Objective   To provide in-depth knowledge on a particular subject.

Strengths

Dedicated to a specific interest or field, Specialists pride themselves on acquiring knowledge in their particular subject area, and offer rare skills which are often essential to the successful operation of the team.

Specialists love learning for its own sake, and their attention is focused on honing their knowledge and understanding, ensuring they are up-to-date with the latest developments in their field and maintaining high professional standards.

Specialists often enjoy talking about their subject with others, particularly those who share their interests. They are likely to be keen to attend training in their subject area, not just because of a sense of obligation, but out of love for their subject. For some Specialists, work is just like a hobby, because they derive such enjoyment from what they do.

Potential weaknesses

Because of their narrow focus, Specialists may struggle to take a broader view. Colleagues may find that they tend to focus on the technicalities of a new idea, before the wider issues and viability has been addressed.

Since they work in a particular area, Specialists may become isolated from others in the team, and may gain a distorted view of the team’s function or purpose, based on their own interests and priorities. An effective Co-ordinator can help make the most of the Specialist’s unique expertise, whilst situating this within the team’s wider goals.

Owing to the love of their subject, Specialists can find it difficult to judge how much detail or explanation is required. As a result, they may be over-informative when explaining an issue to the team, losing others’ interest and potentially causing unwelcome delay in meetings.

Non-negotiable weaknesses

Whilst Specialists contribute on a narrow front, they should not be permitted to ignore – or downplay the importance of – all factors outside their own area of expertise.

Team Role compatibility

Specialists are likely to work well for a Co-ordinator who can draw out – and show appreciation for – their contributions or for an

Implementer or Teamworker who values their specific knowledge and can help build it into the everyday running of the team. As managers, Specialists are likely to do best when managing other Specialists, since their expertise and experience is likely to be most valued by those who share their interests.

How to handle

Do...

Demonstrate that you value their contribution as a source of information. Involve them when undertaking research or study.

Don’t...

Neglect or underestimate their area of expertise. Don’t allow them to become too isolated from the team.

Optimum working environment

Specialists may need a quiet work space which allows them to focus on their subject in depth and without distraction. This said, they may benefit from working alongside others who share their interests and expertise.

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