Two psychologists, David Dunning and Justin Kruger observed that people that lack knowledge and experience tend to overestimate their abilities. By contrast those that have a good understanding of a concept tend to underestimate their knowledge in that area.
When you are coaching your firm's busy experts and trying to engage them in sales and marketing - it's important to remember that they exist somewhere on the Dunning-Kruger effect curve.
I'm going to take a quick look at the stages of this learning curve and show you how to identify someone at each stage, what to watch out for and how to coach them for best effect from the perspective of getting them writing content.
1. High confidence - low knowledge
This is the starting point for many experts. They'll jump into writing content boots and all without an understanding of what makes a good post.
Watch out for: When your experts are writing overly complicated, self promotional posts or aren't adding useful commentary around a topic.
Help these experts with: Straightforward, regular feedback on what customers want to hear from you.
2. Low confidence - growing knowledge
Once the experts realise that writing content isn't as simple as it seems, we tend to see a lot of them suffer from impostor syndrome. They feel as if they don't have a valuable opinion and stop engaging.
Watch out for: Long gaps between posts, lots of unfinished drafts.
Help these experts by: Providing them with an understanding that they are the expert and their opinion matters with a good approval process for content that adds confidence.
3. Growing confidence - growing knowledge
Experts that have a good experience writing content understand the benefits, know how to write content that resonates and have overcome their impostor syndrome. But they can still suffer from "falling off the wagon".
Watch out for: Unusually long spells between posts where they have previously been regular.
Help these experts by: Creating content triggers that build successful habits, regular feedback around the effects of content.
4. High confidence - high knowledge
These are your power writers, the ones that regularly turn in quality content and engage with the sales and marketing process. With these authors you can be developing best practice and starting to use content strategically to target and engage key clients and prospects.
In testing alternative explanations for the cognitive bias of illusory superiority, the study "Why the Unskilled are Unaware: Further Explorations of (Absent) Self-insight Among the Incompetent" (2008), reached the same conclusions as previous studies of the Dunning–Kruger effect: that, in contrast to high performers, "poor performers do not learn from feedback suggesting a need to improve". On average, men overestimate their abilities by 30% and women by 15%. Individuals of relatively high social class are more overconfident than lower-class individuals.