How to Manage People Who Are Smarter Than You

How to Manage People Who Are Smarter Than YouAs the old saying goes, there will always be people who are richer, smarter, and wealthier than you. If you are a manager or executive in the healthcare industry, chances are that a number of the people working for you will fall into the smarter category.

In this case, smarter is in the sense of have more specialized knowledge, experience, and skills than you in an underlying aspect of providing healthcare. That shouldn’t be a surprise. A doctor, nurse, technician, pharmacist, or other person who has undergone extensive schooling and training had better hold a greater mastery of their responsibilities, or else there is something significantly wrong.

However, the imbalance of expertise can lead to problems. One is that the experts can act above the people they’re supposed to help. Another is that they can, intentionally or unintentionally, act as though supervisors and people tasked with running the organization aren’t qualified because they don’t know as much about the technical specifics of medicine as the specialist.

Those who work in management must learn how to motivate such people and manage their work, even though they cannot claim the same base of knowledge and skills. Between healthcare leadership consultant Dr. James Merlino of Press Garney and the Harvard Business Review, here are some steps you can take.

Remember why all of you are there

Healthcare organizations exist to help patients. That is the long and short of it. Everyone working at a care provider has to remember that, because without the patients there are no jobs and no business. Practically speaking, that means developing metrics to better understand patient experiences and to focus on improving relationships with patients.

Focus on relationships

The professional manager without a heavy practice experience in healthcare will always fall short when it comes to the factual foundations of providing care. Instead of trying to manage facts, build relationships with people. You don’t need to be the expert. You need to know how to work with people and motivate them to do what is necessary.

Be the generalist

Although you won’t be an expert in medicine, you don’t need to be. Managers are supposed to arrange for work to be done in a coordinated fashion, not to do all the jobs themselves. Think deeply about problems and how they affect the organization above and below you. Perspective provides a value and insight that experts won’t necessarily have.

Provide help, not answers

Except in unusual circumstances, you probably won’t provide the answers when there are questions. You don’t have the expertise. But you can consult with the proper experts and help them do the best they can.

Are you interested in finding a rewarding and lucrative healthcare career that fits your individual strengths and interests? Find out how education can help you adapt to the changing healthcare landscape. American Sentinel University is an innovative, accredited provider of nursing and healthcare management degrees, including an MBA Healthcare and MSN in Nursing Informatics.