Tips for New Supervisors – of Peers

ByRita Sever

Tips for New Supervisors – of Peers

Congratulations!  You’re a new supervisor and now you supervise former peers.  Let’s look at some important tips for new supervisors to set the stage for success – for you and your new staff.

  1. Understand your role and responsibilities as a supervisor

Ask questions and listen deeply to understand what is expected of you.  Review your job description with your own supervisor and make sure you are clear about where your authority lies.  What can you do on your own and what must be approved?  Ask questions to discern the culture of supervisors from the management perspective.  What is expected of you and other new supervisors in this role?

2.  Meet 1:1 with each person and actively listen.

You may know your staff well, but you don’t know them as a supervisor.  Ask them questions and listen intently from your new vantage point.

  • What are they proud of in their work?
  • Any problems they’re having?
  • What they need/want to be successful?
  • Any specific requests of you as their supervisor.
  • Tell them how you see things being different now that you are a supervisor.
  • Explain how you see things not being different.
  • Always end with: Anything else?

3.  If someone was a candidate for the job: make a plan with your supervisor.

It is always awkward when new supervisors have to supervise someone who thought they should have gotten the job.  Make a plan with your supervisor for the three of your to meet.  Your supervisor can establish your authority in a clear, direct and professional manner that leave no room for second guessing the decision that make you supervisor.  This is not an adversarial meeting; the focus is on clarity.

4.  Hold a staff meeting and share your vision and priorities for the team.

After you’ve met with each staff member individually, bring the team together.  Discuss your vision for the team, how you see your role, what your style is and what you expect from your former peers.  Invite their questions and concerns.  Act with confidence but not bravado.  The position is yours.  Step into the role.

5.  Schedule regular meetings.

Determine how often you need to meet with each team member.  This might be weekly for new or struggling staff.  With other staff, it might be every other week.  With strongly confident and established staff, it might be monthly.  Get these meetings on the books for the next few months and prioritize them.  This is a critical practice of new supervisors, and seasoned ones as well.

6.  Practice giving feedback.

One of the most important tasks of supervisors is to let your staff know what is working and what is not working.  Acknowledge the successes and support the positive actions. Address any problems as they come up.  Give feedback in a neutral and clear manner.  This is information each person needs to be successful.

7. Treat everyone the same at work: friendly but not friends.

You may be friends with some of your former peers.  But now you have a different role and you need to understand the impact of your actions as a supervisor.  At work, you must treat everyone the same.  No favors for your friends.  No extra information for your friends.  No complaining to your friends.  No chatting about your a party you went to with some staff members.  At work, you are the supervisor.  Period.  Be friendly and supportive of everyone but do not show favorites.

8.  Act consistently.

Be fair.  Apply rules and procedures consistently.  Keep up with your meetings, both the one-on-ones and the team meetings.  Hold people accountable in the same manner.  If you say you’ll do something, make sure you do it.  If you make a mistake, admit it.

9. Get support from other supervisors and/or a mentor.

Find someone who has been a supervisor and ask them for help and support as you transition to this new role of being a supervisor.  This might be your own supervisor, a supervisor from another department or company or it might be a coach.  Find someone that you can ask for help and speak the true challenges you are facing.

10.  Act like you a member of the management team.

You are now a manager; you are one of many supervisors in the organization.  You are still on your own team but you are also on this new team of management.  Find out what the rules of this new team are and how they act together.  When you are called to deliver news or ask for information or apply a new policy, don’t set yourself up as a simple messenger.   Speak for yourself; don’t hid behind anyone by using words like “them” or “have to” or I wouldn’t.”  Own the change and speak it clearly.  You can still hear any concerns that might come your way but don’t set yourself up against management.  You are now one of them.

When you apply these tips, you will be a star among the new supervisors!

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