do it. You know? So if you want to be effective at delegation, there’s gotta be good communication. And especially upfront. Now that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t allow them to communicate in between. If something comes up, of course, you want them to speak up and say, Hey, this may be a problem. It may get in the way of you getting the results you’re after. Well, that’s a, that’s the conversation you’re going to want to have. And it’s still well worth it. You know, if you have to, if you have to be stopped one once or twice, as they’re doing something to, for them to get further guidance, it’s still may be a time-saver for you and an energy saver and a focus saver for you.

Kenneth Vogt (21:16):
So you want to, you want to think about it that way now, as this thing is going on, perhaps they’re not communicating with you and you don’t know what’s going on. And if it’s a more complicated task, you might kind of need to know what’s going on going on along the way. So you want to track progress. So you, you, you’ve got to come up with a way of determining what progress is going to matter. So again, it comes down to the task you’re assigning and delegating, is this, is this a complicated thing? Is this a one-step process? Or are there several steps? Well, if there are several steps, you want to be periodically checking in with them, make sure that they’re staying on task. Now, part of the, that might be timing. It might be, I know this is a three-step process, any of the three steps, it’s no big deal and it needs to be done this week, but are you going to wait until Thursday to find out if they’ve completed even step one, you know, that may not be a good idea.

Kenneth Vogt (22:17):
You might want to make sure that they got step one done by Monday. And step two is done by Wednesday, depending on what it is, you know, but figure out, well, what’s the proper progress for this so that I can know if things are behind schedule and whether or not some adjustments need to be made. And the adjustment might need mean that you get to adjust your timeline, or they need more support, or maybe it’s that you need to take the task back. Now, I know that sounds really painful when you delegate something and you have to take it back, oh gosh, that’s a waste of time. And, and I always saw this interview trying to get them to do it. And and you might look at that and see that that’s a failure that proves that delegation doesn’t work. No, that shows that something went wrong in the process.

Kenneth Vogt (23:04):
Did you pick a task that should have been delegated in the first place? Should this not never have been delegated or did you, where are you not careful about enough, about who to delegate it to? And when I say careful enough, you might’ve like, well, the only person I had available to do it, or was it that I could have chosen was, was Susie and okay, well maybe Susie, wasn’t a good choice. So understand sometimes that is when you’re making choices, that sometimes the proper choice is not to make a choice. So if you’ve decided all there’s a task, I hate doing, I got to get rid of this. I want to delegate it. The only person I can delegate it to is Susie. Susie is going to be terrible at it. The answer is don’t delegate it as painful as that is because it’s even a worse when you delegate it to the wrong person or somebody that doesn’t have the proper resources or doesn’t have enough time or, or, or any number of reasons why it isn’t a good fit. And then you have to take it back at the last minute. It, it just creates more pressure and makes everything worse for you.

Kenneth Vogt (24:09):
Now, the thing about this, this tracking, you get a differentiated from micromanaging. You’re not trying to take tests back again. You’re not trying to tell them how to do things. And that can be a very difficult one. Yeah. You do tell people how to do things at the beginning, but once they get it, you gotta let them do their thing. Now, I mean, if they’re just not doing it right, and they didn’t get it from the start or they didn’t agree from the start, something you should have been paying attention to. That’s, you know, that’s different problems, but if everybody’s on track and they’re professional and they’re, they’re doing what can be done and you know, maybe they’re encountering problems, but you, but there may be encountering problems you would have encountered. Also let them handle them, you know, support them if you can.

Kenneth Vogt (25:00):
And especially if they’re struggling or if they’re asking for help. But if they’re like, no, I got this. Let him, let him go. Let him have it. You know? And, and it goes from there, you know, and especially if you’re in a position where, where these are folks that work for you, you got to let people make mistakes because they learn from them. You gotta let them fail sometimes as painful as it is. And you gotta build it into the, into the system that failure can happen without the whole operation crumbling. If you’ve, I mean, there are, there are things that are mission critical, and you want to keep on top of that. But, but many things, it’s not that demonstrating critical that you know, that they, they just have to be done and somebody has got to figure out how to do it. And that’s all, that’s all you really need.

