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I am a M.A. in industrial/organizational psychology. Most of my experience has been in human resources and change management. My passion lies in employee assessment, organizational development and employee opinions. Website: www.IanMondrow.com LinkedIn Profile: http://linkd.in/drBYoC

Monday, July 5, 2010

Subject Matter Experts: HR's Best Resource

When developing any materials (i.e. job descriptions, performance appraisals, selection systems) related to a specific position, it is important to remember to utilize your company's subject matter experts (SMEs). Who is a SME? A SME is someone who has successfully completed a job or is involved in the job process. This can include employees, supervisors, customers or clients.

When using employees as subject matter experts, avoid only including employees that go above and beyond the job. It should include any individual that meets the level of acceptable. If only the high-performers are utilized then it risks the chance that current employees or job candidates may not be able to achieve the established levels of acceptance.

SMEs can be utilized in several capacities. They can be used in a focus group, surveys, or in one-on-one interviews. In my personal opinion, the focus groups are the most cost effective. First of all, it allows the SMEs to bounce ideas off one another and all SMEs are interviewed within one appointment. Focus groups do require specific considerations:
  1. Supervisors should not be included in focus groups with their subordinates. This can foster a climate with intimidation.
  2. A focus group should include a facilitator and a note taker. The facilitator should focus his/her full attention on speaking with the group.
  3. Emphasize and explain the confidentiality of focus.
  4. Encourage open communication and its benefits.
SMEs are often overlooked but they are a valuable tool when creating job specific information. No one understands the position better than the people who perform it. Why not utilize them?

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