Essential Skills for the First-Time Supervisor

Lorna Kibbey Training LeadersFirst-time supervisors accept their new position with enthusiasm and optimism. These people have become supervisors because they are outstanding employees who have delivered great results. They have proven their ability to get the job done. Suddenly, delivering great results depends on something completely different – their ability to get results through others.

There are three essential skills that will help new supervisors survive the first months of transition. These three essential skills provide an area of focus in a wide field of important supervisory skills. They give the first-time supervisor a solid place to start.

  1. Supervisors must learn how to flip their perspective. This includes expanding their knowledge and understanding of the organization to form a management point of view. To get results through others, supervisors need to understand how to set goals and expectations; establish priorities; use personal power; and include employees in problem solving and decision making.
  2. Supervisors need to employ effective communication and listening skills. This includes both oral and written communication techniques. Methods of communicating must also be considered including holding effective staff meetings; completing one-on-ones with employees; and specifics on communicating with internal and external customers.
  3. Supervisors must build effective relationships and use those relationships for help and support. A supervisor needs to have strong relationships with their employees – but also with their peers, their bosses, and their customers. Learning how to foster those relationships is critical. The ability to manage a high performing work team has its base in knowing how to build effective relationships.

Without question, new supervisors need training in many skill areas, but they need much more than just training. New supervisors need support, mentoring, and time to develop skills and knowledge.

Clearly, the transition into supervision is difficult. Once complete, those who survive know the true value and satisfaction in driving success and in helping employees achieve maximum potential.

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