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How To Manage People Who Are Smarter Than You

how to manage people

If you suddenly find yourself managing a team of bright individuals, don’t be intimidated. This is a great opportunity to push your management skills — and your team — to new levels of success. Sure, it may leave you wondering how to manage people who are smarter than you, but that’s where we come in.

In this article, the management experts at Sling give you seven tips to help you manage high-IQ (or high-skill) employees so you can get the most out of your team.

How To Manage People Who Are Smarter Than You

There are many ways to manage people who are smarter than you. But, by far, the key to it all is understanding your role on the team. That’s why the first step is essential for YOUR success.

1) Realize That Managing Is A Different Skill Set

Executives discussing how to manage people

When you fully understand that being a manager doesn’t mean you have to be the smartest person in the room, you’ll be on your way to managing more efficiently.

Consider the difference between a coach and the best basketball player on a team. Are the two positions interchangeable? Absolutely not. That should be fairly obvious. Skill in one area (such as intelligence) doesn’t always translate into skill in another area (such as management).

Each person has a role to play. Yours is to harness and guide the intelligence on your team to get the job done right.

2) Give Them More Control

Once you recognize your role on the team, you can then begin to manage better. One way to do that is to give the bright people (and indeed everyone) more control of their work life.

Start with giving them control over when they work by incorporating a cloud-based scheduling app into your workflow.

The Sling app, for example, helps you eliminate scheduling conflicts, prevent overlapping shifts, and avoid double-bookings. It also allows your employees to sign up for shifts so that they feel like they have more control over their work schedule.

3) Communicate Regularly

Employees working on how to manage people

It doesn’t matter if you manage a team remotely or in-person, regular communication is vital to their success. That communication is even more important if you’re managing a team of people who are smarter than you. Those individuals will make progress quickly, and you’ll need to stay on top of what’s going on.

Mobile digital communication (along with face-to-face communication) is the cornerstone of this endeavor. The best scheduling apps, like Sling, incorporate team communication features that allow you to:

  • Send messages to groups or individuals
  • Reach team members within user-defined groups, locations, or even positions
  • Share files, photos, videos, and links with everyone or just one person
  • Create your own social space where employees can interact

Those features make it easier to manage your whole team.

4) Define The Goal And Let Them Figure Out How To Achieve It

When considering how to manage people who are smarter than you, it often works best to simply give them a task and then let them figure out how best to achieve it.

Too much input can stifle the intelligence, creativity, and motivation you’re trying to promote. Instead, simply give them a goal (i.e., “This is what a successful project looks like.”), and then turn them loose.

The Sling suite of tools can help in this regard too. With the Sling Tasks feature, you can:

  • Assign jobs
  • Set due dates
  • Follow the progress of each task
  • Create to-do lists
  • Receive and send reminders as the due-date approaches

It’s a simple yet powerful way to manage the direction and activity of each and every member of your team.

5) Give Them What They Need To Succeed

Manager working

One of the best ways to manage people who are smarter than you is to give them the tools that make their job easier. Don’t assume that you know what those tools are. Ask them what they need to succeed. Really listen to their answers. And then do everything you can to give them what they want.

If your team has the tools they need, they won’t have to reinvent the wheel before they can turn their intellect toward completing the task at hand.

6) Allow Them To Take Risks

Smart, highly-skilled individuals want to push the limits. They want to see just how far their abilities will go. That’s why it’s so important to give them projects where they can stretch, and then allow them to take risks.

When you do this, they’ll either produce spectacular success (in which case, kudos!) or crushing failure. Even if they suffer failure over success, they, you, and the team as a whole can learn a great deal from the experience. That’s where the next tip comes into play.

7) Support Them If Things Go Wrong

Employee worried something went wrong

Game-changing success is not possible every single time. Projects will fall apart. Teams will fail to meet their goals. The risks you take and allow to happen will blow up in your face. It’s during those times that you should offer your full support to the team.

We can summarize this idea in three simple words: Have Their Back.

This means more than just encouraging them to do better next time. It means taking responsibility if the higher-ups begin pointing fingers. It means taking flak without pointing fingers.

That shows that you, the manager, understand that great success can’t be achieved without great risk. It also shows that you’re willing to take those risks, even if it means falling flat on your face.

Don’t Be Intimidated

When all is said and done, don’t be intimidated by employees who are smarter than you. Remember, intelligence is a skill, but it’s only one of many skills necessary for your team to be successful.

Think of intelligence as the engine in your car. Of course it’s vital for the operation of the vehicle. But you also need the other systems (like brakes and suspension and steering) as well.

That’s where your skill as a manager comes into play. It’s your job to make sure that all the components (all the skills on your team) are working at 100 percent toward a common goal.

It doesn’t matter if you’re not the smartest person in the room. If you can inspire your employees to work together to get the job done, your team will be successful.

For more free resources to help you manage your business better, organize and schedule your team, and track and calculate labor costs, visit GetSling.com today.

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