Building Others Expertise and self reliance

Written by Grant Heinrich, 14 May 2020

The Challenge

Whilst experts are naturally the most informed people in their various areas of expertise, there is often considerable merit in their equipping others to exercise greater self-reliance and build their capabilities in doing so. This might include building the capabilities of others in their technical cohort from a risk-management or burden-sharing perspective. It might also include building the capabilities of other stakeholders outside of the technical cohort to be able to exercise greater self-reliance and be less dependent on the expert for every small request. Many experts report that they are often over-burdened by relatively low value requests that stakeholders might reasonably be expected to resolve for themselves – if properly equipped to do so. Responding all day to lower level requests often comes at the expense of higher order activities that would reflect a more effective use of their specialised talents. Being constantly dragged into responding to lower order requests and making insufficient progress on higher order (strategic) activities can be discouraging and can also result in those experts being seen as lower level contributors. Equipping others to be more self-sufficient often results in less of a hold up in moving things forward.

The challenge often is that the development of the skills to effectively engage others in taking greater ownership for learning the necessary skills – as well as ensuring that appropriate levels of skill are acquired – are skillsets that the experts themselves have not been trained to do effectively. With the best of intentions, they write training manuals which no one reads. Or they develop brown bag lunch sessions which few attend, or describe as unengaging – or they bombard people with complex content and wonder why little of it assimilated and applied as a result.

This module conveys tools that assist in experts in:

  • Delegating – or negotiating the reasonable transfer of responsibility, authority and know how with stakeholders

  • Coaching skills – to assist others in exercising greater self-reliance, confidence and capability (often informally) rather than accepting all the burden of responsibility themselves

The Content

In this pod session, your team member discussed and explored with their fellow podsters:

  • Are we complicit in our own sub-optimal engagement if we, as experts, neglect to negotiate who might reasonably responsible for what? It’s natural that people approach us as the authorities in our fields but are we complicit in stakeholders remaining under-informed and over-dependent – when they could be equipped to exercise greater responsibility and appropriate degrees of expertise themselves? Do we believe that we have a right to explore appropriate “division of labour”? Do we secretly enjoy being needed – rescuing others and bailing them out – even if it comes at the expense of higher order engagement on our part?

  • Participants learn about the IGRROW conversational framework and practise deploying it as a method of informally building others’ competency, confidence and self-reliance. They explore which situations this methodology might be utilised for in their everyday work with others in their technical cohort as well as other stakeholders.

  • They will begin shaping an action plan to build others’ expertise – appropriately – and levels of responsibility so that they can focus their efforts on the optimal deployment of their talents rather than being over-burdened by low-level requests and enabling problematic dependencies..

The Punchlines

  • You don’t have to be someone’s formal manager in order to delegate to them – or negotiate the transfer of responsibility and authority. Often people will respond positively if the benefits of their being enabled to be more self-reliant and capable are made clear to them.

  • Sometimes people have negative connotations with terms like “delegation” and “coaching” – whereby they perceive these as risky tactics that will result in sub-optimal outcomes taking longer to clear up than it might have been to have simply carried out the task oneself. However, there are tried and tested methods that eliminate or significantly reduce such risks. The tools in the workshop provide a framework for the responsible and often gradual transfer of responsibility in ways that address both the skill levels necessary as well as the attitude of ownership on the other person’s part.

  • The 9 steps for delegating and the IGRROW framework are user-friendly tools to assist in the planning and execution of these conversations.