Business Focus or Self Development? Make it both

Is it possible to align business focus and self development at the same time?
How can we create clear department or company goals or relate these to our goals?

In this episode, Benjamin talk about how to make business focus and self development work together. We also provide you numerous tips on how to make it work.

Here are some specific tips:

  • How you can align both 
    • Be aware about your own long term goals 
    • Don’t think in specific positions 
    • Think what you want to do 
    • What do you need to improve? 
    • Think about your strength first 
    • What are you passionate about?
    • What are the needs on the level you want to get to?
    • Know your rate limiting weaknesses
  • Be clear about your company and department goals? Your supervisors goals!
    • How do your ambition fit?
    • What are your personal company goals?
    • Can you get on the right project?
    • What is possible?
  • Have a discussion with your supervisor and your mentor 
    • Speak about the win for the supervisor and the department.
    • What initiatives or specific projects could you become involved in?
    • What opportunities exist outside of your company?
    • Does it make sense to work in professional associations like PSI or ASA and bring knowledge back?

Listen to this episode and share this with others who might learn from it!


Alexander: You’re listening to the effective statistician podcast, the weekly podcast with Alexander Schacht,  Benjamin Piske  and Sam Gardner, designed to help you reach your potential to lead great science and serve patients without becoming overwhelmed by work.

Subscribe to our Newsletter!

Do you want to boost your career as a statistician in the health sector? Our podcast helps you to achieve this by teaching you relevant knowledge about all the different aspects of becoming a more effective statistician.

Today we are talking about something that’s on your mind, not every day, but can come up on a more regular basis. Should I focus on my self-development or should I focus on moving the business forward? I think it should nearly always be both and why is that the case? Well, listen to the discussion with Benjamin about that.

 I’m producing this podcast in association with PSI, A community dedicated to Leading and promoting the use of Statistics within the healthcare industry for the benefit of patients. Join PSI today to further develop your statistical capabilities with access to the video on demand Content Library, free registration to all PSI webinars and much much more. So the reduced rate is actually only 20 pounds for non-high income countries and 95 pounds for high-income countries. So really, really reasonable head over to psi and become a PSI member today. 

Welcome to another episode. I’m talking today again with Benjamin. How are you doing? 

Benjamin: Oh, very very well. Thanks Alex! was yeah, it’s good. It’s been a while since we talked. So it’s really good having a nice topic today to discuss and see what our experiences are. 

Alexander: The topic is a kind of sparking from a discussion I had quite a long time ago, but it kind of was in my mind for quite some time. You know, sometimes you have these kinds of discussions and  questions that kind of keep coming up in your mind because they are so important. And I once had a discussion with a more senior, more experienced statistician at the time. And he was asking, If at work, you need to make a decision and you can decide what’s best for the company or what’s best for your personal development for your promotion and things like that, what would you decide for the company or whether you advance personally? It’s not quite a lot about it, and I thought. Why would you need to decide in which kind of situation, would you need to decide between one and the other? Benjamin, do you have any experience in that regard? any situation that comes to your mind?

Benjamin:  Well, I would have probably asked the same question though I think that being a line manager for quite a while now, I think that is quite often the case, that people have to think that they have to make a decision between either company goals or individual goals and I don’t have like a real story for this. It’s just more of my experience where I think we’re often trying to understand, as you said, why do we have to decide? Because, I would have expected people to understand what the company goals are. And kind of fit there. I wouldn’t say it fits, but maybe aligned a little bit to their goals. but I didn’t usually get to the point because it is, for me, always quite important to make it clear to them. And sometimes they didn’t even think about it. That the company goals are actually kind of a frame work. I mean, if you were going to a company it’s all around. So the company should have a goal and you and your position, whatever your position is  part of It. So, and you do sometimes when you often have the feeling. Well, you probably have the feeling that whatever you would like to achieve, The company doesn’t offer you, which is where people struggling need to decide whether one or the other. But actually my experience is that they didn’t even check whether their goal fits into this because let’s put an example, if they think that there is no promotion possible. So, how can we, the present goal is to get a promotion. Did they ever check? And did they ever make a plan of when? or why should they be promoted? So give the company the opportunity to react to this or the manager and line manager or head of the department etcetera and align to the goal. And that is something where I struggled with, that people often think individually, and don’t think about companies and this is exactly what I think the discrepancy that you just described saying, what should I decide that one or this one? But what I found out is just a little bit of ignorance for people or maybe also like, I don’t know, inexperienced people that do not think all combine both of them together. 

