You are very good at what you do! Congratulations!
But is there, perhaps, such a thing as “being too good?”
Here are seven “warning signs” that you may have fallen into what a Harvard Business Review article* author calls the “Expertise Trap”:
1. You’re unfamiliar with new technologies/approaches in your industry
2. You often use the phrase “That’s how we have always done it.”
3. You overly focus on risks vs opportunities
4. You discover other employees working together in different ways (e.g., Slack, texting, mobile vs desktop) than you do?
5. You keep proposing the same old strategies and tactics to address new challenges.
6. You try to make old solutions ever more precise rather than pioneering entirely new ones.
7. Millennials leave your team faster than others
Hmmmm. How did you do? If you are concerned that you may be falling into this trap, then here are the suggestions from the author on what to do about it:
*Challenge Your Own Expertise. When you know you are an “expert” this can lead to overconfidence. Remind yourself that everyone has limitations. Check Your Ego – if you have a lot of status then you may need to try grounding yourself a bit. This is hard if you are used to receiving a lot of accolades. Methodically Revisit Your Assumptions – write out your assumptions as you approach a challenge and review them carefully. Ask others for feedback.
*Seek Out Fresh Ideas. Identify new perspectives. Look to Teammates as Teachers – find some of the younger high performers and invite them to ideation sessions on challenges you are facing. Consider their new perspectives. Tap New Sources of Talent – make sure that you are not hiring people with the same background as you always have. When you go to conferences, seek out people you think will have different perspectives than you.
*Embrace Experimentalism. Get out of your comfort zone. Create Challenges for Yourself – take on a project where you are unsure of the answers so that you are forced to try new things. Learn from Mistakes – that’s what they are for. Acknowledge these with your team.
The more successful we become, the more adverse we can become to risk. Use these techniques to break out of the mindset that has served you well so that you do not fall into the “expertise trap.”
Finkelstein, S. “Don’t Be Blinded By Your Own Expertise,” Harvard Business Review, May – June 2019, pp. 153-158.