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UPDATE: when I wrote this, I had just joined. The problems I had were simply because the "impostors" (which, a year later, are indeed still impostors) are based in the HQ, and my line manager prioritised HQ relationships over my expertise. It was a harsh lesson, and I hope this helps others.

I joined a corporation as Subject Matter Expert (SME). My knowledge and expertise are far beyond anybody else in the company. However, in the last couple of years a few people "filled the gap" by gaining an interest in the field. These people are excited about what they are doing, but their work is out of scope and is not producing revenue. The company is just excited to say we have a "team of experts".

The difference is acknowledged by my manager. However, there is limited room to hire new headcounts, and I can't just bring in some good people. For the most part, I will have to work with the "impostors" we have.

My manager will be happy if I collaborate with the incumbents. From my perspective, accepting them is a big mistake, as they would have the "SME's seal of quality" and I would validate their existence, making it even harder to bring in good people afterwards.

My question is: to bring expertise in a new technological field in a company, should one join as senior manager, or is middle management still acceptable? I am trying to understand if the mistake I made was joining with a too junior position to bring the positive change that is needed for the business to flourish.

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  • 1
    what happened in your hiring interview? What are your duties? It is unclear what you are asking. Jul 24 '19 at 0:10
  • 4
    I get the annoyance at the OP's tone, but I do think he has a point. Say you are brought in as the company's electrician, and then 5 novices come along with a screwdriver and a smile... They are not "electricians", and the OP maybe does not have time to train them to be such. And there is every possibility they are doing more harm than good. Jul 24 '19 at 12:01
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to bring expertise in a new technological field in a company, should one join as senior manager, or is middle management still acceptable?

One can be in any level of seniority (Entry, Junior, Senior, C-suite) and be able to bring expertise to the company.

The difference is acknowledged by my manager. However, there is limited room to hire new headcounts, and I can't just bring in some good people. For the most part, I will have to work with the "impostors" we have.

Well, then you will have to work along with these ... "impostors" (not so professional word huh?)... and make sure they are up-to-speed to the level of expertise required for the projects.

If you feel they are not fit for the projects that are to come, I suggest you bring it up to your manager, and express that you feel that they don't have the necessary skills for the project. Of course, do it in a polite and professional way (without using words like impostors, etc.), unlike you did here.

If you approach your manager using those words, and still up in your high horse I doubt this will be a positive experience for you.

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  • She is aware of the situation, and she knows well that they are not the experts they claim to be. But for the sake of diplomacy, she wants everybody to happily work together. But it would just be easier to bring in qualified staff.
    – Monoandale
    Jul 24 '19 at 0:43
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    Then work happily with them and try to share your expertise on the matter. Of course they may not reach "your level" but you can surely make them improve to the point they become more effective and profitable for the company.
    – DarkCygnus
    Jul 24 '19 at 6:03
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Maybe stop downplaying and insulting your colleagues and instead embrace their interest and self-motivation to become experts. You weren't born with your current level of experience and knowledge and neither was anybody else. At some point in your career someone said "This kid has no experience but he's interested and enthusiastic. I'm going to give him a chance.". Do the same with your colleagues.

If everyone had the attitude toward people less experienced and knowledgeable that you seem to have then none of us would have jobs, yourself included, because nobody would have ever given us an opportunity.

Frankly, and not to put too fine a point on it, I find your attitude toward your colleagues a bit repugnant. I hope that my initial reaction is wrong and that you don't mean to be as condescending toward your colleague as your question would imply.

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  • So, if you are hiring Senior Developers it's OK to bring in junior developers, give them treatment and responsibilities of Senior Developers and let others fix their mistakes? Because this is not about "giving a chance", this is about unqualified staff which is working on meaningless tasks, and whose headcounts would be badly needed to bring in actual "Senior Developers".
    – Monoandale
    Jul 24 '19 at 0:44
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    @Monoandale if you want senior developers, but have junior developers, then yes, the thing to do is work with them and help them learn, not insult them.
    – Player One
    Jul 24 '19 at 1:22
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    @Monoandale in your question you stated that these people are incumbents and have moved into these positions due to their "gaining an interest". That's quite a bit different than what you're implying in your comment to my answer. Were these people hired as Senior Developers as you seem to be implying in your comment or are they incumbents who moved into these positions as you stated in your question?
    – joeqwerty
    Jul 24 '19 at 1:56
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My question is: to bring expertise in a new technological field in a company, should one join as senior manager, or is middle management still acceptable?

In this context your question is ambiguous, what company do you mean? Do you mean the company you are working for or changing jobs and working for a totally different one?

It's impossible for us to know what level of management you need to be at in your current company to make a decision on change and equally other companies with different management structures will probably have their own processes and policies on this.

Going by the derisory way you've described your colleagues, maybe it's your own self-important attitude has something to do with people not taking you seriously.

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