Hiring direct reports who are smarter than you.

Jul 11 31 Comments

Unpopular but honest question for managers in tech:

1) What is your opinion with respect to hiring people who have better credentials than you?

2) How do you manage your direct reports so they don’t usurp or replace you?

Im trying to change my view that they are extra competition but I find myself hesitant to provide information since my seniority with the team might not the only thing giving me an edge right now.

For example new grads who have a ton of time and energy and have the latest technical foundations (such as heat transfer technicals or the latest programming language)

comments

Want to comment? LOG IN or SIGN UP
TOP 31 Comments
  • Cisco @G
    You should be more worried about retaining these people than competing with them.
    Jul 11 1
    • Microsoft antartica
      Excellent, on point response!
      Jul 11
  • Facebook public2
    Hiring a great team makes work easier and reflects well on the lead. I would only hire people smarter than me if possible.
    Jul 11 0
  • LinkedIn rudeagency
    I briefly managed someone who I would consider smarter than me and it was totally awesome. I learned a lot from him, we had lots of great chats, and I was able to advise his career trajectory to help him be really successful. The world is not a zero sum game, we can all be better together. I hope I can find someone smarter than me for my next hire. That would be great.

    I’ve also managed several people who had deep expertise in areas I’m lacking, which is also awesome. I love making my reports teach me things.
    Jul 11 2
    • Apple wassp
      What’s preventing them from taking ownership of your role though? At my company project leads and entry level managers are the same ICT.

      I understand where OPs coming from. I’m going on paternity leave and I just hired a new tech lead and afraid I just hired my replacement by the time I come back
      Jul 11
    • LinkedIn rudeagency
      I hope my top ICs grow to take my current role, so I can move up too.
      Jul 11
  • Oracle jplgrad
    Its good that you’re asking this question, OP, so that you don’t become a completely worthless piece of shit.

    You sound like a B-player, and a quick way to make yourself an A player is to start hiring people at the A level. If you can’t get over this fear, you’ll eventually become a C player and not meet the bar for Albertson’s.
    Jul 11 2
    • Apple Tim cock
      So he should start giving leetcode problems that he can't solve himself?
      Jul 11
    • Oracle jplgrad
      Why not? We also don’t know what role this dude is.
      Jul 11
  • VMware SweetPease
    A players hire A+ players. B players hire C players.
    Jul 11 0
  • Deloitte / Consultant Gfes23
    That mentality and culture is changing rapidly, especially in tech. Leaders wants smart and capable teams. Problem with smart direct reports is not intellect but attitude. Sometimes they know they’re better and they play games. In those instances, shut them down quick before it becomes toxic.
    Jul 11 1
    • ForRent / Eng HpDp30
      On point.
      Jul 12
  • Activision Blizzard 86753on
    I manage a team. I’m responsible for making things happen.

    If my team gets shit done, I look good.

    Why wouldn’t I want the best possible employees?
    Jul 11 0
  • Apple wassp
    Following
    Jul 11 1
    • M&T Bank / Eng hsywhrjfk
      Click the bookmark in the top right. Follows the post without threadcrapping.
      Jul 11
  • Lyft TEHm35
    Man if you are the kind of manager at Apple now then apples doomed . Apple used to pride itself on getting smart engineers- Steve was very particular about it , with all the A players hiring A players bit. Competent engineering managers don’t worry about smarter reports - it makes them look good in fact.
    Jul 11 2
    • Apple / Eng lmfaoapple
      Internally the culture here sucks dick I agree with that statement and the type of manager that OP is is the norm
      Jul 11
    • Lyft TEHm35
      Which org are you in at Apple ?
      Jul 11
  • Facebook vader92
    Yeah, most managers should be licking their lips at an opportunity to hire somebody extremely talented. You basically get rewarded for free, when you have quality people under you. Your teams are that much more likely to succeed.
    Jul 11 1
    • Deloitte / Consultant Gfes23
      Highly agree with you. When your team looks good, you look good. When you look good, your boss looks good. That’s a surefire way to move up the ranks.
      Jul 11
  • Uber / Eng HJWx12
    I won’t hire someone if they aren’t better than me in at least a few technical skills. Why would this be a concern? Managers need more than technical skills. Planning, scheduling, people managing, employee retention, leadership... if they are better than you at those, help them grow and try to get them a team in the future. If your priorities are technical skills then maybe try transferring to an IC role and improving those skills.
    Jul 11 0
  • Google / Eng swg
    I had a manager like this and he is chronically stressed because nobody under him is capable of solving pressing system wide issues
    Jul 11 2
    • New oeeL53
      Was this at google or somewhere else? I thought the SWEs at google would be really capable and the managers are generally hands off the tech stack
      Jul 11
    • Google / Eng swg
      It was at a startup
      Jul 11
  • SAP 7gsz90
    I keep thinking about the flip side of this... why on earth would you want a bunch of dummies working for you?? Come on.
    Jul 11 0
  • McAfee / Other
    mIrt65

    McAfee Other

    BIO
    20+ YOE as a sales engineer.
    mIrt65more
    If you are afraid of your direct reports being better than you, then you would be a terrible manager to work for. The worst kind, in fact.
    Jul 11 0
  • LinkedIn cd-
    Trust, but verify.

    You never hire just one of these people. You hire multiples of them so they verify amongst themselves.
    Jul 11 0
  • Oracle jplgrad
    Does anyone really believe that Zuckerberg is the best coder at Facebook? Genuinely wondering if people think that managers and directors and executives are progressively more skilled than their directs.
    Jul 11 0
  • Intel pyad78
    I’m very happy to hire smarter folks. Makes my job easier. The only people who are afraid of doing it have an inherent inferiority complex.
    Jul 11 0
  • Facebook ewQj67
    You should hire smarter capable people to your team. As a manager your priorities are people skills. Meaning making sure in upper management eyes, you are the reason they are successful. Your team gets promotion and you get a bigger one. If you fails to do this and your replaced by your subordinates, that just means you are not a manager material
    Jul 11 0
  • Tableau / Eng
    ZeroKooll

    Tableau Eng

    PRE
    Microsoft
    ZeroKoollmore
    2) make sure they are doing what they like, and that your job is only to make their life easier. If they are smart and technical, and have a good manager, they'll never want to leave the IC life
    Jul 11 0