How Novices Contribute to a Team’s Success

Everyone on the team has experience leading, but one member doesn’t have technical knowledge. She was hired for character, attitude, and leadership skill. But she didn’t know anything about the technical aspects of the business. I’ve been working with the team about six months.

It’s takes courage to swim with three boys who know a lot about the business when you don’t.

During a recent team meeting, Mary mentioned her lack of knowledge. I said, “I hope – in the next few months – you stop bringing up your lack of technical knowledge.” That’s when the experts in the room chimed in.

Walking into an alligator's mouth.

Curiosity and bravery make inexperience an asset.

Our meetings include laughter and sometimes tough topics. When I challenged Mary, the boys said her lack of technical expertise is an asset.

Mary sees through a novice’s eyes. The boys said, “Her questions reveal that we aren’t as clear as we think. She sees gaps.”

When a technical novice works to find clarity, the team finds clarity.

Curiosity and bravery make inexperience an asset. When you courageously ask ‘dumb’ questions, the people in the room realize there’s another way to look at things.

Experience ‘knows’ and does the same thing over and over. But a kind, insightful, and courageous novice throws a wrench in established ways of thinking.

The desire to feel respected and contribute doesn’t always depend on competency.

Dumb questions are the bravest, smartest thing novices bring to the table.

*Mary isn’t her real name. She’s not a novice when it comes to leading.

How might teams maximize the value of novices on the team?

What concerns you about adding novices to a team?