Creating an engaging online learning experience often means working with Subject Matter Experts of every level of enthusiasm and cooperation. Unfortunately, relationships between companies, e-learning course creators and SMEs can become contentious for a variety of reasons. How can you work harmoniously with Subject Matter Experts who don’t always have the time to collaborate?

Review What You Have 

From the moment you make contact with an SME, focus on starting out on the right foot. Many conflicts arise from trying to reduce what an expert has carefully prepared. Before you attempt to simplify points, read everything that the Subject Matter Expert gave you. Why did they write what they wrote? Do some points that seem unneeded early in the presentation later become essential? If possible, avoid asking SMEs to make PowerPoints or other lengthy presentations to present information. Could the content be presented in a quick video, a job aid or a whiteboarding explainer video?

Get Involved Early 

Get Subject Matter Experts involved in the course creation process early. Not sure where to start? Ask for guidance on these questions:

  • What will success look like?
  • What purpose does this course or project serve?
  • What knowledge, skills and attitudes do you want to change?
  • What would happen if the course was not created? How would a lack of training affect the company or client?
  • What change should be seen as a direct result of taking the course?
  • How can we quantify and measure whether or not that change has taken place?

Once your SME has helped to refine your objectives, get them involved to determine what tasks need to be completed to reach that goal. Your SME is there to help, so don’t be afraid to ask questions.

When working with the SME, be flexible and ready to offer examples of quality eLearning. If you have feedback to offer, always thoroughly explain it. Staying in regular, friendly and professional contact will improve your relationship and the project itself.

Ask for Help 

Subject Matter Experts can also help brainstorm which online activities can give learners the opportunity to practice the actions being taught, not merely recognizing facts. When you are in a difficult situation with your SME, giving them a chance to respond to your ideas before coming up with their own can be a good way to get things unstuck. Sketch out an activity and give the SME the chance to respond. If they don’t like it or have changes to suggest, that’s a good thing—it means that their wheels might be turning again!

Practice Active Listening 

Honing your active listening skills is essential to working harmoniously with SMEs and your other coworkers. What is the Subject Matter Expert really trying to tell you? Don’t focus on an imperfect delivery instead of the heart of the matter behind the words. Showing an interest in their work and input can propel your relationship forward and lead to a dynamic finished product.

Partner with Zenith Performance Solutions 

Zenith Performance Solutions wants to transform the way that you and your employees learn. We offer a comprehensive range of training course design services, including updating existing courses and consulting. We work with companies of every size to create innovative and instructionally sound materials that boost employee performance and satisfy your objectives. To learn more, please contact us by calling (970) 409-4013.