Kenneth Vogt (25:51):
So give them a chance to make mistakes, give them a chance to try new things, give them a chance to go slower than you might prefer and know, give them a chance to work it out as is the bottom line. All right. So now you’ve gone through all this and problems are not, the task has been completed, . So you got what you were looking for. You delegated something away it’s it’s been done and you have something that’s off your list. And it’s great. Well, it is time to give credit. And this is something that is very painful for some folks. They, they want to keep all the credit for themselves. And I don’t just mean that in a selfish way. They’re worried that if I give credit to somebody else, I’m going to fade away. Nobody’s gonna, nobody’s gonna pay attention to, nobody’s gonna see my value.

Kenneth Vogt (26:47):
That, and if, if I don’t take all the credit, I will never have enough credit to keep moving up or, or to, to meet my career objectives. Well, it’s just not true. You, you’re going to need other people to help you along. Other people are going to are going to help build your career. And the more people that you can praise, the more people are we’re going to have your back. Now I will grant you. There’s some people, they are just praise consumption machines that they just, they will, they will just suck you dry. There will never be enough. And again, those are the kinds of folks that they’re probably afraid to praise anybody else. Okay. You can be measured with folks like that. Don’t, don’t be entirely stingy either because they’re telling you, I mean, they’re broadcasting their, and aching me to praise.

Kenneth Vogt (27:41):
It does matter to them. And even if you think, well, they’re never going to praise me back in any setting, maybe not, but they’ll do other things for you that they will see a cause there, they see the benefits themselves. So you’re still, you’re still a massing value there. You’re still a man you’re still collecting some, some favors owed. And so you can use that. Now, when it comes to praise, you know, it might be as easy as just like Bob, man, you got me out of a jam. I really appreciated. Or, or Sally, you know, you, you did a great job on that task. I assigned to you very good. And it’s a private thing. And it’s just between the two of you. And for some folks, they really need that. And, and you’re doing something very valuable for them. And it comes at no cost to you.

Kenneth Vogt (28:32):
Other praise you can give, you can you can give in front of other people in other words. So when you say, when you broadcast that, Hey, Jim did a great job for me on this in front of other people. You’re building them up in the eyes of others. And people love that. You know, it’s, it’s, it’s very valuable now, of course, it’s important to be sincere. You know, you don’t want to, you know, just be blowing smoke. You know, you don’t want to be faking it. Cause people can tell, we love to think that that when we’re faking stuff like that, that nobody’s noticing, everybody’s noticing we’re all good at reading and sincerity. It’s it’s, it’s not hard. So don’t, don’t kid yourself. Cause I’m sure you think about yourself. Well, I know when somebody is being insincere, so does everybody else. So, you know, don’t, don’t hand out false praise.

Kenneth Vogt (29:25):
If you don’t feel like giving a certain kind of credit don’t if, Hey, you know, they did it and they did a sloppy job and they turned it in late, you know, don’t praise them for being on time and doing a fabulous job. You can say, okay, well, you know, you can still thank them for getting the task complete, you know, but you know, take it as far as we can with sincerity and give other people a chance to feel good. It costs a little or nothing at all. And if you’re somebody that is known to be appreciative, when you come to someone to ask for help or to, to assign a task, they’re going to be far more likely to do it. And then there, there are some folks that you think you all, they have to do it. They work for me. That’s how it is.

