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How to Assert Yourself as a Supervisor

by Lalla Scotter

The transition from worker to supervisor in the workplace is one of the hardest changesto make. It is particularly hard if you are being promoted to your first managerial role from within the company. The people who, yesterday, were your co-workers and equals now are the team you are required to manage. Tempting as it may be, do not try to pretend that nothing has changed. Instead, plan how you intend to establish yourself as a supervisor.

Listen and learn

It can be helpful to find a mentor.

Even if you have been promoted to supervisor in the same department in which you had previously worked, think of it as a new job. Take time to listen to the other people in the department. Learn what they do and how they work together. You will probably find that the team looks very different from the perspective of a manager. Listen also to your manager and take his or her advice, or find a mentor from elsewhere in the company. Every manager was once a first-time supervisor. Ask them to share with you the lessons they learned.

Act professionally

As a manager, your behavior must be impeccable.

As a manager, you are expected to be a role model for the members of your team. You are also representing them to the rest of the organization. So, your behavior must be impeccable. Dress appropriately at all times. Be punctual and deliver to deadlines. Most of all, do not join in the time-honored office tradition of gossiping or complaining about management. You are part of management now. It is your job to support company policies and keep your own opinions to yourself.

Think team

A supervisor must think about the team.

The big change in becoming a supervisor is that now you will be judged on how well the whole team, not just you, performs. So, you must think about the team all the time. Always remember to ask your staff for their ideas. Get them to work with you to agree what each person has to do and by when. Thank them for their contributions. Most of all, if you are praised by a senior manager, make it clear that you owe it all to your great team.

Stand back

Stay friends, but act formally at work.

Of course you can and should remain friends with the people in your team. However, it is important at work to develop a more formal relationship. It would be difficult, for example, to enjoy a cozy lunch with someone, only to have to chase them up immediately afterwards over a missed deadline. If you have a particularly close friend in the team, it is best to agree not to emphasize it at work. You don't want to be accused of favoritism.

About the Author

Lalla Scotter has been writing professionally since 1988, covering topics ranging from leadership to agriculture. Her work has appeared in publications such as the "Financial Times" and "Oxford Today." Scotter holds an honors Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Bristol.

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