How to use Expertship self-assessment to coach your technical team to develop their business skills

Written by Grant Heinrich 09 Nov 2021

Most organisations have a plan to develop their people leaders.

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

That gives your organisation has a clear path to coach leadership, the art of leading teams.

But it doesn’t help experts, who need to learn expertship, the art of driving projects, innovation and ideas to fruition.

At a senior level, this is effectively three sets of capabilities:

The Expertship model

  • In the relationship domain, the expert collaborates with stakeholders.

  • In the value domain, the expert drives change and creates value (and not just strictly commercial value. Non-profits and government view “value” quite differently).

  • In the technical domain, the expert leverages their expertise to solve business problems.

That diagram is the Expertship Model, a high-level summary of a capability framework to develop technical teams. And below is an example of a tool to let experts self-assess their expertship skills (subscribers can download a clean copy of both at the end of this article).

Edward's self-assessment

This diagram shows the self-assessment of a financial department expert, Edward (a real person we worked with in 2017). 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.

Why are self-assessments a useful management tool for leaders of technical teams?

The Expertship Model and its self-assessment tool provide two tools to facilitate concrete, actionable conversations with your individual experts.

A self-assessment asks a technical specialist to consider what “good” and “bad” execution look like for each capability.

Many experts have never performed this sort of exercise, particularly to review their broader business skills. And 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.

You also make change their project, not “yet another idea for management to be ignored”.

Register below to download a clean copy of the self-assessment table. (In Q1 2022, we’ll release an interactive version, and you’ll be notified.)

Use the assessment as a first step to start conversations with your team members about the skills they need to develop to progress. Then read on to discover tools that will help your team deepen their commercial acumen and influencing skills.

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