Has that person ever tried to convey information to you? How did that work out? Can the Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) in your organization effectively transfer their knowledge?
Valuable expertise can forever walk out the door at any moment, so we need to constantly harvest our organization’s knowledge base and spread it around.
Here are the qualities to look for in SMEs who will be able to build the knowledge base in your organization.
Desire to share knowledge: WANTING to help others and share knowledge is THE single most important quality. Ask the SME how important training is to the organization. Ultimately, a good SME is passionate about both his/her subject AND overall organization performance. Passionate people have stories to tell, examples to share, and a desire to do so.
Competence: The SME should be someone who has demonstrated competence and is respected by others as a SME (not just a self- proclaimed SME). The right person has credibility with peers and the reputation as the “go to” person … the person who knows the process, the history behind the process, and how to troubleshoot the process.
Communication skills: Desire to share and competence in the subject matter are of little value if that knowledge can’t be effectively shared. Ask the SME to explain something to you. Evaluate how he/she explains it, and note if you are asked questions to see if you understand. Evaluate how the person makes you feel. Patronized? Ignorant? …or Valued, nurtured, and helped? Essentially, be the first student and evaluate teaching potential!
There’s no doubt that a SME can be a great training resource; and with proper preparation, management and transition, an internal subject matter expert can become a subject matter educator!