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Leading Anyone – From Novices to Experts – 5

Stephen Billing, September 14, 2008

How can you tell if a person in your team is an expert? And how should your leadership style change if you have an expert in your team? 

This is the final post in a series of five covering Dreyfus and Dreyfus’s stages of adult development that I came across in Patricia Benner’s book From Novice to Expert. The five stages are:

Expert

The expert performer no longer relies on an analytic principle or maxim to connect his or her understanding of the situation to an appropriate action. Experts have developed an intuitive grasp of each situation and are able to zero in accurately on the heart of the problem without wasteful consideration of alternative diagnoses and solutions.

Experts see what needs to be done and how to achieve the goal. They are able to make more subtle and refined discriminations than proficient performers. They are able to distinguish among many situations that would be seen as similar by the proficient performer.

Implications for Leaders: Don’t ask your expert performers to tell you or others the rules by which they work. They will tell you rules they hardly remember, because they do not follow rules any more. Instead, ask them to describe specific situations in which they had to exercise judgement. Ask them to describe what they did and why they chose that option and not a different one. Your proficient, competent and beginning performers will all benefit.

More in the next and final post of this series…

This series of posts draws heavily on Benner’s book

From Novice to Expert

and Drefus and Dreyfus’s article

From Socrates to Expert Systems

The implications for leadership are my own. What are your thoughts?

Benner P. 1984. From Novice to Expert, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

 

Leading Anyone – From Novices to Experts 4

Stephen Billing, September 13, 2008

After competence there is one more stage before a person achieves expert status. This is the stage of proficiency. How should your leadership style change to address this movement from competence to proficiency? 

This is the fourth post in a series of five covering Dreyfus and Dreyfus’s stages of adult development that I first came across in Patricia Benner’s book From Novice to Expert. The five stages are:

 

Proficient

A proficient performer sees the performance in terms of the whole, rather than the individual aspects of performance, and is guided by maxims. Proficient performers have a perspective based on experience and they see the meaning of the situation in terms of longer term goals.

They have learnt from experience what typical events to expect in a given situation and how plans need to be modified in response to these events. Being able to recognise whole situations, they can now see when the expected normal picture does not materialise. Decision making becomes less laboured because they can distinguish which aspects of the situation are important and which are less important. Proficient performers can therefore consider fewer options (the important ones) and home in accurately on the important aspects of the problem.

Maxims are useful to the proficient performer, as they reflect nuances of the situation, but these maxims would be unintelligible to the competent or novice performer because they can mean one thing in a certain situation and another in a different situation. Moving from competent to proficient performance means that intuitive behaviour must take the place of reasoned responses.

Compared to competent performers, proficient performers are much better and faster at diagnosing a situation. Then they must decide what action to take. For example, a competent relationship manager may know that a better relationship needs to be established with a key buyer in an at-risk account, but must calculate how to go about improving that relationship.

Implication for Leaders: For proficient performers, provide plenty of opportunities for them to reflect (with you as non-judgmental sounding board) on the positive and negative outcomes of their actions to reinforce the associations between situational discriminations and the associated responses. Help them to identify successful and unsuccessful responses. This reflection will accelerate the process of developing practised intuition to replace reasoned responses.

More in future posts…

This series of posts draws heavily on Benner’s book

From Novice to Expert

and Drefus and Drefus’s article

From Socrates to Expert Systems

The implications for leadership are my own. What are your thoughts?

Benner P. 1984. From Novice to Expert, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

 

Leading Anyone – From Novices to Experts 3

Stephen Billing, September 12, 2008

How can you tell when an advanced beginner is on the way to developing competence? How should your leadership style change to deal with this? This is the third post in a series of five covering Dreyfus and Dreyfus’s stages of adult development that I came across in Patricia Benner’s book From Novice to Expert. The stage after advanced beginner is competent. The five stages are:

Competent

Competence is where the performer begins to see his or her actions in terms of long-range goals or plans of which he or she is consciously aware. The plan dictates which attributes and aspects of the current and expected future situation are to be considered and which can be ignored. So, for a competent manager, a plan establishes a perspective and the plan is based on conscious, abstract, analytic contemplation of the problem. Competent performers become more and more involved in their work, compared to the detached rule-following behaviour of the beginner.