Kenneth Vogt (30:10):
Yeah. Well, you, you, you’re fine. I find that there’s a big difference between people who will do things begrudgingly and people who will do things willingly. It’s well worth it. The, the cost of being nice and being appreciative of being kind is so low and the payoff is so high that it’s just always worth it. And you gotta get your ego out of the way. It’s just like, well, no, one’s going to do it as good as me. And I praise them for the shoddy work that they do is like, you know what, good enough is. Good enough. And if they did a good enough, that’s good enough. So, and that’s still praise worthy. You don’t only praise. Excellent praising, adequateness is entirely appropriate. And, and two, you don’t, sometimes you’re on the receiving end of this. Somebody says, I am, thank you. I really appreciate getting this done.

Kenneth Vogt (31:10):
And you’re like, oh, well, you know what? I didn’t do a great job. I did. I could’ve did it better. And you don’t up there. Praise, come on, except accept praise. That’s given if it’s given sincerely, it’s not given sincerely, that’s another conversation to have, but you know, mostly people are sincere. You know, they’re most people aren’t running around being phony 24 7, you know last we do feel we do encounter some folks like that, some of the time, and maybe you have to work with a few, but chances are your whole lab is people like that. You know? So, so B be part of a good culture in that regard. When you give praise, other people will start giving praise, you’ll start receiving praise. You’ll be part of an upward spiral of good behavior. And so you know, you can, you can be a leader in that regard and all of these things, you know, you, you think that the delegation looks like all I’m doing is putting, I’m just putting tasks on other people and putting work onto them.

Kenneth Vogt (32:14):
It’s actually a characteristic of leadership. People like to be led. They like leaders. They like somebody that will take responsibility. And so even if it involves them having to do some work, the fact that you take some responsibility, looks good to people and they feel good about it. And people like to help somebody that they think is, is taking charge. And part of it is just in the moment. It just means I don’t have to take charge her, raise somebody else’s taking charge. But part of it is, this is a person who’s going places I want to be on their good side. And, and you will find that people will do things for you that the same tasks they don’t want to do for somebody else. Why? Because they, they believe that you have somebody that matters. You have someone who’s going places and you know, it’s good for you and it’s good for them. So I’ve been monologuing for awhile there. Nick, is there anything else you wanted to say about all this that

Nick Oswald (33:12):
Was that was quite they’re quite the monologue. It was, it was quite us the very kind of, it was a better kind of full description of what’s what this is all about. One, couple of things that, that occurred to me let’s have a look at the notes. So a couple of things that occurred to me are one of the unusual situations, but maybe it’s not unusual, but one of the situations about science is that everyone’s often doing these techniques or you know, performing these procedures is, is as much a learning experience as a doing experience, especially when you’re further down the you’re towards the beginning of your career. And so the, the kind of emphasis, especially in the beginning on doing the hard miles, if you like on, you know, doing everything so that you can do it. And that that’s, that’s another angle on delegation that you shouldn’t really probably only really delegate once you knew how to do it yourself, perhaps.

Kenneth Vogt (34:23):
Yeah. That’s a fair observation. Absolutely.

Nick Oswald (34:26):
But I think that that can go too far the other way. And as much as once it gets to the seeds that you could do it, you know how to do it and, and say, no, you have to make an evaluation at some point, if there’s the opportunity to delegate, you have to make the evaluation of whether it’s worth spending the time and money and effort on delegating to free up your time. So that as you said, in the beginning, you can amplify yourself then effectively. And again, I think that, I think that there’s a tendency for people to hold onto that too for something somewhat too long, there’s kind of a pride in doing everything yourself in a way. And that’s not the most efficient way to work. A very

Kenneth Vogt (35:17):
Scalable way to work is what it is definitely

Nick Oswald (35:19):
Not. Well, it’s limited, you’re limited by the number of hours you have. Whereas if you can efficiently delegate, then then you’re amplifying yourself. I mean, for example, you know, the, the things that I’ve talked about earlier, you know, the kind of examples of delegation, where a company is making a cake for you. So you don’t have to make whole care. Imagine if you have to make everything from scratch that your, your your output would be tremendous, tremendously impacted. And so that, that’s, you know, one way to think about, you know, the, the, don’t say they’re not delegating. And so in a way, when, you know, wherever you are whatever resources you have at your disposal, it’s about using them in the best way to get the best result that you can for yourself and the people that are paying you