Alexander: Yeah, of course, I think to get even into thinking about this decision. You need to be clear about company goals and you need to be clear about your own goals.

Benjamin:  Yeah, absolutely. 

Alexander: So if you’re not clear on both of these then, you’ll never even face this decision. 

I completely agree, it should be really rare that this comes up. Because In planning your personal goals you should be in your position to be possible to align them with the company goals, and to make sure that you’re working on projects that helps you to move forward, that helps you to develop yourself, that helps you to work towards your strength so that when it’s time for promotion, You have all the case studies. That shows how you contributed value to the company. So how did you work to progress to help the company? 

Benjamin: Absolutely. I think that is the point. I think we touched on that topic before, that was one of our podcasts,  we talked about the goals. And I think that is something where I still see room for improvement. Let’s put it this way, because you can’t expect that all the goals are being rolled out to you from the company wise. So, this is something where you also have to understand a little bit more about the company, which is like talking about CRO business. The  first thing is, for example, Financial aspects of your study. So when you are responsible for the study and responsible for the resources and responsible for the tasks, it’s utmost important to understand what impact it has to have a good run, like financially. Well planned and running study because this is the foundation of a CRO business. I mean, actually any business but CRO business, it’s more financially organized and on the pharma side or on the study side, so that is something that you have to basically dig into the topics of understanding, why the specific goals that we maybe get moved out and the yearly goal setting from the company are important and what is the part that you are contributing to in theory, you should be contributing to all of their goals being rolled out because otherwise they wouldn’t make sense. But that is the piece where you need to engage yourself to understand what the goals are. That’s the one side, and the other side, that is more, the point where you probably would be more interested and think more, or maybe are happy to spend more time about individual goals. And, that is. But overall, whatever goal it is, you need to spend time. You need to dedicate your time. Some of your time to understand the goals and work on your goals, you set your goals and do the first step really in getting the goals in your mind, on paper or in the system whatsoever, to work towards your goals. And once you do this, there isn’t, there shouldn’t be a discrepancy between company goals and individual goals. 

Alexander:   And if there is And there’s quite a big difference. Then probably you’re in the wrong position.

Benjamin: In the wrong company.

Alexander:  Or the wrong company. Yeah, and then you need to have a completely different discussion with your supervisor. Always your recruiter.

Benjamin: But talking about the supervisor, I think there is also an underestimated point  In the whole puzzle, maybe, to say that, if you don’t think this is both fitting together and there’s a gap that needs to be closed. It’s your supervisors, the number one to go to person to close this gap. As we said before, like about promotion, for example, if you have the feeling that there isn’t anything that you can, you know, where you can proceed or, work towards a promotion or even, there’s that there’s a position open or something that It’s not being offered. So who is the person that could possibly offer this to you or that could work with their management and we’re offering it to you or maybe to find opportunities that you are looking for, which you are not aware of, maybe even the supervisor isn’t aware of parties. But he is the one, or she is the one to work on this. It’s their responsibility to close the gap. It’s not necessarily yours. 

