10.5 top tips when appointing first time supervisors


  1. Give them training. People don’t just become supervisors by osmosis or because they have been supervised by someone else in the past. Teach them how to do it. Show them how to do it! Make sure they understand the culture of the organisation and how they can be a great supervisor who role-models the Company’s values for their team.
  2. Create a development plan for them across the first 6, and perhaps even 12 months, for this role. Ensure you support them just as you would someone being formally inducted into the company as a new starter. Ensure you include a whole variety of experiences and knowledge or confidence building activities i.e. by shadowing meetings, training or coaching etc.
  3. Consider appointing a mentor. This is someone they can turn to with their questions and/or dilemmas, and for when they need the support of someone other than their own manager.
  4. Take time to explore expectations with them. What do they expect of their new team? What do their staff expect of them? What does their manager expect of them? Are all the expectations realistic? If not, what can they do to address this? This conversation often flushes out issues that can be dealt with early on, thus avoiding serious issues further down the line.
  5. Remember to do the paperwork! People are normally delighted to have attained their first line management position so give them a letter to take home to their families, issue an amendment to their contract of employment if necessary, ensure telephone and other company lists reflect the change. Make it seamless with nothing to detract from their enjoyment of their new role.


  1. Make assumptions about their ability to use the technology your business uses, about their clarity on your business practices or that they automatically understand their responsibilities. Proactively ask them what they know and educate them about what they don’t.
  2. Just land the job of supervisor on them and expect them to flourish. People management is notoriously hard, so the majority of new supervisors will need ongoing support. It’s a tough job managing people – did anyone tell them this before they accepted the role?
  3. Hit them with a low or under-performance grade at their first review after being appointed. You don’t want to disengage a new supervisor by early criticism before they have had time to develop the skills they need to succeed.
  4. Forget to teach them about the leadership/management style expected within the organisation. If they have worked in numerous businesses they will have seen numerous different styles so no doubt will have come up with the style that they think suits them. But does it suit your business? What is the accepted style/tone? Talk to them about this.
  5. Ignore the fact that this change, especially if they have been promoted from within, is one that needs to be managed like any other change. So, take time to listen to the team, as well as your new manager and ensure that everyone understands that there will inevitably be a period of adjustment that won’t always feel comfortable.

And Finally…

10.5. Just because you may have made it up the ladder without training, coaching, mentoring and endless support does not necessarily mean that that is an efficient and effective way for others to climb the ladder. Expectations nowadays are very different so don’t dish out to them the tough treatment you experienced as that may well backfire if your newly appointed supervisor resigns in a fit of pique!

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