top of page

Business needs 'Subject Matter Experts' SMEs - Tips to find yours

Updated: Jun 29, 2020

Subject Matter Experts are on-hand to extend learning and engagement = valued trusted employees, developing self help learning skills

In writing a recent article about ‘developing a Learning Culture through learning’ and uncovering your hidden talent. Thereupon a thought struck me. For a Corporate business, that problem is central to a much bigger issue. The reality is that talent should not be able to hide anywhere in your business.

New and modern approaches to learning means an organisation must be 'learner-centric' or 'employee-centric'. Let me expand on that notion – much has been written about the Millennial generation and their attitude, but what struck me is, I believe they are right – “it is all about me.” Not the institution.

In the world of work, we now live in, much has changed, our Baby Boomers now moving rapidly towards ‘Sunset Lodge…’ are familiar from their upbringing with jobs-for-life. Japan for example headed into major recession many years ago because much of their economy was based on ‘one life, one job’. When the world changed they were left with skills and no place to work.

Well that has all ended. Our new 'work ready teams' need to be multi-talented, need to have a highly flexible approach to accumulating new skills and be eminently job adaptable. Ready for future changes with multiple skills to place their hold on or demand for, the opportunity work life provided prior generations .

For a business to attract, retain and grow, within a fast-changing marketplace, one where it is not possible to define what skills may be needed, let alone what jobs will be available in 5 years’ time. Makes now the time to get on the band-wagon to become a ‘Learner and Employee centric’ business. The dividends will multiply with the right talent on-board.

“The new reality for future talent and the critical check-point is, the talented will be needed much more by your business, than, the talented need you.”

If you can adapt your thinking to that new reality, it changes your view on learning in your business, it leads I think, to avenues of ‘attract, retain and grow,’ the very best talent your business can acquire - the skills they arrived with, may be redundant in a couple of years.

The real consideration then, must be, their capacity to ‘fit-in’ with the culture of your business, to be demonstrably adaptable, and keen to learn at every opportunity. That path gives credence to our new employees and allows them to define in consultation with peers and business leadership, what future value they can bring.

Remember 70% of what is learned, is at work on the job (70:20:10). So social and collaboration learning with Managers, Co-workers and Peers is both an essential, and most valuable part of the learning journey.

If you’re planning on employing the best Talent you can, they will arrive and expect to receive very early-on in their employ, the best formal learning you can deliver – they want to do well, perform well, and be recognized for it. This is not an option it’s a given. Or the Exits will need swing doors. 

All this tells us something, we need to consider the way in which we deal with that learning opportunity, encourage and grow it. Add new skills, reward new achievements. Even if it did not have a manifest impact on this year’s sales results.

I can assure you it will have a major influence on the culture of the business, and the available potential talent pool ready to consider your business for their next career opportunity.

What this does tell us however is, those new hires won’t want to remain hidden in the business – they arrived with skills and talents, they will want those uploaded into the LMS and HR system and to be, visible, valued and recognized. They will expect the same for newly acquired skills. 

In fact these may become the treasured Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) all businesses need. They are a key part of the learning transfer, learning development, and learning ecosystems of the business.

Having these SMEs as 'go-to resources'. Engaged and supporting learning in discrete business areas, will be one of the key growth drivers within the business. Use Social and Collaboration learning tools to enable them to engage, teach and transfer skills to and from peers without L&D intervention.

These new employees of ‘whatever label is put on the generation’ from hereon, will be eminently flexible, talented, technology driven people, with adaptability as their catch-cry. Heed that requirement and expectation with Corporate learning agility. 

Much of my time is talking to business that reviewed their old LMS and saw what they would like to add, replace or update, only leads a move from one legacy LMS to another. This rear-view mirror approach, will not work for future needs of our learners.

This is a major part of the personal learning journey, and the record forms their 'Personal Learning Credentials' - make sure your next learning solution has the right tools.

Look forward and plan for future needs, how will you upload and recognize existing skills – make it a benefit to your employees. Three key steps:

  • How will you connect them to their Peers and Managers as Social connections allowing (encouraging) collaboration and sharing.

  • Recognize all internal learning, and all externally achieved learning

  • Adding new skills and courses, newly added skills from any external relevant source 

Attract the right talent, let them grow and develop new skills and capabilities within your business, you don't know when you may need your Subject Matter Experts SMEs. The fact is, they really do matter.

How will your learners be rewarded and recognized by those same Peers and Managers? 

Encourage this learning, reward and recognition as part of your company ethos, make it a part of what you do, and new learners will beat a path to your HR team.

For further information mail to

+61 (0)8 8311 3713

3 55 Gawler Place | Adelaide | South Australia | SA 5214

27 views0 comments
bottom of page