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New Managers: Leading The Troops

Tips for new managers

new supervisorSo you’ve been promoted, congratulations! You’re beginning a journey, where you’ll discover things about yourself that you’ve never known. You’ll learn how to set boundaries with employees and motivate your team to improve their performance. You’ll learn how to deal with challenging personalities. And, you’ll learn how to develop a staff.

At times you may feel lonely. At others you’ll want to throw in the towel. Many supervisors feel isolated because of the stressors of their job. You may not have someone you can vent to. You may not understand how to handle office politics. Even if you’ve been a highly regarded employee, moving into the role of supervisor changes everything.

Prepare yourself for this new role. Many managers are not trained for supervisory positions. Unless you have taken management courses or have an MBA you’re probably not equipped for the job. Here are a few tips to help you succeed in your new position.

Find a Mentor

Look for someone that you can share your frustrations with. Some supervisors can turn to other managers in their workplaces or to his or her boss. However, small business owners or managers who work offsite may not have this luxury. If this is the case, you can find mentors through your local chamber of commerce or other business networking groups in your area.

Talk with friends who have been long-term supervisors. The key is to speak with someone who has been doing this for a few years. Supervisors who are not cut out for the job will typically leave their positions quickly.

Get Training

Increase your knowledge by attending management training seminars or classes for first time supervisors. These courses can teach you strategic planning, and the dos and don’ts of management.

Set Boundaries

Being a good supervisor is similar to that of being a good parent. Your role is to help people to develop, to grow and to be better employees. You are a guide.

Confusing this role with friendship or trying to buddy up with employees will cause trouble when you need to set rules and limits. Some managers like go out for a few drinks with their staff. Then when they have to criticize an employee’s work, they have trouble because they can’t separate business from personal relationships.

It’s very difficult to separate work and friendship; very few people are talented enough to do this. This doesn’t mean that you can’t socialize at all. But, be careful to separate yourself from your staff.

Sometimes this boundary causes supervisors to feel lonely. So how do you deal with it? Buddy up with other supervisors at your office or others in the industry.

Be a Role Model

Remember your actions will come back to haunt you! Let’s say you have an employee who comes in late everyday. Yet, you do the same. This makes it very hard for you to talk to your employee about his or her tardiness. The staff member will bring your actions back to you. Remember the phrase “do as I say, not as I do?”

Don’t Push Too Hard

Don’t try to prove yourself too soon. Some new managers think they have to achieve many goals quickly in order to have their staff respect them. In the beginning, don’t try to change a lot of things. Observe, plan what you want to change, talk to staff about it, and then take action. Try and include staff feedback as much as possible. This creates team building and gives employees a sense of ownership in their jobs.


Communicate, communicate, and communicate! Don’t assume that people know what you want. Tell them what you expect. Some of the best times to let people know what you expect of them are during the interview process or on the employee’s first day on the job. If your employees are already on board, have a meeting and tell them how you operate. Ask them how they think things are going and what they would like to improve.

Time Management

You say you are already successful at this? Well, things will change. Now there will be constant interruptions and people constantly asking you for things. Prioritizing what to handle first can be hard because now you’re dealing with people’s emotions and personalities. They may think their needs are the priority. You’ll have to help them rethink this as you now have many needs to fulfill including your boss’s!

The world of supervision can open or close many doors. The outcome depends on how you operate as a person. How you deal with others will determine whether you’ll be a success or not.

About Amy Ertel

Amy Ertel earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Master of Education in Student Affairs Counseling from Southeastern Louisiana University. Previously, she served as a Career Counselor with the Professional Development Office at the Tulane School of Law.


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