Managing more senior members in your team

Microsoft ghost
Jun 2 21 Comments

I’m sure this isn’t a unique situation, but it’s new to me. Have you ever had to manage someone in your team who is more senior, both in YoE and comp/level than you do, yet having to build the trust that this is a non-issue? Please share your experiences here, what works, what doesn’t, etc.


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TOP 21 Comments
  • Google / Eng
    ¯\_{ツ} _/¯

    Google Eng

    Did a startup, got acquired, did VC, now at Google and angel investing.
    ¯\_{ツ} _/¯more
    I can relate. What has really worked for me is to adopt a "service leadership" model, where I consider my role as lead to serve my team (not the other way around) and strive to give the team what they need to do their best work. With my senior folks, that usually means giving them autonomy, asking how I can support them best, and sharing the bigger picture so they know what direction to go in ("here's what leadership is asking for and why, here's my thoughts on how we can get there as a team - wdyt?"

    With that, no need to mind-read - start by asking your reports what they need to do their best work, how can you support them, and if there's anything you could try doing differently next week to make things run smoother. I've had a lot of success with that model.

    Good luck!
    Jun 2 4
    • Google / Eng uint64
      Google with the only respectful, non-snarky answer. Love our culture. OP's question wasn't even that terribly formulated!
      Jun 2
    • PayPal / Eng

      PayPal Eng

      Super cool. Do you have openings in your team by any chance? I’m already in team matching phase at google. :)
      Jun 2
    • Shapeways / Eng TAeI38
      I am getting more and more managerial responsibilities. Can you suggest where to get a mentor? Do you mentor people other than people at work? Are there volunteer programs to mentor?
      Jun 2
    • Abbott viscerally
      That’s a great answer, you’ve got a lucky team!
      Jun 4
  • GoDaddy Ofj47e
    Read three times. Still don't understand your question
    Jun 2 1
    • Amazon thx1137
      Can't read, don't understand the question.
      Jun 2
  • PayPal / Eng

    PayPal Eng

    Read twice but still don’t get the question.
    Jun 2 0
  • Amazon GreyGastby
    Don’t understand you question...
    Jun 2 0
  • Synopsys / R&D FrogWell
    I think OP means; managing someone with higher comp and/or more YoE
    Jun 2 2
    • Amazon / Eng Dr. 👩‍🦱
      I second this interpretation
      Jun 2
    • Microsoft ghost
      That’s what I meant.
      Jun 2
  • Hortonworks


    Trust is definitely an issue for those who can’t express their thoughts correctly over email.
    Jun 2 0
  • New / Eng
    Ama B.O

    New Eng

    Amazon, Google, Facebook
    Ama B.Omore
    Number one rule is learn how to phrase your sentences. Perhaps the members of your team can at least start understanding your questions.
    Jun 2 0
  • New / Design

    New Design

    Raizlabs, MullenLowe
    Yeah buddy. Everyone works with people who are more senior than they are. You could stand to learn something from them. Even if they’re fools. You can always learn what not to do.
    Jun 2 0
  • Microsoft nutszy
    Jun 2 0
  • Monster unholy!
    Don't manage them, respect them, give them the tools they need, and get out of their way.
    Jun 2 0
  • Charter / IT xlyq06
    I would work on communication first. That's a brutal question to read and my hangover now feels much worse
    Jun 2 0
  • Adobe cmRX07
    You sure you are communicating clearly with this senior person? communication is integral to good relationships and perhaps you are just lacking a bit of finesse in clarity of thought. It’s certainly not easy to communicate well
    Jun 2 0
  • Oracle OlJs40
    When I contracted at Fannie Mae 13 years ago the VP I reported to complained that I made more money than she did. So she made me share a cube. Literally a tiny cube with 2 people. She screamed a lot. I did not say anything. I would be fired. I also saved virtually everything I made and invested in and it has gone up. So she can bite me.

    I got a job offer at Verisign about 10 years ago. The VP told me I would be matrixed to him because he did not want my manager to know I made more money than he did. I did not atke the job. I got something else.

    At my last job directors used to tell me I made too much money which I took to mean I made more than them. I told one of them to work on his skills and some day he will make as much as me. He was pissed and complained. Had a 'talk' with my manager about being mean. Nothing happened to me.

    I work for a big shot M6 Director at Oracle. I don't make as much as him. He is cool. I like him accept when he tries to get me to work unpaid overtime (I am FTE, but I get time and a half over 40 hours... which is why I took the job).
    Jun 16 0
  • Microsoft doctorX
    OP is a ghost, he speak underworldlish
    Jun 2 0