Promoted to Supervise Your Former Peers?

So, you’ve been promoted to manager/supervisor. Congratulations! You’re excited and apprehensive at the same time. What can you do now to ensure your success?

As an individual contributor, you had to manage your own job-related tasks, and likely also interface with other members of your team or department.

Now you have different tasks of your own, and you also have to oversee the tasks, the projects, and people in your department…not to mention develop more organizational awareness and political acumen!

Let’s assume that you already have a good handle on managing your own time and projects, and if not, that you will find resources to guide you—a time management workshop, a book, a mentor, or a coach.

The challenges a new manager/supervisor must face often involve supervising those who were once your peers.

  • How do you go from socializing as friends and colleagues after work, to now directing and delegating to those same individuals?
  • How do you effectively supervise former peers without changing who you are?
  • How do you effectively, and fairly, evaluate them?
  • How do you manage the inevitable conflict among those same people?
  • How do you create an environment that will be motivating for each of the different personalities who work for you?
  • How do you maintain authority and credibility with those who know more than you do about their jobs?

You listen. You ask for their insights and suggestions. You establish an open door policy. You effectively convey how willing you are to learn and to collaborate.

Now that you’ve become their supervisor, your job is to direct the work of your team, to delegate effectively, to develop the staff you have, and to create a motivating environment so they will want to do their best for you and your organization.

To get a good start on accomplishing all of that in a short period of time, I recommend that you meet frequently with each staff member to review their projects and progress. Here’s a useful process to use during these sessions.