How can you help your technical team gain business skills?

Written by Grant Heinrich 09 Nov 2021

Most organisations have a plan to develop people leaders.

There’s a lot more to it than this, but at its simplest it will include a career ladder, a capability framework that details the skills needed to climb each rung of the ladder, and a schedule of appraisals to keep skills development on track.

The capability framework is the most foundational element. It is a clear roadmap for experts to enhance their expertship.

We’ve tried to keep this resource centre practical, so it includes a download of a capability framework built specifically for experts, The Expertship Model. This model describes the nine capabilities needed to become a “Master Expert”.

You can also download a (paper) self-assessment exercise, that enables your experts to audit their current skills and knowledge.

The self-assessment details the behaviour displayed at each level of skill for each capability in the Expertship Model. That allows team members to self-rate how far they believe they are along the journey to becoming a Master Expert.

The Model, and the self assessment provides you, as a leader of experts, two tools to facilitate concrete, actionable conversations with your individual experts about the skills they have today, and those they need to develop to achieve their aspirations of being a master Expert.

The team don’t need to know the Expertship Model in depth to use the self-rating form. But as their leader, and the person who needs to balance team skills against the work the team needs to achieve, it might be helpful to understand the three core domains of Expertship.

The Expertship model

What skills do technical specialists need?

Where an upcoming manager will want to learn leadership, the art of leading teams, experts need to learn the skills of expertship. That is, the art of driving projects, innovation and ideas to fruition.

The Expertship Model is a capability model that defines Expertship, starting with three domains a technical specialist needs to master:

  • The relationship domain. Here, the expert collaborates with stakeholders.

  • The value domain. Here, the expert drives change and creates either commercial or community value (or both).

  • The technical domain. This domain is not just about having strong technical expertise. In practice, it asks the expert to develop the capabilities that support the successful use of expertise to solve business problems.

Each of those domains is then broken into three capabilities, and this is the level at which self-assessment can begin.

Edward’s expertship

This diagram shows the self-assessment of a financial department expert, Edward. Looking across the rows, you can see that he rated himself at expert level across the technical domain, and expert in two capabilities in the relationship domain and one in the value domain.

Edward's self-assessment

Why is a self-assessment useful?

It shows the expert what “good” and “bad” execution looks like for each capability.

Many experts have never performed this sort of exercise, particularly to review their broader business skills. If you had not asked them to consider each skill in detail, they would probably assume they were “good enough” at everything.

Here, rather than you telling the expert which skills they are good or bad at, you are asking the expert to consider where they would place themselves.

That’s an effective start to coaching. It’s possible to ignore your manager; it’s harder to ignore yourself. When it’s the expert realising they have faults, it’s harder for them to not ask whether they should change.

Register below to download a clean copy of the self-assessment table. (In December, we’ll release an interactive version, and you’ll be notified.)

Use it to start conversations with your team members about the skills they need to develop to progress.

Download The Expertship Model Self-Assessment, instructions, and an extract of Chapter 1 of Master Expert