Are you an expert?

During a recent briefing our Managing Director asked  “Are there any experts here?”, and was duly greeted by a wall of silence. The tumbleweeds rolling past held me back from raising my own hand, not one person was willing to claim that they are an expert.

What is an expert?

Baffled by the response I Googled ‘define expert’ and here are some of the characteristics mentioned; widely recognized as a reliable source of technique or skill, excellence, well distinguished, extensive knowledge, experience, and special knowledge of a subject beyond that of the average person.

talk to the experts

Photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/maile/

In order to determine if I qualify, I now have to ask what is expected of me, and what the average person has expected of them before I could label myself as an expert, then I’d have to check what quantifies recognition…is it a title, qualification, pay, an extra star on my McDonalds name badge? How wide is widely recognised, who judges this, who debates others claims to expertise and how do we deal with disputes when someone is questioned about their claim of excellence?

Ok, so I’m beginning to understand others unwillingness to provide self-recognition. Now my ponderings move onto why we were asked the question and what they thought of the empty response they got.

Embracing success

I spoke to our Managing Director Jim Scott and to start with there’s no doubt in his mind that there definitely is and was experts within the room, Jim felt that the reluctance to claim that you’re an expert is a very British one, we tend to not compliment ourselves and find it difficult in our culture to stand on top of rooftops and embrace our individual success’s. It may also be fear with the individual that if they claim to be the best, that they may be challenged and have to defend their claim of being an expert.

So why are we asking about experts? Well we’re currently working with 830,000 UK businesses; and we strive to be the software company that everyone recommends. People come to us because we’re the best at what we do, and we should pride ourselves in what we deliver and achieve. One way we can achieve this is to ensure we have experts in the roles required, or at least recognise those that meet the requirements.

Take two companies:

Company A) Full of experts, not afraid to call themselves the best, embracing their achievements and accomplishments, proud of their products and services.

Company B) Mediocre, happy at being average or the jack of all trades, happy to deliver a product or service and not that they delivered the best product or service.

Who would you rather work for, what company would you preference to do business or interact with, who’s software or services would you rather spend your money on?

Am I an expert? I would ordinarily say ‘I’m just a man’, however I am looking forward to either becoming one, or getting that extra star on my name badge to qualify me as one.

Steve Cartlidge – Customer Services TSL / Technical Author

Comments

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  • http://www.sage.co.uk Zoheb

    I think we all have atleast the potential to call ourselves experts but its often a matter of confidence. In the meeting that day I was one of many who probably was held back from raising my hand because no-one else was doing so. If we all start to build confidence and allow staff to tell their bosses what they want support with and not just be given what ‘the business’ thinks they are best to build on, then we will automatically gain a sense of involvement, belonging and pride to be an expert of our own making.

  • Ben D

    Steve,

    If modesty holds you back, i will happily state that you are an expert for our department, you have an incredibly focused approach to your job, your always looking for the best approach to a problem and everyone comes to you for advice.
    Although the third fact is kind of in your job spec..

  • Stephen

    Very insightful and from the point of view of someone embracing the expert role.

  • Asif Shaikh

    I think when customers call us experts that says it all, we just need to believe that ourselves. having confidence in our ability is key.

  • Naeem Azam

    Have the belief and you can be an expert!

  • Marcus T

    I think everybody is an expert at something. Whether you know what you are an expert in would depend on which area of the Johari Window is your expertise is currently sitting.

    Is is known to me but not others?
    is it know to others but not me?
    Is it know to me and others?
    Is it not known by me or others?

    Sometimes unless somebody points it out to you, you may never know what your field of expertise is.