Myron Beard is a business psychologist and world-class consult- ant, author, and speaker. He has worked with thousands of executives on facilitating strategy development; creating high-performing teams… Read more
The Healthcare Leader and the Delegation Matrix
The 1999 sci-fi action movie The Matrix was a resounding hit, forever changing the sci-fi genre and spawning tropes that are still referenced in popular culture today: black sunglasses, slow-motion leans, and the infamous red pill/blue bill choice, to name a few.
The Delegation Matrix, featured in my 2019 book The DNA of Physician-Leadership may have just as big of an impact on your organization as its namesake film had at the box office. The added benefit? No mediocre sequels!
Now enter with me, if you will, the world of The Delegation Matrix.
As a healthcare leader, it is important to recognize that different people on your team have different skills, interests, and temperaments. Routine work that Kevin loves might drive Rhonda crazy. Alternately, Rhonda might be able to sift quickly through complex work that Kevin isn’t suited to tackle.
Many healthcare leaders either give everyone on their staff similar duties out of a sense of fairness, or dole out the trickiest tasks to the most senior staff. However, neither of these strategies optimizes organizational efficiency since neither strategy leverages subordinates’ skillsets.
In order to decide which of your workers should take on which tasks, sort the work you intend to delegate by its complexity. Set routine, simple projects to one side and more complex or arduous tasks on the other. Then you’re ready to run things through The Delegation Matrix below.
As the Matrix suggests, more complex, strategic and multifaceted work should go to your most capable subordinates, not necessarily your most tenured.
More routine, simple tasks should go to your subordinates whose skills are not as suited for complex or multifaceted duties. The exception to this rule occurs when you are trying to develop the skills of an employee whose proficiencies are not yet up to muster.
Perhaps most importantly, The Delegation Matrix suggests never assigning simple, routine tasks to employees with skill sets that allow them to handle more. The team only wins when everyone is meeting his or her full potential.
So, there you have it. The Delegation Matrix may have a lot less frowning Keanu Reeves than The Matrix films, but I hope it will have a greater impact on your organization. And, if it makes you feel cooler to put on your dark shades when you delegate, that’s alright too.
THE TAKEAWAY: For the healthcare leader, use The Delegation Matrix to assign tasks to the most well-suited employees. In doing so, you’ll maximize the potential of your whole team.
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Physicians are increasingly moving into leadership roles and possess enormous potential to advance health care. However, clinical training and practice does not provide the necessary skills for a transition from clinician into physician-leader. In fact, the very skills that make for an outstanding physician often compete, or interfere, with the skills required to be successful in wider leadership roles…