For example, I worked on a project with a person for whom every problem, issue or question that arose seemed equally important. This led to him spending time on things that were not important, and he worried a lot about things that were not significant in the scheme of things. When others asked questions, he was concerned if he did not know the answer, and this diverted him from the objectives we had agreed. As the mentor, I had to keep reminding him of the plan and asking him how the current problem fitted in with the plan, providing guidance on this frequently.

A competent performer lacks the fluency, speed and flexibility of a proficient one, but does gain a sense of mastery from the ability to plan the work, relating the various components to one another in a way that helps to achieve efficiency and organisation.

Implication for leaders: Help competent people to devise a plan or choose a perspective so that they can distinguish and decide for themselves what is more important and what can be ignored.

More in future posts…

This series of posts draws heavily on Benner’s book

From Novice to Expert

and Drefus and Dreyfus’s article

From Socrates to Expert Systems

The implications for leadership are my own. What are your thoughts?

Benner P. 1984. From Novice to Expert, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

 

Leading Anyone – From Novices to Experts 2

Stephen Billing, September 11, 2008

When does a novice stop being a novice? How should your leadership style change as the novice develops his or her skills? This is a second post in a series of five covering Dreyfus and Dreyfus’s stages of adult development I discovered in Patricia Benner’s book From Novice to Expert. The stage after novice is advanced beginner. The five stages are:

Advanced Beginner

An advanced beginner can demonstrate marginally acceptable performance because they have enough experience to note, or have pointed out to them by a mentor, the recurring situational components that are global characteristics (called aspects) that can be identified only through prior experience. They need to see examples so they can identify these characteristics. Instructors can provide guidelines for recognising these aspects which can be made explicit. The guidelines will give cues, but no one cue is definitive in all situations.

A manager who can explain steps in delegation but who doesn’t pick good situations to delegate tasks is demonstrating the advanced beginner stage.

Implication for leaders: Show lots of examples for advanced beginners so they can learn to recognise new aspects of situations.

More in future posts…

This series of posts draws heavily on Benner’s book

From Novice to Expert

and Dreyfus and Dreyfus’s article

From Socrates to Expert Systems

The implications for leadership are my own. What are your thoughts?

Benner P. 1984. From Novice to Expert, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

 

Leading Anyone – From Novices to Experts 1

Stephen Billing, September 10, 2008

You know you have to adjust your leadership style to suit your team members. Tick. But how do you decide where your team members are at? Have you come across Patricia Benner’s very interesting way of thinking of the development level of people as they move From Novice to Expert?

Rather than using simplistic two by two matrices of task / relationship needs like situational leadership does, Benner applies to nursing practice the work of Stuart and Hubert Dreyfus who studied groups of people who rely heavily on the synthesis of expert practice such as chess players and airline pilots. It is interesting to consider how to lead and help people develop depending on their stage of skill acquisition.

The Dreyfus brothers identified five stages of skill acquisition for adults moving from novice to expert practitioner in actual applied situations. This is a situational not a traits or talent model of skill acquisition. It distinguishes between the level of skilled performance that can be achieved through principles and theory learned in a classroom, and the context-dependent judgments and skills of the expert that can only be acquired through experience of real situations. Think about a key member of your team, someone you are finding challenging at the moment. Are they:

1.  Novice

Starting out, a novice is a beginner with no context who needs rules to follow. The rules by definition are context-free. This rule-based behaviour is limited and inflexible. But with no experience to draw on, novices require rules to guide them. However following these rules legislates against expert performance because the rules cannot tell the novice what relevant task to perform in a given situation. The rule can only say how to perform a task once it has been decided that the task should be performed.

Students are not the only novices. Any manager entering an unfamiliar situation they don’t have experience of may be limited to a novice level of performance in that situation.

Implication for leaders: Stay close to the novice performer and provide rules to follow so that they can learn how to do various tasks.

More in future posts…

This series of posts draws heavily on Benner’s book

From Novice to Expert

and Dreyfus and Dreyfus’s article

From Socrates to Expert Systems

The implications for leadership are my own. What are your thoughts?

Benner P. 1984. From Novice to Expert, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.