Who moved the expert?

Who moved the expert?
Photo by Eric Ziegler
You are the manager of a team. Your team is good at what they do but you believe they could do even more. They are just not clicking and getting as much as you would have expected. As you review how the team is doing you also notice that some of the employees on the team are not learning the material / topic / technology / etc. as well as they could. If you were to characterize the team, you could almost say that they have stagnated their knowledge grows slowly, and they appear to just walking aimlessly through each work week.

As you start to observe the team closer, you realize that one person is viewed as "The Expert" on the team and everyone on the team goes to this one person for support and direction. While this does not happen in every situation, it happens in so many situations that you realize that "The Expert" is considered by the team as indispensable. "The Expert" is invaluable and the team raves about the person. The Expert is the go to person and answers all questions, helping the team get to a solution quicker.

But how invaluable is "The Expert" really? How indispensable is "The Expert" really?

If you remove "The Expert" from team, what happens? Do new people step up and become an expert? What are the short and long term implications to doing something like this? Short term things slow down, no doubt. But long term, do people start to step up, do they start to lead and does the expertise that was with one person start to be dispersed into the team? Does the team get smarter and the team starts to click like a well oiled machine, getting more done than when "The Expert" was part of the team?

Is removing the expert from a team a risk? Absolutely. But, remember, it is a risk to not make a change also. The risk is that the team is not growing, learning, and being as effective as they could be as a team.