How to Engage with SMEs to Deliver Targeted Training and Results

One of my most recent experiences has been working with a smaller organization that doesn’t have its own L&D department. So, how does this affect the creation of a High Performance Learning Journey? Collaborating with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) is crucial to designing a training initiative that adds value to the organization, especially under these circumstances. SMEs are vital for company-specific content, from procedures to best practices. Yet, many aren’t versed in translating their expertise into L&D materials. By merging their deep knowledge with educational design expertise, we can craft impactful learning experiences.

Engage SMEs early in the program’s planning and roadmap creation. This secures stakeholder buy-in and highlights the time commitment from SMEs. Given their primary roles, coordinate their participation and schedule reviews in advance. Securing stakeholder involvement is crucial. There will undoubtedly be barriers along the way that make it challenging for the SME to prioritize this training program. Having stakeholders understand and buy into the importance of the program can help mitigate these barriers, ensuring that the SME has the time and resources needed.

🎯 Before starting, ensure both of you understand the learning objectives, application on the job, and the performance outcomes. What do the learners need to know or do by the end of the training, and what results should we expect?

🔄 Establish regular check-ins and updates. This ensures that the project stays on track and any issues or misunderstandings are addressed promptly.

⏰ Set clear deadlines for deliverables. This aids in managing the project timeline and ensures that both parties have aligned expectations.

❓Ask targeted questions to extract vital information, then refine it for training. Their review ensures the material’s quality post-pedagogical adjustments.

🔧 SMEs are not only invaluable for their expertise but also offer significant insights into the workflow. This understanding is essential to adjust the learning design to fit the organization and the target group’s daily tasks.

🙏Remember to give a heartfelt thank you and acknowledgement to the SMEs for their invaluable input. Their dedication and expertise is foundational to effective training.

📈 Throughout the program’s launch and execution, maintain SME engagement. Their insights validate participant feedback and ensure accurate, result-driven adjustments.

These are some of my reflections after this recent program. I recognize there’s a wealth of best practices out there regarding collaboration with SMEs. I hope you find some of these insights useful.