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How do you manage an employee who knows more than you?

Discussion in 'Business Management' started by Holysteel, Jul 27, 2012.

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  1. Holysteel

    Holysteel Member

    Jul 8, 2012
    Hello everybody. Good Day. Just a casual question.

    Question of the day: How do you manage a newly arrived employee who has more knowledge, skills & expertise than you as the owner in certain factors such as production,installation & overall operations.

    Do you,

    1) Swallow your pride. Engage him & ask him to share his expertise & experiences with the company, asking for his opinions & views on stuffs. Ask him to share information about his old employer, competitors, etc. His opinion on further improving the shop's sales. etc ?

    Downside: He will have no respect for you as the 'leader' & will think you as an idiot for 'consulting' his opinions. In the long run, he might ask for additional major increase of pay, because he thinks he is good, special & inexpendable asset to the shop.


    2) Firm up your image. Be that tough no nonsense boss. After all, you are the boss. Even though you know that he is more experienced than you. Delegate jobs to him in an indirect way. You get the results either way using this approach, without him knowing you are the amateur.

    Downside: I see no downside to this method at the moment currently. Might due to change after hearing you guys out.

    So which is the preferred? How do you guys handle this kind of scenario. Did it happen before with you? Please share your experiences. Remember, There is no right or wrong answer to this. Just let it flow.

  2. ChicagoGraphics

    ChicagoGraphics Major Contributor

    Feb 27, 2007
    I would just tell him to do what ever job you give him to do it is own way as long as it's done right in the end. This way he won't know that you know he knows more then you do.
  3. Fatboy

    Fatboy Very Active Member

    Just be the leader. Remember the General are not pulling the trigger.The private might be (and normally is) a better shot. This does not make the General a weaker soldier.You are the General....now go and manage your troops.
  4. Terremoto

    Terremoto Member

    Jun 28, 2007
    Pay him well and be thankful you have somebody on board that knows what they're doing.

  5. ProWraps

    ProWraps Very Active Member

    Sep 30, 2009
    San Francisco, CA
    act like every other boss on the face of the planet.

    tell him to go do the job you hired him to do...
  6. sfr table hockey

    sfr table hockey Very Active Member

    Jan 24, 2009
    Just quit bringing your kid to work.. and if thats not the case be thankful you found this person.

    Lots of work places have employees that can do their job better than the owner. This would be a great chance to further your skills and learn from this guy.

    When a person knows he is appreciated and likes the environment he works in he will be even happier to show you what he knows and if you are not trying to BS him I think he would respect you even more.

    Pay him his worth and as for you the owner, you don't have to do anything if you didn't want to, but looks a lot better on the other side of the fence when you are part of the team.

    I am the smartest one that works for me........unless my 9 year old asks to help out. There are also days that stupid shows up and I wonder how I can work with myself.
  7. CES020

    CES020 Very Active Member

    Oct 16, 2008
    I don't see the option I'd pick.

    #1 seems like you'll lose respect because you're asking him about old customers at his previous employer. He/She will think you're unethical and desperate.

    #2 seems like a poor choice. So what's going to happen, you'll be barking orders all the time and trying to distance yourself from the daily operations and tasks, so the work will get done, but 1 year from now, you'll be as ignorant about it all as you are now.

    How about #3, tell them you're glad they are there and you're excited to work with them to grow the business. Tell them you are interested in learning from them and you hope you have some knowledge that they can learn from you. Then ask questions and gain knowledge from them while they are there. If they leave, you will have learned something. Otherwise, they leave and you're in the same spot you are now.
  8. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

    Jun 7, 2006
    So, in this little scenario.... are you the owner or the employee ??

    If the person is an employee, it is understood they work at the pace expected. They use the vast knowledge they have to keep their job.

    No way should you ask about his old employer unless you know the guy and want to know how his health is doing. Otherwise, you're putting that employee on the spot. They're hired to work, not give in-side information, other than the obvious. If he doesn't have respect for you.... who cares ?? He's being paid to work and produce, not like you.

    Whether he knows you're an amateur of not has no bearing on his job description.

    Holyguy.... if you only surrounded yourself with weaker minded people, how long do you think you'll last doing it all ??

    You need good help and you need to pay them well and keep them busy.

    However, if you are indeed the weakest link, many times, people will move on if there's no challenge or motivation.

    If I worked somewhere and busted my chops to make money for the man.... he pretty well better appreciate me or I'm outta here.
  9. Holysteel

    Holysteel Member

    Jul 8, 2012
    Lol..I like the way you call me. The Holyguy..

    LOOL. Thanks for your insight. I appreciated it.
  10. Being on the flip slide of the scenario I work for a marketing director who does not like to admit his short comings of print industry knowledge and practices. I have offered to educate him about what I do by explaining the processes I use and it doesn't always go well. All hell broke loose when I explained that I rasterized (or roosterized as he calls it) some vector work.

