You should be continually outsmarted by the people you manage. If you’re not, you’ve hired the wrong people — or you’re just a bad manager.
The downside of hiring people more brilliant than you is they’ll be challenging to manage or argue with. The people you hire are the experts —
— so what’s the point of having them around if you’re not going to listen? But you still have a role as a manager and, very often, it is about more than just the facts of the case.
So how do I deal with this? Bullshitting.
I know this sounds awful… but it was the first step towards developing a pretty solid work skill. Let me set the scene:
You’ve got one team member who might argue a convincing case with a lot of factual information that’s pretty impossible to refute, but another member vehemently arguing against it. You then sense that perhaps the frustration is about a different topic altogether.
Your responsibility in these cases is not to have more facts, but look at how they are presented — and act on that.
I’ve been in discussions like these where the topic was way over my head, but I still managed to understand what the underlying message was — despite not having the technical expertise — and then develop a solution that made it seem like I knew what I was talking about.
That’s partly bluffing, part psychology, a pinch of experience, and some diplomacy — but mostly it’s about making use of context clues. The risk, however, is that you start believing your own bullshit and think you’re an expert on anything… and I unfortunately do think I’m an expert in pretty much anything. Which I’m