Working With People Better Than You

February 4, 2009 · Posted in advice, work · 2 Comments 

Depending on who you are and what you do, you may find yourself working with people whose skills are superior to your own. For some of us, this happens more often than not. For others, this rarely happens, or at least they think it doesn’t.

If you don’t work with people who are better than you at something, then there’s a problem. The problem is you’re the best at what you do. If you don’t see the dilemma (and silly you), let me explain.

How We Improve

We all go to school to learn skills to do our jobs better. We attend conferences to learn what’s new in our industry of choice. And we sometimes take online college courses to stay fresh and relavent. But all these things are being taught to us by someone who is better at what we do, be it a college professor, a peer who has done more research in the area or a committee of people who have dedicated a large portion of time compiling the information you are now trying to absorb.

We are best at what we do the most. For some people, they’re good at watching TV (some of us can’t sit still that long). Others are good at playing video games, cooking, or sports. Hopefully we are all good at our jobs, since above all, we spend the majority of our waking hours doing just that.

So, if the majority of your time is spent at work, working with people who are uninspiring and not as talented as yourself, it might make you feel great that you’re the smartest person in the room, but honestly, how smart are you really compared to other companies? Some of us can claim to be the world leaders in our respective industries. Unfortunately however, most of us can’t and if we aren’t exposed to people who have different ways of working and who are better, we never learn anything new.

Be Humble and Learn Something

I have several developers that I work with. The first thing I do is admit that I don’t know everything and that their input is very important to me because of that. Complex databases are not my thing. I know a lot about them, but I work with people who know more about them. Sometimes you just need to shut up and listen, even if you think you’re right about something. You’ll learn that not only are you not always right, but that other people can be right too, and sometimes you can both be right; just with different solutions to the same problem. So surround yourself with smart friends and co-workers and just by hanging out with them you’ll pick up things you wouldn’t have otherwise. Don’t worry about being the small fish, revel in the wealth of information and inspiration that surrounds you.