There are at least twenty-four reasons why an employee might be unsuccessful when transitioning into a supervisory position.
These include when the new supervisor is:
1. Unwilling or unable to supervise former co-workers.
2. Uncomfortable evaluating employees’ performance.
3. Unable to let go of former responsibilities.
4. Afraid to delegate for fear of seeming incapable of doing the tasks.
5. Unclear about the role of supervisor.
6. Faced with employees who resist the new supervisor’s authority.
7. Unwilling to fire an employee.
8. Unable to prioritize and manage his or her time.
9. Unwilling to ask for help for fear of seeming unqualified for the position.
10. Spending too much time solving employee’s problems instead of teaching them how to solve them.
11. Unaware how to supervise without either micromanaging or abandoning employees.
12. Unwilling to have critical conversations with poor performers.
13. Trying to be a friend rather than a supervisor.
14. Uncomfortable having to side with management despite sympathy for the employees’ viewpoints or needs.
15. Conflict averse, whether it be conflict with or between employees, peers or upper management.
16. Making program changes without taking time to meet with the employees or learn about the program.
17. Sabotaged by another employee who wanted the supervisory position.
18. Giving confused or conflicting directions.
19. Expected to succeed without sufficient staff or resources.
20. Isolated from former friends and peers as well as from seasoned supervisors.
21. Threatened by competent employees so doesn’t involve them in decision making.
22. Afraid to make decisions or to implement decisions once they are made.
23. Obvious that s/he doesn’t respect the experience or expertise of his or her employees.
24. Not an effective advocate for his or her employees.
Organizations can help new supervisors be successful through ongoing communication, training and support.
The communication must begin by making very clear what the roles and responsibilities of the supervisor will be, so there are no unpleasant surprises. After that, there should be regularly scheduled meetings with the supervisor’s manager to discuss progress, concerns and needs, and ongoing support available in the interim through access to the manager to discuss issues as they arise.
New supervisors need formal training so they know how to perform their roles and responsibilities. They also need training to build the skills necessary to handle the interpersonal aspects of supervision.
Informal training by mentors can provide an introduction to and interpretation of the organization’s history, culture and precedent- as well as practical advice gained from their previous experience in a similar role.
Organizations can support their new supervisors by creating a network of supervisors to serve as sounding boards and provide just-in-time suggestions or answers as needed.
In addition, organizations can provide support by having clearly written human resources processes and procedures to which the new supervisors can refer as they handle different situations.
How does your organization set your new supervisors up for success?