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Expert or Wannabe – Is Your Culture in Trouble?

Preventing the dominoes from falling
Preventing the dominoes from falling

Expert or Wannabe – Is Your Culture in Trouble?

A “real expert” serves as a force multiplier to your company, allowing you to quickly identify and correct issues –and move your business towards a better future and a greater success.

Unfortunately, in today’s Internet world, the shallowness of the marketplace subject matter experts and apparent influencers is quite astonishing. It is like a “children’s pool of true intellect, understanding, experience, and credibility.” 10 years ago, what passes for an expert today, would have been called a “new hire or a beginner.”

The wave of self-proclaimed experts to emerge and attempt to influence the trajectory of the future is here now! As a business owner, executive or leader, it’s your main job to differentiate the real expert from the self-proclaimed before they infiltrate your company and send it down an undesirable road.

Before hiring new (candidates) team members, carefully consider the following vetting observations and discovery questions:

  1. Have you ever done the work as an apprentice or beginner? Can you prove it?
  2. Have you ever done the work as a journey person or team member?
  3. Have you ever done the work as a manager or leader?
  4. Can you prove anything based on fact, data, logic versus emotion, rhetoric, and assertions?
  5. What would 10 of your reputable clients or benefactors say about your deliverables?
  6. Is there a degree in your area of specialty, and do you have it?
  7. Is there a trade association certification in your area of specialty, and do you have it?
  8. Have you ever been featured in a credible 3rd-party publication or newswire about your specialty?
  9. Have you ever penned a White Paper on your specialty?
  10. If appropriate, have you ever authored a book that a credible and reputable publisher published?
  11. Have you ever designed, written, implemented, and taught an instruction course in which you are an expert?
  12. Do you hold a patent, trademark, or a copyright certificate on your body-of work, expertise, or deliverable?
  13. Are you the innovator of anything in your subject matter, or do you replicate others’ work?
  14. Have you ever spoken before a body of peer experts in your space?
  15. If I go to your website, will it prove that you are a professional?
  16. And above all, can you prove it?

Once new (candidates( team members have passed your first round of vetting, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and dig in deeper. It may seem excessive and time-consuming, but you’ll save yourself time, money,  frustration, and disappointment in the long run by plucking out the wannabes early on.

  1. Fact-check their resume. If the candidate does not have one, that may be a significant clue.
  2. Have they have harvested others’ credentials and body-of-work as their own?
  3. Check their online footprint. What social media accounts do they have, and what are they posting?  While you can always add more content to bury past trails, it’s challenging to make data disappear. If their employment changes with the seasons, you need evidence for why they are not a charlatan.
  4. Check their credentials and experiences cited and make sure the math adds up!
  5. Ask for several references. If they hesitate or can’t provide multiple references, consider this a warning flag.
  6. A self-proclaimed expert can’t sustain an ROI (Return On Investment). When asked about their past, they will be resistant to answering and deflect to other topics to avoid accountability.
  7. During the interview process, consider asking the candidate for copies of the past employer-employee performance reviews and discuss what they uncover.

Accountability matters, and how you create or deflect accountability is critical. When you are in the presence of a self-proclaimed expert, you will see a history of the following:

  1. Culture (generational, ethnicity, regional, diversity, etc.) is re-written to justify their outcome with no sense of personal ownership and personal responsibility.
  2. Values were abandoned.
  3. Deflection (deflect responsibility and blame someone else) away from themselves and the core matter by playing the blame game to make someone else the problem and positioning themselves as the victim.

The ramifications of a self-proclaimed expert on your business are devastating. Successful team members who want the best for an organization will not stick around when this type of environment is maintained, and your business as a whole will definitely suffer.

If you believe that you already have a self-proclaimed expert in your midst, provide them with a mentor. Engage a sage as a coach for daily or weekly check-ins and accountability growth opportunities. This will allow them to learn from a true subject matter expert who has spent years, if not decades, accumulating their expertise. Create peer groups comprised of people with a range of credentials that can serve as a 360° benchmark for excellence. Develop a balanced IQ and EQ with substantial readings and continuous mental DNA enrichments regularly. Then, when your previously self-proclaimed expert grows into an actual expert, explore opportunities for them to tithe to others with their knowledge. 

Just as complacency and mediocracy grow contempt –so too can success beget success.

Happy Sailing!