I recently celebrated my first year as a manager. All of the five employees who report to me might look more qualified on paper than I do. Their backgrounds include advanced degrees in journalism, decades in the industry, management experience and several companies on their resumes.
I didn't finish college, I've worked in the industry for about eight years and my three years at The Penny Hoarder have been my first full-time job.
A key skill of successful founders and managers is knowing how to hire the right people, and that often means hiring people with more experience in some areas than you have. Here are some ways to manage them without being intimidated by that experience gap.
1. Remember why you're the leader -- don't forget to lead.
This is the simplest but easiest to forget. You're in this position because you're the best suited for it.
"Sometimes when founders feel insecure about their competence, they totally abdicate leadership to the newly hired expert," says Ray Li, CEO of clothing studio Sene. "But remember that they joined the company because they trust in you."
Remember your strengths and how they benefit your team and the company. Having confidence in yourself will help you be the leader your team needs.
2. Acknowledge their expertise.
The worst you can do in this position is attempt to belittle your more experienced employees. Instead, acknowledge their expertise and work experience. Let them know you recognize and respect the years they've put in. Give them opportunities to put it to use, for example through special trainings for the rest of the team.
3. Let their experience shine publicly.
Don't be tempted to overshadow your more experienced employees to protect your own authority. Let their best skills shine, even if it means revealing the experience they have that you don't.
I love showcasing the reporting skills on my team, which I don't possess. It balances out my digital media and content marketing experience, and lets other teams and clients see our varied strengths!
4. Admit what you don't know.
Two of my team members went to the University of Missouri's School of Journalism, top-ranking in the field. With no formal training or traditional newsroom experience, I count on their expertise in everything from AP style to ethical decision-making.
I'm the first to point out where I lack knowledge in the field. It helps us -- as a team -- avoid unnecessary blunders that could result from misplaced egotism in my leadership.
5. Respect their traditional knowledge.
One of my writers started working in newsrooms back when they looked like all the nostalgic movies I watch now: bustling rooms of men in loose ties and rolled sleeves, pounding on keyboards and cradling landline telephones on their shoulders.
It might sound outdated to my fellow millennials, but it's the history of our industry. When I want to get back to basics on things like sussing out sources, background checks or research -- gasp -- that doesn't involve the internet, I know he's the guy to talk to.
6. Understand the conventions they're familiar with.
Maybe your company is founded on an industry-disrupting idea. That's important. But a lot of what you need to run it relies on tried-and-true conventions. When you hire a bookkeeper or sales rep, for example, start by asking them how things are typically done in their field before working with them to change it up.
You don't always need a better mousetrap, so lean on your experts and know when to stick with what works.
7. Let them set expectations for their role.
"Have an open dialogue with your team when setting those benchmark goals," recommends Angelica Terrazas, CEO of ad agency Launch La.
If you're not a developer, don't attempt to plan a sprint on your own. If you're not a writer, don't set deadlines on your own. Let your employees explain reasonable expectations for their work and timelines.
8. Ask what they need to succeed.
A significant age difference could mean you don't understand what your employees need to balance life and work. Don't assume employees want to spend all their time at work just because you put in a snack counter and a ping pong table. They might need to leave at 4 p.m. to pick kids up from basketball practice.
"My goal is to really listen to people regardless of their age or experience," says Misha Kaura, the 26-year-old founder of holding company Darlinghurst Enterprises who manages eight women older than her. She began offering work-from-home options and built an on-site child-care facility after hearing from her employees about challenges with child care.
9. Be the big-picture person.
As a founder or team manager, you don't have to -- and you shouldn't -- be mired in day-to-day operations.
Mike Sims, CEO and founder of mobile app developer ThinkLions, reminds entrepreneurs, "It isn't your job to be the best at everything. It's your job to be the best at two things: seeing the bigger picture and knowing how to put the right pieces and people in place to reach that goal."