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:
- Supervisors should not be included in focus groups with their subordinates. This can foster a climate with intimidation.
- A focus group should include a facilitator and a note taker. The facilitator should focus his/her full attention on speaking with the group.
- Emphasize and explain the confidentiality of focus.
- Encourage open communication and its benefits.