Industry Reflection: Subject Matter Experts as Facilitators

Posted by Lauren Keen on December 30, 2015
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An established client and a recent prospect shared a similar problem with me. They felt that their existing training courses failed due to poor facilitation. The dilemma being: should we have Subject Matter Experts (SME’s) facilitate instructor-led training? The answer depends on the facilitator candidate.

Success relies largely on two factors:

1) He or she has to be outgoing. The training manager must judge the SME’s personality – they need not be an extrovert, however, they do need to be comfortable in front of a room full of people.

 2) He or she is consciously competent in their knowledge. The third stage in the Four Stages of Learning, a conscious competent knows what they know; they remember what it was like to learn something and are therefore able to relate it to trainers and trainees.

In short, personality and general facilitation skills are the first factors to look for in an effective facilitator. Subject matter knowledge is second.

Once you have uncovered this gem, remember you have some polishing to do. You still need to provide training to capitalize on learning technologies, principles of adult learning and instructional design, presentation skills, etc. After, the SME-turned-facilitator will require coaching and feedback to continue to grow their skills. A credible, competent facilitator makes all the difference.


Sources: (2014)  (Fall 2012)

Topics: Learning Development, Human Resources