I’m a newly promoted supervisor with eight people working under me. Three of them are 5-10 years older and more senior to me in terms of number of years in the company. It is with the latter that I feel very uncomfortable. I don’t know how to deal with them especially when they are passive during meetings, or ask me for the basis of my decisions.
Please help me by giving me some useful how-tos.
You feel uncomfortable dealing with these three senior employees because your being younger than they, and junior to them, is eroding your self-confidence.
The following tips may be useful to you to bolster your self-confidence:
- Our thoughts affect our feelings. To develop your self-confidence in relating with your direct reports, have the following positive but true thoughts about yourself:
- Though you are younger, you were the one chosen by management for promotion..
- Management recognized your competencies and your track record of consistent performance.
- Management recognized your potentials for leadership and your promotion to supervisor is an opportunity to show your leadership and to develop it further.
- During your meetings, encourage participation of all your eight subordinates.
- Solicit inputs (opinions, suggestions etc.) from all of them.
- Avoid focusing your attention on the senior employees in your desire to impress/please them. Act naturally towards them and relate to them as you do with the others.
- If the senior employees remain passive during meetings despite your efforts to solicit inputs from them, just let them be.
- Before the meeting ends, summarize the points taken up and the decisions made. If your subordinates were given a chance to voice out their opinions and suggestions, they can’t question the decisions made. The decisions were the group’s.
You might benefit from reading materials or browsing the internet for more tips on how to handle meetings efficiently. Added knowledge will boost your self-confidence.
3. Learn the science and art of supervision. Attend a company-sponsored training program on Supervision. If there is none forthcoming, you can attend one, paid out from your own pocket. Read a good book and/or browse the internet on supervision. Know the technical skills of planning, organizing and controlling. Know the emotional competencies required for effective leadership. Practice them. Knowing the skills and practicing them at appropriate times will boost your self-confidence.
Even experienced supervisors/managers always benefit form training and reading if they are open to learning. Learning is continuous and life-long.
4. You are now a supervisor, not a “super” worker. As a supervisor, you produce results through your subordinates. Know how each of them contributes to the outputs expected of your unit.
- Clear with your own supervisor/manager the expected outputs/results of your unit and by when. Know how your unit contributes to the outputs of his/her department.
- Know how you and each of your eight subordinates contribute to your unit’s expected outputs/results.
- Be clear about your role and the role of each of them. Communicate these clearly to them.
- Monitor the job performance of each one on a weekly basis.
5. Give immediate feedback.
- Be quick to give positive feedback for positive behaviors and for results delivered by your subordinates on schedule. Ex: “I like your report. It is concise yet complete.” When you say this, look at the person and smile.
- Correct negative behaviors and failure to meet deadlines. Do this in private. There might be a tendency for you to turn a “blind eye” to the negative behaviors and failure to meet quality standards by your senior employees, out of fear or favor. If you do this, you are showing to them that they have power over you. Give constructive feedback in the form of reminders. Ex: “I’d like to remind you about minimizing the use of cellphone during office hours.” “I want to remind you of our agreement that this report is due every Tuesday of the week.”
- Find time to talk to each of your subordinates to know them as workers and as persons. Schedule a one-on-one with one person a week. Look for the appropriate time. Ask them how they find their work: what they enjoy doing, what concerns they have, etc. Look at pictures on their table. Ask about their families. Having interactions with your employees will make you comfortable when you relate with them.
- Find time to coach your subordinate in areas where they need to grow.
- Since you are a new supervisor, you may not know the responsibilities of each one. Ask each of them what their responsibilities are and what they think of them.
- Observe their job performance and evaluate their outputs to find out their areas for improvement and where you can coach them.
- To enhance your self-confidence, it is important that you give yourself a “pat on the back” each time you do the right things as a supervisor, such as being able to do any of the tips suggested above.
When you make mistakes, learn from them and do not commit them anymore. Try not to brood over them. Mistakes contribute to our wisdom.
Your growth and development as a supervisor can be fast-tracked if you know what knowledge and skills you need to acquire/enhance. In this way your self-development efforts can be focused.
God bless you.
Josie O. Santamaria