John Drury; Consultant; InterAction Professional Services:
If you are like most ambitious people, you might feel like you can tackle any task by yourself, right? Think again.
A simple example:
I recently went out to the garage and pressed the garage door opener, expecting the door to slide up as it always does. It came up about a foot when the motor started making a horrible sound. I pressed the button again and the door slammed down with a boom. I tried again—same result. I started to look a little closer at the door—the cables on either side were just hanging loosely. I decided to pull the release cord from the door opener so I could just open it manually, but it wouldn’t budge. The large spring on top had busted in two (this spring provides all the tension, so the door opens easily).
I went inside to surf the web, thinking I would just order a new spring and replace it myself. The springs were relatively inexpensive, about 40 to 50 dollars. I then looked for a video of how to replace the spring. It dawned on me: although I could do it myself, I could lose a finger, eye, or worse, due to the tension in that large spring. I found a sticker on the wall by the opener button and decided to give them a call instead. Someone called me in 10 minutes and said they could be there in 45 minutes. They showed up on time and gave me a quote of 225 dollars. I thought, “Wow, that’s a lot of money!” but with 16 years of experience under his belt, he’s definitely the expert here so I decided to use his services. Wow, what a great decision! He advised me that the original spring was not large enough for the door and the original installers were just trying to save money. With the spring replaced, he then spent an hour adjusting, lubricating, and checking the door for proper operation. Ultimately, while I could have done the job myself, it was a great use of money and time to have the expert do it. Now I have the peace of mind that the door is going to last a very long time, work flawlessly, and is guaranteed for life.
If you own a business, you have a need for experts in your life. You hire accountants, lawyers, consultants, and bankers to help you with your business. Sometimes you get great advice and sometimes the advice you get hurts more than it helps.
Experts are faster at their work
When you hire a real expert, he or she isn’t a first-timer. In fact, you’ll find that he or she has likely performed the task well over 100 times. Experts are often a little older, might have personalities that support their expertise, and are very quick to answer your questions. Experts may also charge more money than others. When you hire an expert, you want fast results with no mistakes. Experts can produce these results for you, and they charge for what they’ve learned.
Non-experts sometimes come across as being experts
A novice might give you the impression that he or she is an expert at what you need. Likely this is someone with whom you’ve had a long relationship. While adequate for simple things that don’t have a lot of risk, if there is a lot of money or a lot of effort at stake, you need the best people. The new guy is often afraid of experts. Non-experts don’t want to lose you as a client. There is a belief among advisors that if their clients wander off the reservation and use experts, the generalist that works with you might lose you as a client. This worry provides a large amount of insecurity by many of the advisors you work with today, especially when an expert is brought into the mix.
Why use an expert
An expert is someone who has a prolonged or intense experience through practice and education in a particular field. An expert, more generally, is a person with extensive knowledge or ability based on research, experience, or occupation and in a particular area of study. Think about the last time you stepped on an airplane, buckled up your seatbelt and prepared for take-off. You had a high level of confidence that the pilot and crew would get you safely to your destination or you never would have boarded the plane. Surely the crew has received all of the necessary training to fly this plane, right? It’s also reasonable to assume that the “expert” flying this plane has an assessed degree of competency and has been approved for flight by a responsible organization that determines whether he’s capable of flying your aircraft. One would also expect that this pilot is frequently tested and assessed to make sure their skills are sharp, and they haven’t diminished over time. Bottom line you wouldn’t accept someone flying your plane that wasn’t fully qualified and certified.
A few years ago, when my boss was a traveling consultant, he boarded a flight from Cleveland to Raleigh Durham airport early in the morning. Shortly after take-off, sound asleep, he was quickly awakened by a loud boom. He looked out the window and saw a ball of fire fly by. Well as you can imagine my boss and the other 100+ people on that plane gasped in fright. About a minute went by (seemed like an eternity) then the captain came on the PA. As confident and calm as one could be he announced that we’ve lost engine number 1, but don’t worry we can fly this plane back to Cleveland with one engine. He turned the plane around and safely landed it, just as the captain promised. Believe it or not, my boss got on the next flight to Raleigh and made it safely to his destination.
An expert is someone whose learning and experience lets them understand a subject deeper than you or I do (assuming we're not an expert in that subject, too). As I sit here writing this I have to think: Who would have a problem with that? Doesn't everyone want their brain surgery done by an expert surgeon rather than the guy who fixes their brakes? On the other hand, doesn't everyone want their brakes fixed by an expert auto mechanic rather than a brain surgeon who has never fixed a flat? Why is it so many people value price over experience? Every day, all of us entrust our lives to experts from airline pilots to pharmacists. Yet, somehow, it has come to a point where so-called experts can put their ignorance on a subject of national importance on display for all to see — and then call it a virtue.
The next time you hire a new staff member who is the best person to onboard and train them? Sally - the person that is leaving the company, Bob - the office supply guy who knows a lot about computers, or a trained Subject Matter Expert that can quickly and efficiently get your new employee onboarded and proficient?
Wrap it up
When you begin to plan your next project, task or engagement think about partnering with an expert. InterAction Professional Services has the skills and knowledge that will drive the results you desire and engaging with an expert will reduce your stress level dramatically. Let them do what you don’t have time for and what they specialize in. You might spend a little extra money, but you will be glad you did and your manager, owner, etc. will thank you!
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