Asserting My Expertise

This week a few people asked for my advice and expertise regarding some projects. In one case, I told the individual that what they needed for their project was an in-person or screen-sharing consultation because it would involve visual, hands-on work. The individual got back to me with a quick response that they had a really busy schedule and that they’d be available by phone.

In this case, I wasn’t establishing boundaries for my own work-life balance or learning how to say ‘no’ to people asking for too much of my time. Instead, I offered more of my time and effort in the name of doing the project correctly: I was asserting that for this specific stage, the meeting had to be both auditory and visual with live editing (it is a visual project and in this case no one has impaired hearing or vision). This means we had to be in person or use online software to communicate effectively.

I have decided to call this principle “asserting my expertise” because in this case, someone with little understanding of the appropriate process for a specific type of project was trying to set the terms of the process. I needed to step in and assert my expertise. And, I did. I replied to the individual that I could not be involved in the project if the meeting were not on the terms necessary to complete the project successfully.

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Descriptors of Expertise

My mentor sent me an article from T+D called “Our Inexpert Judgment of Expertise” by Catherine Lombardozzi. There are 18 determinants of expertise, according to Lombardozzi: six are objective and twelve are subjective.

Objective:

  1. Has qualifications required
  2. Has education necessary
  3. Has been trained in his area of expertise
  4. Has knowledge about her field
  5. Has knowledge specific to his field
  6. Conducts research related to her field

Subjective:

  1. Is self-assured
  2. Is charismatic
  3. Has self-confidence
  4. Can deduce things easily from work-related situations
  5. Can assess whether a work-related situation is important
  6. Is intuitive in her job
  7. Is an expert who is outgoing
  8. Is capable of improving herself
  9. Is able to judge what things are important
  10. Has the drive to become what she is capable of becoming in her field
  11. Is ambitious about her work
  12. Can talk her way through any work-related situation

According to Lombardozzi it is not only important to have the expertise, but to project those subjective factors that underscore the perception of expertise. She notes that self-assured people may give the impression that they have more expertise than they do. This is important to consider “when making selection decisions or assessing performance.” I see this often in my field, that perceptions drive selection and assessment at times over the actual objective descriptors. It goes both ways. Some favor the outgoing individuals, whose confidence affects the perception, and some favor the quiet, introverted, even antisocial individuals, who seem even more like innovative geniuses because of the quiet lives they live.

The point is to be wise in our judgments of expertise. I think I have focused my vision for myself as a thought leader a little too much on the subjective side; I want to make sure I have all the objective descriptors.