How to Manage Someone Smarter than You?18 Feb 2015

Any employer knows the little dilemma of wanting to hire the best and being terrified of having to manage someone a lot more skilled or intelligent than themselves.. it's tricky! If you don't understand their work nor some of the language they use – where do you get the authority to be the boss?

KanbanTool how to manage someone smarter than you

Provide guidance on what they do, not how they do it

This is a simple and logical advice. Rather than getting bogged down in the details, try establishing a route, on taking which you and your team member agree.

Show them respect

By focusing on listening to what they have to say, addressing their needs instead of just bossing them around, you stand a chance of creating a respectful, working relationship. This will also facilitate their growth.

Inspire and motivate

As a leader, your role is not showing the team how much smarter you are, it is aiding them by providing the most suitable means of motivation and individual inspiration.

Help out in any conflicts between the top thinkers

Use your objectivity and detachment from the core of the argument to mitigate the situation to reach a common, healthy solution or compromise

Ask insightful questions

In general, you don't want to know the details of how they're going to achieve something, all you need to know is what is their objective, the specific target and what is the result they're aiming to get.

Allow for senior oversight

Facilitating a connection between your top employee and a senior specialist of the same field, creates learning opportunities for your top workers and validates what they do with authoritative figures.

Cut the worst out of the picture

By asking your ultra smart employee to cooperate with weakest “chain-links” is demoralizing for both sides. It's preferable if you have a common working approach and skill among your team members. If you don't get rid of the under-performers, you'll most likely lose the creative and effective members.

Cut out distractions and obstacles

If the real value of an employee lies in his ability to do a lot and well, you may want to utilize this to the fullest. So, make sure your best worker doesn't need to spend hours in useless meetings, on writing dull reports or organizing things, which can be organized for him by someone else.

To sum up, when managing people smarter than you, not taking a bossy approach, treating them humane, allowing rest, growth and space to do their job seems to be the way to go.