3 Tips to Transition from Peer to Supervisor

Happy workers celebrating promotion to supervisor

Making the move from coworker to manager can – and should – be something to celebrate. It’s not a milestone everyone reaches. If you have the opportunity to take on a leadership role after working as an individual contributor, there could also be a few bumps in the road. Here are 3 tips to successfully make that transition:

Transitioning to Supervisor

When accepting a supervisory role, understand that your coworkers may see you differently. Expect the dynamic between you and your former coworkers to change, which might be difficult for them (and you!), depending on the way you interacted prior to your shift into management. Help them navigate this new relationship so that they fully understand you are now responsible for overseeing their work and no longer accomplishing it alongside them.

1. Boundaries

Before transitioning to a supervisory role, you probably developed personal relationships with some of your coworkers. As their supervisor, you need to ensure you avoid any favoritism or prejudice based on these previous relationships. Setting clear boundaries will help set the tone for how all of you move forward.

Although you can still have work friendships with the people who are now your employees, understand that attitudes may change when you accept this leadership position. It’s vital to clearly communicate boundaries to those you will be managing so that they get to know you as their new boss instead of as their peer.

  • Speak with each of your team members individually and explain how you plan to manage their work, especially if it differs from the previous supervisor.
  • Define what your expectations are of them and what they can expect from you as a supervisor.
  • Create an appropriate manager/employee relationship with each team member.

Let them know you are available for support or advice as they need it, but that gossiping about other employees or management is not an option, especially if that behavior was common in the past.

2. Example

You need to make sure you are the kind of leader who is willing to use this opportunity to create a fresh slate with each of the people who will now be working for you. Set a stellar example of what it means to be a great leader. Give them all a fair and equal chance to prove they have the skills to excel in their roles, no matter the previous workflow you may have experienced with and from them.

You don’t want them to continue treating you as one of the group; you need them to treat you as the boss. Your position as their new supervisor isn’t about trying to be popular because you may have been friendly before the move to management; it’s about leading others to achieve optimal results. Earning their trust and leading by example should be an integral part of the transition process.

3. Focus

Keep the focus on the work that needs to be done rather than the fact that you are now occupying a different role. One of the biggest benefits of managing a team you have previously worked with is that you are likely to have a better understanding of the team’s strengths than someone who is hired from outside the organization. Leverage your team’s strengths and use your new position as an opportunity to see if your workers might actually excel in an alternative position or by doing things in a different way. Morale – as well as productivity – could easily increase if your team observes that you are actually listening to them and making much needed and welcome changes to improve their workload and/or their work/life balance.

Here to Help

If you have transitioned from being an individual contributor to being a supervisor and need some guidance to navigate that journey, I would love to help make that path a little less bumpy. Let’s schedule a chat and see how we can make that happen.

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