Sticky Scenarios: When a New Employee is More Experienced that the Boss

The New Employee is More Experienced than the Boss

  • Listen and Observe:  The person doing the hiring had a reason for bringing you into the organization in this position.  Before jumping to conclusions that the boss is incompetent and that you should have his/her job, observe and listen.  Find out what is going on within the company. Maybe the boss has other valuable skills and you can learn from each other.   Listen to what changes are being planned.  Maybe the plan is to train you up and then move you into the boss’ position when the boss is moved to a new challenge.  Maybe they are planning to get rid of the boss and the boss just doesn’t know it yet.  Maybe they are building new competencies in the team to adapt to business changes.   Maybe the boss is related to the founder of the company.   You don’t always know the whole story.  Listen and observe before you react.
  • Seek Input and Clarification:  If the issue is getting in the way of doing your job, ask the person who hired you for some insight into what is going on.  Ask why they selected you for the position.  Be tactful when asking questions and do not ever bad mouth your boss.
  • Respect and Support Your Boss:  For the time being, this is your boss.  Be respectful and professional in all your interactions.
  • Succeed in Your Assigned Job:  Instead of wasting energy worrying about the issue, focus on doing your assigned role and do it well.  Be a superstar.  Look for opportunities to take on additional projects.  Demonstrate your capabilities instead of just talking about them.

The New Employee Believes he/she is more experienced that the boss

  • Legend in their own mind:  Sometimes an employee will get all worked up thinking they are more experienced or smarter than the boss.  This over-confidence can definitely work against them in the workplace. 
  • Focus on Getting your job done:  Don’t talk about how talented and smart you are, show them.  Do your job and do it well.
  • Respect and Support Your Boss:  Always be respectful and professional in your interaction with your boss.  Remember, you may not really know what your boss’ responsibilities are and  how he/she is measured.  It is likely much broader in scope than your responsibilities
  • You were hired for your skill set and experience:  The company invested significant time and effort in the hiring process.  They hired you for this specific position.  Trust their judgment and let the situation play out.  Demonstrate your skills by performing your current job well.
  • Do Not Share Your Beliefs with Others:  Best to keep it to yourself if you are feeling smarter than the boss.  Sharing that opinion with co-workers can set you up for ridicule and more problems.  Do not add to the gossip mill.  Keep your opinions to yourself and do you job.  Don’t bad mouth your boss to others.

The Employee feels they should have been given the bosses position instead of hiring a new boss

  • Respect the Decision Makers – You applied for your boss’ position.  Maybe you even had an interview but they hired someone from outside.  It is their right to make a decision they feel best for the company.  They do not owe you that position regardless of how long you have been there or how well you have performed in your current job.
  • Seize the Learning Opportunity – Learn from this experience.  If the boss’ job is something you aspire to ask what you were lacking.  Learn what competencies they expect for this position and look for opportunities to gain the needed skills and experience.  If you truly want to advance, show them you are interested by working to gain the needed skills and experience.
  • Support Your New Boss – You will get much further in your career if you welcome the new boss and become a trusted advisor.  Help the new boss learn the ropes and meet the right people.  Be someone the boss will turn to with questions.  Demonstrate your knowledge and experience by helping bring the new boss up to speed.
  • Impress the New Boss – Deliver outstanding results in your current position to showcase your knowledge and experience.

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