Thursday, October 8, 2015

How Important is for Subject Matter Experts Acquiring Management Skills

People should take care of themselves and excel the core competencies of managerial skills.

Managerial expertise is a useful skill for anyone to have. Subject Matter Experts (SME) are just that - they provide technical and subject matter expertise. If they are pointing to a change to a managerial position, there should be some mechanism or program for elevating these management skills where they have not been a job requirement.  As a SME, knowing how management works and what management expects from you will help you add value, even if you never wind up managing anyone. People learn and excel their own managerial quality through which they become assets of the organization. More specifically, how important is to acquire Managerial Skill when you are working as a Subject Matter Expert or Technical Professionals?


There is a huge difference in being competent and excelling at 'things' and excelling at working with people. These are mutually exclusive skill sets possessed by few. There are many examples of technicians, who have excelled in their role as a technician, later failing as a manager when promoted. So, like many others things, it depends - on your organizational structure, existing programs for management training, industry, location, and the ability of HR/Training to create these avenues. If there are performance needs or gaps, and the elevation of SMEs to management positions, then there should have been a performance needs assessment that indicates management training for non-management employees will improve the performance of the company. It is the responsibility of the manager to provide feedback to the SME, Tech professional if he/she is found deficient in such skills and nominate them for appropriate learning interventions. It is equally important for the SME and Tech professional to do introspection and ask for appropriate learning support.


People should take care of themselves and excel the core competencies of managerial skills. The Peter Principle is a concept in management theory formulated by Laurence J. Peter in which the selection of a candidate for a position is based on the candidate's performance in their current role, rather than on abilities relevant to the intended role. Every employee will rise or get promoted to his or her level of incompetence. Only people work over the core competencies for that they got selected. People start adopting the situation rather they do something different or innovative, wait for the things which come downward direction (superior to subordinate) and start implementing. That's why when they got a promotion, he/she is not very much sure what he need to do, sometimes they leave from there because the lack of competencies and less managerial skills. So on that position where they start working on initial phase, they should give some extra time on his/her personal development or company also should take initiative to do some managerial skills training programs, very few of company are doing and they got success. That's why few companies have excellent employer branding,


Managerial skill is not only dealing with people. It's also about understanding the business and getting the work done and aligning to the management's expectations. Many SMEs also have the skills of a manager. Only thing is until organizations provide them the opportunity to demonstrate it. Subject matter expertise only matters and is only relevant if it is appropriately shared and used within the organization. Assuming someone wants to continue to be an SME versus a leader of people, they still need to be able to focus on the "how" they're getting things done. These types tend to be very focused on "what" they know and what they can do, and they may lose sight of or have rough edges around the "how" they get things done. Their managers and leaders would be well served to have courageous dialogue with them about the what and the how to help them understand the competencies related to emotional intelligence that will help them be effective in broader, bigger, deeper ways.


The Subject Matter Expert and the technique professional aspire to excel in their respective roles and grow in professional stature. A manager, a SME and a tech professional, invariably, will come across some common challenges to deal with, common performance expectations to meet. Everyone must have time management skill, the complexity of managing time will be wider and deeper for a manager. The scope will be narrower for a SME or tech professional than a manager. For example, a manager is supposed to assess and mitigate risks. Who will advise the manager about technology risks and domain-specific risks other than the Tech expert and the SME? So, within a limited scope, the SME and the tech expert are expected to have a risk assessment and mitigation skills. Multi-disciplinary work is almost the order of the day in which contrasting ideas, views will surface often. If the SME and the tech professionals are devoid of collaboration and conflict resolution skills, how long will they remain “valued members” in the team? Two more skills qualify to be common among these three roles – presentation skill and coaching/mentoring skill. The context of the work may mandate the concerned SME and Tech Professional to have an estimation, prioritization, and process management skills as well. Development of interpersonal skills while expanding on one's technical knowledge is key. A technical proficient person but having poor interpersonal/ management skills will lead to a loss in productivity.


Gaining new skills should be inspired and driven by individual recognizing that it adds value to them, at times at their own expense. Depending on HR or organization wouldn't help much. The lack of some basic soft skills can seriously impair the specialist ability to communicate his/her expertise. In consulting, services, solutions, all customer-facing practitioners (consultants, systems architects, project managers, subject matter experts/SMEs, etc.) are required to play different roles in addition to their primary job roles . Depending on the skills and leadership needs of the engagement or project, this often includes assuming an engagement leader role at some point - so all need to have leadership/managerial skills as part of their professional growth and development. Firstly, managers must have the mindset that they have subordinates or people that counting on them to success. Most of the managers are likely to focus on delivering own result instead of team result. This is not easy to change because this means a lot of work and responsibilities. It's not easy to accept a team that we don't hire, incompetence or we don't know, the root cause is the manager mindset need to be changed. once they change it then only managing people and result becoming easy and better.


Being technically savvy without managerial skills will work in old corporate cultures who are experiencing turnover low morale decreased productivity and absenteeism, but at today’s business dynamic, a leader who wants to have their ideas and that technical expertise shared and implemented into projects needs to have interpersonal skills, business acumen, and the ability to motivate and communicate effectively. Skill development is something which depends on the individual's wish as per the organization's standards. The best technical professionals make the jump to perceiving their role as a business partner to help the company achieve its long-term business goals.

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