Kenneth Vogt (36:06):
That’s for sure. Well, I like the point you made earlier, too about the delegation could be about, you know, delegating to another company that just does something that creates kits or, you know, you delegate to a piece of equipment, you know, that the equipment does something that maybe you could do manually, but it’s just more efficient and, and less expensive and less time-consuming to let the machine do it. Or sometimes the machine can do something you can’t do, you know, you, you can’t really do it that microscope does. Your eyes can only do so much. Yeah.

Nick Oswald (36:41):
And it’s always worth looking around for ways that you can cost-effectively delegate like that. Like back in the day, people would make their own oligos and that, now, it would be unheard of you. You send it away and get someone else to make it, you know same with DNA sequencing. You would typically send it away to a specialist to get it done. Whereas back in the day, people would spend all day making a gel to do a bit of a sequencing and so on. So that’s always evolving. So that’s examples of where that kind of systematic delegation has kind of taken over and specific or become the norm and specific techniques. And you know, that will obviously continue to evolve. There was a, I remember, I can’t even, I wish I remembered what this book was, but I, what I read the safe, I book years ago, where, when I was in the lab and it was the base that was written in the fifties or something, and the, and the basis was, you know, it was a one scientist working in the lab and he had all these machines doing everything for him.

Nick Oswald (37:41):
So he just basically had to push the button and the whole experiment was set up. And I thought that was quite amazing as a, I think it was when I was doing my PhD, but in effect you can have something like that. You know, there’s increasing opportunities to have something like that, where the data keeps flowing towards you. And you can keep answering those questions that you’re there to answer. You’re also there to acquire skills, but, you know, that’s another way to look at the, you know, that it’s painful to delegate is, you know, because you lose the pride of, of being able to do that. You know, I made that gel, or maybe you prefer the hands-on nature of it, but again, it’s always a trade-off between you know, doing yourself delegating and th you, you, the costs involved in that, but the speed and the speed you can get the results the speed you can move forward.

Kenneth Vogt (38:35):
You know, there may be a career observation to make there too, perhaps you’re in the wrong job. If you really get excited about making that, you know, DNA sequencing gel, maybe you should be working for a DNA sequencing company, or then watch it rather than what you’re doing. You know, we can make choices like that. I have noticed that from, you know, my own background in software, there are people that are much happier building tools than building applications, for instance, or they like writing in assembly code rather than in a higher level language. Well, great. If that’s what you want to do, then go do that, make that career choice. But yeah, you can, you may find the opposite is true too. Like, I mean, I hated the low level languages. It was just so boring to me, to, to me, it was reinventing the wheel and, and some, some of the scientific work you do, you may feel that way.

Kenneth Vogt (39:27):
It’s like, man, all I’m ever doing is the same old, same old. I’m not, I’m not excited to buy this. I’m not, it’s, it’s not a career I’m looking forward to you know, 10 years down the road, I’m going to feel like man now was a waste of 10 years. Well, get the message now and figure out, okay, well what really should I be doing? Maybe you’re somebody that should be at a startup and taking a chance, but yeah, maybe the opposite is true. Maybe me and you would do much better in an, in a university lab than, than you would have to start up. Well, okay. Figure out who you are and what you want and which way you want to go. And you can do that.

Nick Oswald (40:05):
Yeah. I know it’s morphing into the the careers talk. I mean, it really is really is important to know that while, you know, some decades ago, science was about you doing everything at the bench, you know, doing most of a scientist being kind of self-sufficient the way of the world is that that becomes increasingly networked increasingly, you know,udistributed and that’s what’s happening. And what that does is it creates specialists opportunities for,ufor,uyou, you know, you as a scientist, you know, you can work in data, you can work in,uand you know, you can work in tech support. You can work in,uyou know, you can be the guy doing the DNA sequencing, as you said, can and all sorts of stuff. So that’s important to figure out that, you know, that traditional view of science, which is still quite prevalent, I think,uthe, the traditional view of a scientist, it’s much more differentiated than that. No.

