The new supervisor

Taking up a supervisory position over staff carries responsibility and expectations, so here are a few simple guidelines.


Becoming a new supervisor should be an exciting time – fresh start, new team, a real chance to show your skills. But often a person taking over a team can walk into resentment and old baggage.

Just remember the first weeks in a new role set the tone.


The role of the supervisor

A supervisor has their work cut out for them. They have to do so many things:


  1. Planning: Involving goal setting and providing direction.
  2. Staffing: Recruiting and firing.
  3. Organising: Schedules and rosters, how resources will be allocated and what is best processes to achieve outcomes.
  4. Inspiring and directing: Letting people know what is expected of them, motivating others and aligning them to the company vision and goals.
  5. Managing performance: Coaching and helping others to develop their skills, assessing staff performance etc.
  6. Supporting: Being available and looking after their people.


Many new supervisors may have difficulty letting go of their previous roles. For example, if you compare an operator to a supervisor; the operator does things directly, whereas the supervisor gets their job done through others, by directing them. In order to inspire someone to take on the role efficiently, they need to be completely clear about what is expected of them, and be able to let go of doing things themselves, thereby wasting time that should spent directing and coaching others.


Resentment of a new supervisor


Often there may be competition for the role of supervisor. When the decision is made, certain people within a team may feel resentment towards the new supervisor. They may feel that they are more suited to the role, or they may have an issue with the fact that the supervisor chosen is younger, is female, is foreign, has less qualifications and experience etc.


In order to deal with this kind of resentment, it is important for the new supervisor to sit down with each staff member individually and in a group, and discuss what each person expects from the other. This is also a good opportunity to raise issues and problems, in order to resolve them.


Expectations of the new supervisor


It is important for the new supervisor not to come into the role as a dictator. The most impressive leaders and supervisors I have met are those who are not only able to listen to people, but WANT to listen and are willing to take on their ideas. As a new supervisor in any situation, the person needs to be able and willing to provide clear direction, feedback, praise and encouragement, support, and to represent the team within the organisation.


Most importantly, the new supervisor needs to get the team on-side. This usually occurs when a certain amount of trust is built by:


  • Making promises and keeping them – if you say to a staff member “let’s catch up later today” and you don’t set a time and then you ignore the end of the day and the missed meeting, you will NOT build trust.
  • Being honest – if there is something that you can’t or won’t do, then be up-front about it.


What if your skills aren’t up-to-scratch?


If you are feeling like your skills in your new role aren’t quite what they should be, don’t be afraid to ask for help from your staff. This would also help to build a better relationship with staff.


You could also make a point of spending time with your own manager or CEO to get their support. Negotiate an agreement with your manager in relation to what you expect in the way of support from them.




Supervisors need to ask for feedback on how they are doing:


a) In order to improve their skills and modify behaviour or procedures where necessary.
b) To set an example for staff members, as to the kind of behaviour and environment they want to promote.


When you go home each day – ask yourself – what did I do well with my team today? How did I help them achieve their goals and how did I build their skills and confidence? And what can I do better? And make a point of striving for excellence in the way you manage your people.

Click here to see The New Supervisor video



By Eve Ash, psychologist and Managing Director, Seven Dimensions, and co-producer with Peter Quarry of The New Supervisor (from the TAKE AWAY TRAINING SERIES) distributed by SEVEN DIMENSIONS,



Click here for more Eve Ash blogs



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