You’re a Supervisor, Now What?

You’re a Supervisor, Now What?

What do you do when you are promoted to a supervisor but feel like you are in over your head? Like so many people who become supervisors I started out my career as an entry-level employee and worked my way up. When I was chosen to move up into a supervisory role I wasn’t the best candidate for the job.

So often supervisors aren’t chosen because they possess good people and management skills. They are chosen because they possess strong technical skills within their chosen field.

Just because somebody has shown an aptitude for a technical skill doesn’t mean that they will be good at managing the people in that technical area.

It also doesn’t mean that they can’t learn it just like they learned their technical skill. The problem is that most companies do not prepare these people for this new, and very different role.

So, what do you do when you find yourself promoted beyond your skill set?

One thing you can do is seek out others who have gone through the same transition and done it successfully to find out how they did it.

This blog is a good place to start. I have been there and I have succeeded despite my deficiencies in personnel management. Also, check out my post: Supervising – Just Relax for more tips for beginners.

Here is what I believe the keys are to make the transition from a line employee to a supervisor.

First, practice humility. Remember where you came from and what the struggle is of the people doing the work. Admit what you don’t know and be generous in giving credit to others.

Have respect for the people you lead. You once were where they are – empathize with them so that you can keep your connection in your new role.

Second, don’t think you know it all even if you do. Just because you can solve a problem doesn’t mean you need to. Assist your people when they need it but let them own the solution to a problem.

So many technical people make the mistake of thinking they need to solve every problem because they are the expert. If you come at every issue with all the answers you will get labeled as a know-it-all and will lose the respect of your people.

Third, realize you’re not part of the line employee group anymore. As soon as you move into a supervisory role you become part of management whether you like it or not. New supervisors often struggle with understanding how to deal with this new reality. They want to maintain their old relationships but they are a bridge between the front-line employees and management.

Embrace your new role. You can make a positive impact by bringing your experience from the floor to the management group. Use your experience and your new elevated role to be a positive change agent and bridge the gap between production and management.

Finally, seek out a mentor. Find somebody in your management group who has gone through what you have and done it successfully. Ask them to offer you advice and critique your progress.

It can be difficult asking others for help, especially to ask them to evaluate you. But the biggest growth you will have is when you get out of your comfort zone and seek growth.

Being a new supervisor is tough. It is difficult to transition from being a line employee to a management role. You will face pressures from management as well as the employees who used to be your peers who you are being asked to lead.

Approach your new role with humility. Coach your people instead of solving all their problems. Embrace your role as a change agent between the line employees and management. And seek out a mentor to help you make the transition successfully.

Remember that this isn’t easy, but it can be rewarding. Every career progression comes with a little discomfort. If you are willing to get out of your comfort zone, challenge yourself, and maintain your humility you will succeed.

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