Yesterday, you were one of the crew, laughing with them, making jokes about how Joe’s always late, how Mary never gets her reports done on time and you get the word. YOU are now the new supervisor. Starting tomorrow. What? Now Joe and Mary aren’t so funny anymore are they? And you also know that the other two people that were competing with you are not happy with the final decision. Sound familiar? Do you remember that feeling or are you currently experiencing that feeling? No worries. We’ve all felt like that at some point and there are definitely some things you can do to make the transition a little smoother. So, first things first. You have stepped way outside your comfort zone and you need to check your ego enough to realize that you are woefully unprepared for this. I don’t care how much schooling you have had, the only real training for leadership is leadership. That being said, your pursuit of knowledge should be a lifelong adventure. It takes awhile to learn how to grow an individual and a team and there is no room for any ego that puts anything but those two things first. Do you know what your job description says? Learn it, until you know it well enough to sit down with your boss to discuss exactly what is expected of you. Just as it is critical for your people to know what is expected from them and what will happen if they don’t perform, you have to know your boundaries as well. Have some meetings. Get to know your personnel. I’ll let you decide whether it’s better to have individual first and then group or vice versa but it’s best to have both. Be honest in those meetings, especially with the two that think they were a better choice, and be there more to take their input rather than to push yours. The individual meeting is a great way to low key the transition and just talk about the culture and the individual and to ask for their assistance. Just make sure you don’t let it go negative about other people or the organization. If you want to start off on the right foot, let them know it’s not about the problems, it’s about the solutions and the team effort is always toward problem solving. The group meeting should be about the environment, the culture and the expectations. The emphasis should be that you expect it to be a shared effort and that your role is one of service, not dictator. Encourage input and of course problem solving. Be consistent and honest. That includes holding people accountable, giving praise when it’s due, and giving them the information and resources they need to get the job done. It doesn’t mean that you treat them all the same. If you treat the hardest workers exactly the same as Joe the late guy, and Mary the never gets it done girl, your team will head in the wrong direction and excellence will never be a part of your agenda. You cannot make everyone like you or even respect you so don’t waste time trying. Instead work to be likeable and respectful so you set the right tone. Finally, be persistent. It will take time for the team to accept you and you may make many mistakes along the way. But keep your head up, accept your mistakes as learning opportunities, don’t be afraid to apologize and stay committed to your pursuit of leadership knowledge. It’s the toughest and yet the most rewarding position to be in, but you will learn to grow individuals and teams and that will make you a better person and you will learn to live a better life.
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