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How to Work with an ‘SEO Guru’ Who Isn’t a Team Player

Are you a manager working with an "SEO guru" who doesn't get along with others? Here are some tips to help you take control of the situation.

How to Work with an 'SEO Guru' That Isn't a Team Player

This week’s Ask an SEO question comes from Tim in Scottsdale. He asks:

“How do you work with “Roadshow SEO” gurus? I have a “famous” SEO in my office but he is aloof and so removed from our team that it is scary. I want to learn from him but it’s clear that he is checked out and doesn’t “work well with others”.”

Hi Tim,

Great to meet you and awesome question!

I’m pasting the last sentence of this article here because it is the most important one in the response.

“Your team is more important than one individual, keep the team happy and replace the problem so you can grow your company.”

The best way to answer this is in three parts:

  • You are running a company. This is on you, not the “SEO guru.”
  • He is in-house and not a contractor.
  • Find someone else or move him to a contractor.

You Are Running a Company or a Team

I’m going to guess this person was a consultant who went in-house.

A lot of times it is hard for consultants to make the change from working in a silo and keeping knowledge to themselves to having to share.

As a consultant, your knowledge is your money.

But in-house, you’re being paid for that knowledge, not just for doing the work.

That goes to the main issue.

You as a manager or company owner need to take responsibility for your team.

You hired this person to work for your company and be on a team.

You are paying him to do a job and it is your job to help him adjust to being a team player.

It is now his job to share his knowledge and work with the other people which likely includes training them.

If he is not doing that, then you as the manager need to step up and resolve the problem.

You can:

  • Offer a team-building workshop.
  • Put him on probation and give him the opportunity to do what is required for the job.
  • Fire him.

This is your responsibility as the manager or company owner.

There is a ton of talent out there, you will find someone different.

It might just take some extra time.

He Is In-House & Not a Contractor

The most important thing above is that he is in-house.

He is being paid to do SEO.

If it is in his job description to work on a team, then encourage him to do his job or fire him.

You can also contact your HR department or an HR consultant and see what is legally required in your state and federally to change his job description.

Now it is up to him to continue with the job and work on the team.

And again, you are the manager or owner of the company.

It is your job to make sure the team is functional and that you help him adjust from contractor to employee.

It is not easy for either of you!

Find Someone Else or Move Him to Being a Contractor

One of the most important things to think about is if he is an asset to the team.

It is very rare that someone has unique enough skills that they cannot be replaced.

If your team is talented enough to do the job without him, and he is causing them frustrations, then save the team that is doing their job by removing him.

Certain things are hard to replace (e.g., a creative who comes up with amazing backlink strategies and creates really creative content).

Few people have unique skills like this and because it is their minds vs. a learned skill, these people aren’t easily replaceable.

But they are replaceable.

I have one of those skills, which is proper attribution testing including adware, coupon sites, and affiliate marketing.

I have yet to meet someone who does this properly, but I have trained a few people so there are some others with this out there.

They are highly in demand.

But with SEO, it is the creatives who are hardest to replace (aside from the creative who can also do tech and PR).

If this person happens to be irreplaceable, consider moving him to a contracting role.

In the contracting role, his knowledge is his intellectual property and he doesn’t have to share.

If he is not performing once he is back in his silo, you can likely eliminate the contract more easily than firing him as an employee.

If he doesn’t want to share knowledge, then as a consultant he doesn’t have to. But he also doesn’t have the benefits of being in-house like insurance, retirement plans, etc.

When the two of you meet, it is important to set the ground rules on moving forward.

If going down the consultant road is better, you may want to also ask about training hours or a full-day workshop.

It sounds like having your team trained is a big part of your plans, and this will solve the missing link.

Your consultant will be getting paid to do work and also getting paid to do training.

Now your team will learn, you still gain access to his skill sets and he can do his actual work in his silo.

There is also a chance that he’ll end up bonding with your team members and begin to share knowledge naturally.

I’ve had that happen when I was hired for contracting work and for training by the same company.

This answer may not be what you were hoping to hear, but this likely isn’t an SEO issue.

It sounds like a management and business issue and one that you personally need to take control of.

Your team is more important than one individual, keep the team happy and replace the problem so you can grow your company.

I hope this helps and thank you again for submitting your question.

More Resources:

Category Ask an SEO
VIP CONTRIBUTOR Adam Riemer President at Adam Riemer Marketing

Adam Riemer is an award winning digital marketing strategist, keynote speaker, affiliate manager, and growth consultant with more than 20+ ...

How to Work with an ‘SEO Guru’ Who Isn’t a Team Player

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