While traveling last month, I was fortunate to read the article “Why It’s Wise To Hire People Smarter Than You” by Evernote CEO Phil Libin in Inc. magazine. When I came across this article, I was struggling to unleash the potential of an employee and I was at a loss for what to do. I always hear “hire slow, fire fast” but in this case I held on out of uncertainty, fear and the thought that there was something more there. This article put everything into perspective for me.
Mr. Libin’s rule is this; “Everyone who reports to me has to be much better at doing his or her job than I could ever be”. His rationale is that if the employee is not as skilled as he, he will always be tempted to think I can do that better and in turn micromanage. No one likes a micromanager, and I detest being a micromanager. It holds people back, and honestly there is no time for micromanaging at a lean startup.
I took a step back and looked at our small, but growing team and make an incredibly difficult decision. That incredibly difficult decision turned out to be the right decision for both myself and my employee. She was frustrated by my micromanaging, and felt it was hurting her work quality. I had no choice but to micromanage because we have extremely high quality standards.
Working with a team that is better at their job than I could be is refreshing. Our strengths play well off of each other, allowing us to continually learn and grow together. Not having to micromanage means that I have more time on my hand, which is invaluable in a startup environment. I am glad that I came across this article now, and that I learned this lesson early on. Now I more fully understand why I should hire slow, and what I should be looking for when hiring.
To sum it up:
Hiring people smarter than yourself is the long-term answer to your micromanagement problem… This is hard to do, and we’re certainly not perfect at executing the rule all the time, but we come pretty close. – Phil Libin
featured image courtesy of MightyBoyBrian