Jessica Powell, the former Google vice president who wrote The Big Disruption and told you how to quit your job, is here to answer your common but tricky work questions. Check back every other week for more management advice with a tech inflection.
I joined a startup because I thought I would be in a leadership position. But now it looks like they’re going to bring someone in above me. What do I do?
First of all, can we talk about what a (relatively) great problem this is to have? If you’re at the point where someone senior is coming in above you — a situation that’s often called “layering” — that means your startup hasn’t imploded in the first year, you’ve probably vested a bit, and you may be on your way to becoming our next tech overlord. Congrats!
But okay, I get it. Getting layered sucks, and it isn’t what you signed up for. For a certain amount of time, you ran the show and had access to all the important execs and felt like your contributions really mattered. And then suddenly your boss turns around and seems to be sending the exact opposite message — that you aren’t good enough at your job to maintain your place in the hierarchy, and that the company needs to level up as it gets bigger.
The healthiest way to think about getting layered is to not take it too personally.
The fact of the matter is there’s a reason you’re the VP of Growth at StartupToeWarmers.com — even though you’re only four years out of college and were a midlevel manager in your previous job at a larger company. You’ve traded career and financial security for (likely) a lower salary, more equity, and a bigger title with more responsibility. From the company’s perspective, you were the awesome employee it was able to hire at an affordable price. It was a good arrangement for both parties.
Before you jump on your desk and declare that you’re quitting, check your ego and ask yourself: Can I learn something from this new person who’s coming in to be…