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Move “N” On Up!

Congratulations! You were finally selected for that supervisor position you’ve been working to get for the last 3 years. You were recognized as the most productive company employee at the last team meeting and your manager stated you were ready for the next level. However, the more you think about it, transitioning from a peer to a supervisor may not be so easy. You’ll be giving orders to some of your best friends and that’s a little scary.

Many companies provide career advancement opportunities to retain employees with talent and specific skills. However, promotions bring new challenges that many employees are not prepared or trained to handle. As a result, the initial excitement about the new position is very “short lived” and overshadowed by frustration and feelings of discouragement. Below are some tips for transitioning from a peer to a supervisor whether in the same company or a new one.

Personal Transition

§ Get a routine that works and stick to it

§ Take time to organize and prioritize routine tasks

§ Control your emotions; know when you need to walk away and regroup; Do it!

§ Find a de-stressor and practice using it

§ Embrace the changes; look for the positives and promote them to employees and peers

§ Find a confidant to share leadership burdens and to refuel emotionally

§ Be assertive and not pushy; be confident and not puffed up; be motivated and not irritating

§ Focus on your strengths and use them


§ Be thoroughly familiar with daily responsibilities; establish a routine and timeline for completion

§ Establish credibility and respect by taking positive actions and asking for help when needed

§ Establish and communicate work/social boundaries between you and other positions

§ Become well informed of EEO, sexual harassment and hostile work environment policies

§ Seek opportunities to motivate and turn people on and not off

  • Be available and visible to the employees

  • Work on developing the ability to ignite passion and commitment in employees and peers

§ Look for and utilize opportunities to develop and mentor employees

§ Demonstrate leadership abilities during planned and unplanned situations

Daily Practices

§ Monitor performance and provide immediate feedback or as soon as feasible

§ Routinely delegate when feasible

§ Coach and assist employees in improving performance and attitudes

§ Empower and enhance group performance by encouraging teamwork

§ Use employees to brainstorm solutions to unusual situations

§ Take immediate action on any potential EEO issues that arise in the workplace.

  • Determine what is urgent versus important and prioritize actions

§ Listen to understand first and respond second

§ Listen and address employee concerns as soon as possible

§ Work to resolve issues at the lowest level

§ Give criticism or negative feedback privately and tactfully

Generate Enthusiasm

§ Match employees skills with work to be accomplished

§ Praise! Great Performance!

  • Break communication barriers; find a common ground to start discussions

  • Persuade through connecting and building trust first

  • Investigate the “why” or root causes of poor performance before making final decisions

§ Set realistic and attainable goals

§ Cultivate motivation; Let employees be part of the solution process (when able)

§ Minimize and/or eliminate unnecessary tasks

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