Kenneth Vogt (41:06):
So I wanted to go back to being hard on the topic of the day and delegation and reference a couple of resources that are especially useful for those of you who have people to whom you can delegate because they work for you. There’s, there’s two articles that I wrote a number of years ago for our website called small business spread trends. And, but, and you might think, well, you know, this isn’t, this is a lab, this isn’t a business, but this is one of those situations where it is really good to look to other industries and see what best practices are. And, and here’s some things that apply absolutely the same, whether it’s about a business or a lab, one articles entitled the difference between managing and directing. And if those sound like synonyms to you, you need to read this article, especially if you are somebody’s boss.

Kenneth Vogt (42:03):
And then the second one is, do you know the difference between delegating and abdicating? Now you probably realize those aren’t synonyms, but do you know the difference? You know, which one is which, and do you know when you’re doing, when you’re abdicating, when you actually, you should be delegating, you never should be abdicating, but, but you know, when do you think you’re delegating, when in fact you’re abdicating, that’s worth reading, and by the way, anybody that’s worth reading, you don’t have to be a manager to, to gain something from that. You won’t be hurt if you’re not a manager and your region, one about managing and delegate and managing and directing, but it’s especially applicable to those who are bosses. So, so those are, those will be in the in the show notes and you can check those out.

Nick Oswald (42:48):
So that was again, another, another great round Roundup of another, another pillar topic from you Ken. And I think that people will people find that pretty useful. Excellent. I know that I have over the years,

Kenneth Vogt (43:05):
What I know you just said a pillar topic and that, wow. I like that word, but then, but it also made me think killer topic. Oh yeah.

Nick Oswald (43:12):
Killer killer killer of topic. Then you’ve got

Kenneth Vogt (43:15):
This pillar is even better than killer.

Nick Oswald (43:20):
Okay. So there’s lots more where that came from, if you haven’t done so already episodes, one to nine of the podcast, and Ken goes even more foundational, even more killer pillar stuff. He looks at things like human needs, core mindsets, charisma factors, which are all really useful tools for understanding yourself, how you work and how other people work. So if you haven’t done that, do that, do so already. And you can get the show notes for this one this episode at bitesizebio.Com/Thehappyscientist all one word. And this is episode what are we on now? This is number 35, 35, that we were zooming through these. And and thank you if you’re still here and at number 35 and you’ve come all the way through yeah, go to episode 35 you will find the show notes, which outlines what Ken was talking about here. And we’ll give,give you the link to the, the articles that Ken wrote all those years ago. Especially the difference between managing and directing is a really useful one to get your head around. I did want Ken to take a picture of his mouse mat and put that on, the show notes, but I don’t think we can do so for copyright reasons. It’s a, what is it? A

Kenneth Vogt (44:44):
Billboard? It was a, yeah, it was a Dilbert mousepad. And it said, yeah, I did. I did nothing today. And it’s still got paid.

Nick Oswald (44:53):
There you go. Maybe that’s a bit extreme, but it’s kind of extreme delegation. And that you can also find us if you like this stuff, you can find us on Facebook, Facebook.com/thehappyscientistclub all one word. And you can contact us there, ask us questions, and we will be putting things in there periodically for your for learning benefit. Hopefully. So again, thank you Ken, for another great episode. Thank you. And thanks to everyone for listening, and we’ll see you next time.

Outro (45:30):
The happy scientist is brought to you by Bitesize Bio, your mentor in the lab. Bitesize Bio features, thousands of articles and webinars contributed by hundreds of PhD, scientists and scientific companies who freely offer their hard, won wisdom and solutions to the Bitesize Bio community.

Scroll To Top