Thu, Apr 17, 2014

Managing People Older (And More Experienced) Than You

One of the fun side-effects of startup culture is that you can find yourself in the position to be in your twenties, the founder and CEO of your company and suddenly have to manage people twice your age (and experience). It certainly happened to me.

Fun stuff. And tricky.

On one hand you want and need to give these people direction (and they ask for it — there is a reason why you are CEO, right?); on the other hand their experience is often significantly deeper than yours.

Instead of either believing I can tell these people how to do their job (I can’t) or leave them completely to their own devices (they don’t want to) I tend to address the topic heads-on: Tell your employees that you won’t spell out for them how to do their job; they know better. Instead tell them what the proposed direction, vision and goal is (and ask them to challenge it; remember: they have deep expertise and experience) and trust that they know best how to get there.

Give people direction, make sure that they have the skills and tools to get the job done and then get out of their way.

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