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Tips for the First-time Supervisor

Tags:  Career advice, Management

A lot of employees go into corporate America with the idea that they want to move up the career ladder, get into a management position and lead others. However, few are truly equipped to make the transition.


It's not necessarily that they are bad employees; it's just that they are bad leaders. They have not been properly screened or appropriately trained to move into a position with this kind of responsibility. And many times they have been promoted for the wrong reason – like seniority – then dumped into the position without benefit of guidance.


Before you jump into a leadership role with both feet, make sure you know what you are getting into and prepare yourself in advance by reviewing these five tips on how to handle a first-time supervisory role.


Get the Training You Need


Before you ever take on a leader role, make sure you know what you are getting into. Understand your supervisor's expectations and the objectives and responsibilities of the job. Seek out management training whether that means taking a class at a local school or an internal training program. Know who you can go to get further guidance – your boss, a new peer, human resources.


Don't Be Afraid of Change


One of the most difficult things to do is to move into a position formerly filled by a well-liked supervisor. Even so, don't try to be your predecessor. Be yourself.


If you try to be what you're not or duplicate what the previous supervisor did, you will run into trouble. You need to find your comfort zone and operate from there. Besides it just may well be that your predecessor was well liked because she didn't rock a boat that needed a bit of a push.


That doesn't mean you should jump in and immediately start switching things around; however, you do need to review the current operating processes and procedures and determine if they are still viable.


Take Your Time


While there may be pressure on you to get up to speed rapidly, don't let it get to you. Get your footing and reassure everyone that there will be no changes until you have a better understanding of what is needed.


On the other hand, don't slack off. While you are becoming comfortable with your new role, make sure you are continuing to learn and gather information so you can make the right informed decision when the right time comes.


Be Accessible


One of the best ways to acclimate to your new role and learn more about the environment and your staff is to make sure you are visible and accessible. Get to know your team, how they function and think, and what their strengths and weaknesses are.


You cannot sail this ship alone. You are not the king of your castle. This is a team. While you are busy establishing your authority, be sure you are also learning about your staff by encouraging them to rely on you.


Ask Questions


Be aware at all times. Watch and observe, ask questions, listen carefully, filter the information you receive and seek feedback and input. Keep the lines of communication open at all times between you and your staff and you and your boss.


Be Consistent


One of the most important aspects of being a good supervisor is being fair and consistent in how you deal with your staff. Learn who they are and what they want. Help them to work together as a team, to rely on each other and work out their own problems. Provide as much guidance as possible and as much discipline as necessary. Always wield an even hand.


If anything you do smacks of favoritism, you will lose their trust. Keep enough of a distance so that you can keep an open mind.


Becoming a first time supervisor can be rewarding and tough. As long as you treat others the way you would want to be treated, you should do well.


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