Supervisory Leadership

Site Map About Wally Bock Media Center Speeches & Training
Home Page
Articles
Book Reviews
Newsletter
Questions
Got a Question or Comment?
 
 
Wally Bock Answers Your
Supervisory Leadership Question

How do I handle the transition to supervisor?

The transition from being an individual contributor to being a supervisor is one of the toughest there is. I've written a whole e-book about the process, "So Now You're the Boss."

The transition is especially tough because both the job and the support group change at the same time. In most other promotional transitions, the job changes, but the basic support structure that a person has developed remains essentially the same. What can make things even tougher is that the new supervisor rarely understands some crucial things.

Crucial Thing 1: The transition takes time. In my research, I've found that a new supervisor who makes a successful transition goes through three stages, each of which lasts 6 - 12 months. The average time seems to be 18-24 months for the total cycle.

The first two stages I call Boss (new supervisor gives lots of orders, is surprised that giving orders alone doesn't work) and Buddy (new supervisor tries to be everyone's friend, is surprised that being everyone's friend doesn't work). Either of these two stages can come first, depending on the personality of the new supervisor.

After Boss and Buddy, those who make a successful transition move on to Balance. Here they learn how to take a bit of both and blend them into a successful personal style. My guess is that less than half of newly promoted supervisors make a successful transition, but instead get stuck in Boss or Buddy.

That's because there's hardly any training or books out there that address the transition and are helpful. In addition, many supervisory skills training programs do not address the work of supervision (talking to people about performance) and when they do, they use generalities, like "be fair" without describing what that means in practice.

Here's my quick advice to new supervisors.

You will go through a transition process much like what I've described above.

You will have two key jobs as a supervisor: accomplishing the mission through the group and caring for your people.

When you are promoted, you have less power and more influence than you had before.

What you supervise is behavior (what people say and what people do) because those are the only things you can witness and describe objectively.

The tools you have are your behavior and whatever sanctions and rewards your organization allows you to deliver.

The best thing you can do as a new supervisor is find a good supervisor who will mentor you and be a role model for you, especially during your critical transition.

Wally

You may reprint or repost this article providing that the following conditions are met:

  • The article remains essentially unaltered.
  • Wally Bock is shown as the author.
  • The notice Copyright 2005 by Wally Bock or similar appears on the article.
  • Contact information for Wally is included with the article. You may refer readers to this Web site as a way to meet this requirement, or use the information on our contact page.

Any other reprinting or reposting requires specific permission which is almost always granted. Click here to request permission if necessary.

Wally

Got a supervisory leadership question for Wally? He'll answer as many questions as his workload permits and put the ones with most universal interest on this site. By asking your question you agree that it may appear here at some future time. Your name and affiliation will not be used on the site in conjunction with your question.

To ask Wally a supervisory leadership question, click here to go to our question form.

Wally


© 2005 Wally Bock. Click for Contact Information.