So You're A First Time Supervisor, Now What?


Congratulations on becoming a supervisor for the first time in your career! Or, if you’re not a supervisor yet (and would like to be), congratulations on being proactive! In our haste to create a comprehensive onboarding experience for our new “direct reports” (who will be referred to as team members moving forward), there’s often something lacking—onboarding for the first-time supervisor. 

Below are some items you might not have been told or thought to ask – that comes with the territory.
Part One: Supervisory Housekeeping in 2 Steps
Most advice will focus on the bigger picture items of being a supervisor. These include lofty leadership values, communication skills, and team-building strategies. However, before you start digesting the TED Talks, the self-help books, and research-backed articles there are some practical matters to address—we’ll call this supervisory housekeeping. 

Step 1: Identify your Resources
Who in your network do you admire and trust? Identify individuals (either at your supervisory level or above) whom you can go to and ask questions or discuss challenges you face as a supervisor. You need to establish these connections first so that you know whom to call if something tricky arises. Just because you’re a supervisor, doesn’t mean you need to know everything or that you’re on your own. 

Step 2: Identify your Parameters
What’s in your control and what isn’t? Do you have a say on salary, bonuses, and other employee incentives for your team member, or is that somebody else in your company? Are those decisions made by a combo of people (including you)? If so, meet with the relevant decision-makers first to discuss what that conversation & timeline looks like. Don’t wait until your team member asks for a raise to figure out the process. 

What about administrative responsibilities like approving timesheets and PTO requests—do you have any leeway within the company policy to be flexible here? Is there any software you need to learn or get administrative permissions for in order to view and approve reports?

Find out in advance if you have budget limitations for approving costs for professional development and organizational involvement. Clarify if you have any agency for employee engagement costs like taking your team out for lunch and how to appropriately expense that. Know these parameters first before you get a nerve-wracking call from leadership or accounting about a “questionable expense”—yikes! 
Is that all? Of course not! Stay tuned for Part Two of the First-Time Supervisor Onboarding Guide.

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