How to Transition an Employee to Supervisor

Many organizations use succession planning as a means to develop and promote employees from within, and should be included in business objectives.

This benefits both the employer and the employee. The employer saves recruitment costs and the time associated with developing a new employee, and the employee is given the opportunity for advancement and professional growth.

An internal promotion often means an entry level employee is promoted to a supervisory position. This kind of promotion may be based on a structured performance management process and an employee’s ability to successfully meet goals.

While promotion is an exciting time, the newly promoted employee will need help through the transition. And, the organization is responsible for providing the structure and process for a smooth job transition.

4 Steps to a Smooth Job Transition

1.  Coaching

An internal promotion can be challenging, but having a designated person to talk to, helps make the transition a little easier.

The new supervisor should be assigned a mentor and coach who has moved up the ranks and experienced making this kind of job transition. This mentor can help the new supervisor talk through issues that may arise, explain company policy or simply act as a sounding board.

The goal is to provide someone who can be there to answer questions and offer support through the transition.

2.  Management Training

Job responsibilities are different when managing other employees, making it necessary to learn people management skills. The employee will need to be developed as a new manager and will greatly benefit from management training for their new role.

This can be done by having an organizational leadership competency model which can be used to help identify specific training areas of focus.

Example training topics might be things like how to write goals, conflict management, conducting performance appraisals or the performance management process.

Solicit help from other managers in the organization to help determine which competencies should be achieved.

3.  Leadership Development

In addition to learning how to manage people, the employee will also need leadership development.  Their new role means they will be overseeing the performance of other employees but a new responsibility will include being an example and leader within the organization.

Leadership is different than management in that a leader is responsible for influencing positive behaviors and leading employees toward the achievement of shared goals. Not all leaders are managers, but all managers should have team leadership skills.

4.  Participate in Professional Organizations

supervisor-by-conservative-partyNew supervisors should be encouraged to join and get involved with professional organizations within their industry. This might mean attending conferences, workshops or subscribing to industry trade magazines.

These outside contacts and experiences give the new supervisor fresh perspectives and ideas that they can bring back to the organization.

Other thoughts:

  • When an employee is promoted within a department, there are many potential issues that can develop if there is not ample communication and training to support the transition.
  • The new supervisor should be encouraged to minimize social interactions with former coworkers because of the inevitable conflicts that arise during performance appraisal time.
  • The new supervisor should be taught how to respond to inappropriate and awkward requests that may come from former coworkers. Yes, employees will try to take advantage of relationships for personal gain.
  • The new supervisor should be taught about rater errors in the performance appraisal process so they don’t get make biased evaluations. Everyone is susceptible to these errors, but particularly someone who was once friends with the person they are appraising.
  • The new supervisor should be closely monitored and encouraged to seek out help to deal with the day-to-day issues that arise when overseeing other employees.

Employees are an organization’s greatest asset. Taking the time to plan the development and promotion of employees, not only improves employee engagement, but is crucial to achieving organizational objectives.

photo courtesy conservativeparty

Article originally published June, 2012, updated June, 2014.

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