    I've been told to operate in manners that are the exact opposite of what professional shops do. So I'm looking at doing things wrong and following direction or doing them right and not saying things and hoping I don't get caught.

    I've updated my resume and am selectively applying for new positions.

    If I were you I'd delegate work (assign it but not dictate how to execute) and if you want to learn ask the employee why he does what he does and get his opinion occasionally. If he decides to leave, you may come to realize you had the opportunity to learn a lot and didn't.

    I'm with Terremoto - pay for his knowledge and skill.
  11. the graphics co

    the graphics co Active Member

    Jun 26, 2008
    Gurnee, IL
    Be happy you have someone who is knowledgeable and able to possibly exceed the expectations you have when hiring someone new. Most of us are happy to be employed and I am sure your new hire is the same. Be respectful and clear on what is expected of their employment with you, while they may have more experience and knowledge, you are the one cutting the checks. Seems you are in a good situation, don't over think it.
  12. Jim Doggett

    Jim Doggett Very Active Member

    Feb 17, 2008
    Give him / her a raise and/or an equity position in the company. :)
  13. threeputt

    threeputt Very Active Member

    Mar 10, 2006
    washington state
    Duh! How long do you think you could work with such a person in a shop scenario before he or she knew exactly how much (or little) you know about day to day work?

    Pay that person real well, give them as much responsibility as they are equipped to handle and get out of the way.

    My god, it's every shop owner's dream to have employees that can work alone, capably, and efficiently.

    Do not ask him about shop procedures and the like from his former work. Those comments will come if he feels the need to express them.

    Mainly just provide the fertile ground in which he can drop his abilities and reap the rewards. Again, pay this guy well or you may be competing with him soon.
  14. Pat Whatley

    Pat Whatley Major Contributor

    Sep 29, 2003
    Wetumpka, AL
    ''If you ever find a man who is better than you are - hire him. If necessary, pay him more than you would pay yourself.''
    -- David Ogilvy,founding father of modern advertising
  15. Holysteel

    Holysteel Member

    Jul 8, 2012
    There is this friend of mine. He is also in the print trade & runs quite a well to do shop. He has been taking good care of all his staffs. Great pay & everything. There is this graphic designer of his, does quite excellent graphic.

    The thing is...He is too smart a staff till he start doing 'side jobs' & taking orders behind the boss's back. Getting paid full for his 'side jobs' while in the meantime getting paid monthly by my friend ! A double salaries job in one place !

    Problem is, if he were to confront this designer. No doubt he will leave & find another 'sucker' company to keep doing his 'thing'. Either way its a lose-lose situation for my friend, if he decides to hop other the competitors.

    Im not sure how he solved this problem. Didt catch up with him for ages..

    Any ways to thwart this from potential employee thinking to do this? In the meantime getting them to stay? Just in case..
  16. Jim Doggett

    Jim Doggett Very Active Member

    Feb 17, 2008
    If anyone has a mind to go into this business for themselves, cutters and now even printers are pretty attainable. My ilk abound. :)

    What's a heckuva lot harder to find, is an employee who can conduct your business as well or better than you do yourself.

    In fact, this person probably already knows they possess the skills and knowledge to go it alone. But something, obviously, appeals in having the security of a paycheck. And lucky you that some skilled person, and not a dweeb who needs constant supervision / correction, is getting the security of a paycheck from you and not your competition.

    Maybe I'm wrong in how I'm looking at it, since as in all things, it's how we pereceive them. But maybe not.

  17. Msrae

    Msrae Rae

    Mar 6, 2011

    ^ this
  18. bob

    bob Major Contributor

    Nov 4, 2005
    Did you hire him to manage your business or to do the work?

    If the latter, you manage the business and let him do the work. He's supposed to know more about it than you.

    If the former, why?

    You sound very much like someone who just naturally wants to micro manage everything around you. That's not management. Management is surrounding yourself with skilled people and letting them ply their trades.

    You're supposed to provide direction, not instruction.
  19. eahicks

    eahicks Magna Cum Laude - School of Hard Knocks

    Apr 17, 2012
    I am wondering...when you say the employee knows more than you....do you mean has more experience/years in the industry? Or know more than you regarding running a sign shop, managing other employees, etc. etc.?
    I have been in the business nearly twice as long as my employer....but would I say I know more than him? As a general statement, probably not. Not regarding running this business. Have I done a wider variety of signs and graphics than he is accustomed to? Possibly....but again, that doesn't mean I "know more than him".
    So your question is still a little vague in that respect, to me anyway.
  20. Holysteel

    Holysteel Member

    Jul 8, 2012
    Hi bob. No u are very wrong about me. I do not like to micro manage. I am more of a marco manage person. I like to be the 'visionary' more on steering the company to its intended path. More of an idea person. More of a mind person.

    I dun enjoy giving out instruction for every step every 5 mins either.
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