Five Things Every First-Time Supervisor Should Know

How exciting! You’ve worked hard, and now you’re taking on your first supervisory position. You know you can handle it, but you also know things change once you become “the boss.” Feeling like you could use a little inside advice? These five tips will get you off to a solid start in your role as first-time supervisor.

Five Things Every First-Time Supervisor Should Know:

  1. Your relationships with co-workers will change.

This is especially true if you were promoted from within the team you’re now supervising. You should be friendly, but you can’t be everyone’s buddy. You’ll have to critique people’s performance. Sometimes you’ll have to correct them. And sometimes you’ll have to say “no.” It takes practice.

  1. It’s important to build up your people.

All too often, managers (especially first-time supervisors) fear their people will outshine them. This is silly and self-defeating. As a supervisor, you will only be successful if your team is successful. It’s up to you to discover what kinds of training and tools they need to excel at their jobs, and then do your utmost to provide those things. It’s an ongoing process.

One of the highest compliments you’ll ever receive is when one of your carefully nurtured team members is promoted herself within your company. Or moves on to a well-deserved position elsewhere.

  1. It’s equally important to build up yourself.

Continuous learning is as important for you as it is for each of your team members. As a supervisor, you now have new things to learn. Take advantage of professional development opportunities offered to you. One thing you’ll want to master is the art of running an effective meeting. You’ll be highly-prized if you know what you want to accomplish and can efficiently lead discussion toward that goal.

Invest in personal development, too, so you can uncover and strengthen your own personal leadership style. In your prior positions, job-specific knowledge was probably your biggest asset. Now, as a supervisor, your people skills will be at least as valuable.

Just as you provide feedback for your people, ask them how you’re doing as supervisor. And ask their opinions on operational questions, too. You don’t know everything. The more minds you put to work to brainstorm or solve a problem, the more likely you are to come up with a dynamite idea.

  1. You will need a break to maintain your balance.

It’s hard work being the boss. Longer hours. More details to worry about. Multiple personalities to juggle and coordinate. You’ll sink under the weight if you don’t make time to relax. Don’t develop bad habits such as eating at your desk. Get up and move around. Go outside to get fresh air and stretch your muscles. Your entire body needs nourishment.

Scheduling “you” time is one reason to make sure your team is functioning in top form. You can take a day off (or, yes, even a two-week vacation) with peace of mind, knowing your department is in good hands.

There’s one more critical element to maintaining your balance – the ability to vent in confidence. You’ll never be able to relax if you’re holding things inside, and any doctor will tell you stress damages your health, physically and mentally. But things have changed. You can’t just carp and whine at will to your co-workers, because you’re now their supervisor. Venting is not modeling leadership. On the other hand, it’s necessary. So find someone you trust implicitly to keep your comments to yourself.

Even better, look for a business mentor who will not only listen to you but who can provide safe advice when needed.

  1. Try to stay as positive and excited as you are right now.

It may feel difficult at first, but you’ll find your stride as a first-time supervisor. The key to success is to remain confident in your own abilities – after all, you were promoted because others have confidence in you – and to keep learning. That way, you’ll be ready to move up again, to your next supervisory position.

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