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Can there be any kind of negative implications if I am the manager (formerly the employee with most experience on the product, but also the most senior in the company within the team), but over time I allow my team to grow so fast and with so much knowledge and experience that all of them have their specialities in which they are much better than I?

What I mean by negative implications includes:

  • My reputation within the company

  • My ability to advance in further ranks within the company

The main reason I ask this is that I simply have no more time to train myself and work on improving my own skills and knowledge in the area. I am virtually full time focused on more higher level issues rather than learning technical updates.

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3 Answers

No, it is far from bad. In fact, as a manager it is your job to encourage your team to develop both as individuals and as members of the team. Your performance will be judged on your management skills now rather than your technical knowledge.

You should still find time to keep your knowledge as up to date as you can, but you should expect some members of your team to have a deeper, more specialised knowledge of their areas of responsibility than you have.

It is normal for new managers to worry about this kind of thing, but you have different responsibilities now and you will be measured against a different yard stick.

Your reputation in the company and your chances of further promotion will now depend on how you manage your team and on their performance under your guidance.

In my experience only inept, paranoid managers worry about members of their team developing more knowledge than them. I have worked for a few people like that and never enjoyed the experience. On the other hand, managers who acknowledged my strengths and asked my opinion/advice on matters I had knowledge in were a delight to work for. As a result I worked harder, learned more and was happier in my work.

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If any member of your team didn’t grow professionally, that would be a bad sign for your management style and skills. If anything, push them to learn!

The main reason I ask this is that I simply have no more time to train myself and work on improving my own skills and knowledge in the area. I am virtually full time focused on more higher level issues rather than learning technical updates.

Why would you learn technical updates? You have such an amazing wide field to learn on how to be a good manager, that can easily fill a life time.

Is it still part of your job to perform the technical tasks? If yes, you are in a very uncomfortable in-between place, not really management – in a good organisation, you are only ever doing one of these jobs at a time. If not, why would you worry about training yourself there?

You need enough expertise to judge the results of your people so you can appraise who needs help (not from you, but from more experienced peers) and who can mentor them – and then you can do management’s primary job, namely removing all the obstacles that stop your people from doing theirs.

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Especially in smaller companies, it is quite normal for someone to mix management/project leader roles with technical work. Also, many senior engineer roles include some management. –  Paul Hiemstra Feb 22 at 11:31
    
@Paulhiemstra Sure, but the question sounds like there is more than one level of management. I did think about the small ten-people company and if what I wrote was fair to them – I think it is, but I fully agree that some people may need to mix between two or more different jobs. I just think they should try and keep them separated mentally. –  Christopher Creutzig Feb 22 at 14:44
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Management is all about coordinating and motivating a group of people. A managers job isn't to know all the ins and outs of the field they are in. That is why you have technical experts whose job it is to know the technology. Trust them; if for some reason you can't then you need to find the people you can.

Your job is all about making sure that your people have the right overall direction and everything necessary so they can do their job. In other words, you tell them where to go and make sure nothing is going to stand in their way. This means listening to them, taking care of any issues that crop up and possibly even changing direction if it's necessary.

Your performance is now based on how well the team performs. If the team is successful, it looks good on you. If the team is struggling then this looks bad and you need to fix that. As a manager the fixes are rarely technical ones and almost always due to personalities and/or environment: which you now have control over.

So, let go of trying to stay on top with the latest/greatest tech items; that's what your people are for.

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I assume you meant “as a manager, the fixes are rarely technical ones”? –  Christopher Creutzig Feb 23 at 12:15
    
@ChristopherCreutzig: yep. corrected. –  Chris Lively Feb 23 at 15:53
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