Alexander: Yeah, I think that is where I always start with my discussions about goal setting with people. I always ask about, what are your personal goals? Where do you want to go? How do you want to develop in the next couple of years? What strengths do you want to further develop? What kind of rate limiting weaknesses? Do you want to close? Yeah, and with rate-limiting weaknesses, I think of what are those things that you need to improve so that your strength can fully Blossom. So, I don’t know. Maybe you kind of have a specific behavior that upsets people. And I had that  symbol in the past. And so, I was working on my supervisor to improve that, because that was really the one thing that whenever was time for discussions about promotions. That kind of thing would come up and would, you know. 

Benjamin: Push your back.

 Alexander: Yeah, and you can, walk over water, but it doesn’t matter. So that’s really important. And have a good understanding about what are your strengths? What are your rate-limiting limitations? And have a discussion with your supervisor about it? With your mentor about it. Potentially, that’s also something like skip level supervisor discussion. What  do they see? what kind of skills are needed and that you could work on. So try to think about that and if you set your goals, don’t set your goals. Like I want to get to this position. In terms of, I want to become a group leader of that group. Or I want to be exactly in that position or whatsoever. Think about the more kind of, in terms of what you would like to work on, what our kind of the areas, because positions change all the time. Maybe that position isn’t there anymore in two years because of a restructuring. Because it may be that position is filled with a very capable person and you’ll never get it because that person’s itself was for the next 20 years. So think about it, well, from a capabilities point of view. 

Benjamin: That’s a good point. It’s really, it’s also something that I encourage people to do to really put in their work.  Work on how, when, where you see yourself in a one to two years time, whatsoever. And then what do you need to do to get there? Or what do you need to stop doing to get there? So, that is, but still I think that is something where every individual needs to take time. I know time is so precious, but it’s something where one doesn’t work without the other. And I think the importance of these goal setting and aligning your individual strategy with a company strategy is important for a long-term relationship that you desire or that you possibly desire. I mean, depending on what your plans are. But that is really where I asked or I need to, we need to encourage every individual to work on, including myself. So, whenever the goal setting is where you think about doing something. So, where do you see yourselves? What are your goals in one year, two years time, and how do we structure them getting there? And as simple as this.

Alexander: I think it’s really important because, for example, if you go for a vacation, You don’t just jump in your car and drive off.  You must have a plan. What do you want to do on a vacation? Do you want to go to the beach, to the mountains? To do city sightseeing or whatsoever? What’s our goal? And then we decide on the destination. We plan everything and then we go into the car.

Benjamin: That’s a good example. 

Alexander: But at work, sometimes there are people who have other perceptions. People just jump into the car and drive off. And then, they wonder why they are going in circles. Or don’t end up anywhere because you just end up where other people tell you. And there’s always a kind of some flexibility in terms of what are the best projects to work on? Is it, do you want to work on this big study, where you will be responsible for a very specific task or area where you can really kind of excel there. Maybe, you need to test this patient reported outcome that needs to be developed and you want to work on the validation and all these kinds of different things, because you’re really curious about that area or is there a smaller study that you can run completely by yourself? Because you want to get the feeling of how it is to completely own a study. And then maybe that’s not the big sexy phase of free study. But maybe a smaller study. Or not as important study. And what are your goals? It always comes back to that. Otherwise, you just spend your time at work and you’re busy. You do a lot of things, but they are all not going in the right direction and not going in the same direction. if you do 100 steps. In every direction, you don’t move very fast. But if most of these steps are largely aligned with your goal and they don’t need to be all on the straight line, and never on the straight line, but that really pushes you forward. 

 Benjamin: I absolutely agree. And that’s why I think, to go back to your initial question about whether to focus on business or self-development. That is not the real question. It shouldn’t be a real question.

 Alexander: If you have that problem, then you need to think about the goals and you need to think about your position or your company. 

Benjamin: Absolutely. It’s interesting. I think this is like you are caring and my feeling is that more and more people are a little bit, I wouldn’t say annoyed but insecure and how to deal with the goal setting and doing things. And so I think, you really work with your supervisor. Request this from your supervisor to work on the goals. To really put something in writing and make a plan and align the goals, and then we all go to the next steps for you. Basically,  what we discussed in the previous episode is about breaking the Goal’s down into different steps and putting them into different ones, or just put them into a nice structure and have it well organized and then do it. Break it down into your I don’t know weekly or even daily plans and so to understand that you’re not leaving the past so that the number of steps there are not going towards the goal is rather limited. So that is something then. That’s the second step. But in general the first step and this is what we’re talking about today is really bringing the goals or making more and thinking more about the goals in general and aligning them to whatever company goals you have and whatever individual goals you desire.

Alexander:  And in terms of being put on the project. That helps your supervisor to make sure that the right people work on the right jobs. I have worked once with the Supervisor And she said, I have this person in my team who’s really good from a methodological point of view. So whenever there’s something tricky coming up, something that requires more research, deep thinking, collaboration with a more experienced statistician, these hard mathematical, statistical problems, I give it to this person because that’s what he loves and other persons in her team didn’t love it. They wanted to do more work on other things. So great. You make sure you get the right people on the right project and that helps everybody. Same in an elite team that I was in for quite some time, On a recurring basis. We would have discussions about, Is everybody sitting in the right position? Whenever you’re on an annual basis, we will look into all the different people, just always some kind of turnover. There’s some new people joining and whenever this kind of change in people and also the change in portfolio. You need to look into all the different people that you have and see how best you can put this puzzle together. So on one hand, you have all your projects and this also includes any kind of initiatives. And stuff like this. And on the other hand, you have all the different people with different skill sets and good lead teams. Look across all the different groups and make sure that the right people sit in the right spots. And if that means that threats and needs to switch the team’s, well then they switch teams. 

Benjamin: But to understand what the right skill set is, you have to tell your supervisor what your goals are because that is the tricky part, you know, if I as a supervisor think you are the person, you may be able to do this. But if this is your goal, if this is for you, putting you into a happy position. That’s a different story. So that’s why in the goal setting, we have to emphasize where or what do you want to achieve? What do you want to do? What is your strength? So what do you love? What do you hate? So if you don’t like things, And even if you’re good at it  I will put you into the position because you’re good at this, but if I don’t know that you don’t like it.

Alexander: And then everybody loses because everybody is frustrated, supervisors frustrated because he doesn’t get the results and has these difficult discussions and the team member is frustrated because he’s not working on the things that’s fun for him. 

Benjamin:  So yeah, that is also the tricky part being a Supervisor is kind of giving the support. You try. There’s always the dependency on the individual. So if the individual doesn’t make up their mind and think about the goal setting, think about what they would like to achieve individually. The supervisor is very limited and so doesn’t contribute to align the goals to the company goals, to even make it possible that you can Reach your individual goals. So, these are no separate positions or separate responsibilities. They all belong together into one working function. And that’s a very interesting but tricky part to work on. 

Alexander: Okay, we talked a lot about, Personal goal setting, company goal setting, different opportunities, and how to clarify all these. How do you, you need to explore your own strengths and limitations? You need to see what are different projects that best fit your development goals and make these all aligned so that in the next weeks, months and years. You’re progressing in one Direction. Towards your goals. And so if you haven’t had that discussion with your supervisor yet, or maybe not clear about what are your strengths and limitations, then? The time is now. Yesterday was better, but today is better than tomorrow. Okay. Thanks so much. Have a nice time. Talk to you again. 

Benjamin: Bye. Bye. 

Alexander: The show was created in association with PSI. Thanks to Reinne, who helps us in the background. And thank you for listening. Head over to to learn more about this podcast to boost your career and to find many more free resources. And please tell others about it as well. So they can benefit from it to reach your potential, Lead Great science. Have patience Just Be an Effective statistician. 

Never miss an episode!

Join thousends of your peers and subscribe to get our latest updates by email!

Get the shownotes of our podcast episodes plus tips and tricks to increase your impact at work to boost your career!

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit