You have gone from being
a team member to team leader – now what?


For first time supervisors, navigating this change can be a major transition. You were with your co-workers – working at the same level and now you have to supervise them. The most common questions I get asked are:

  • How do I go from being a friend to supervising them?
  • Will this change our friendship?
  • What if they don’t take me seriously?
  • How do I get them to listen and respect me?

As a new supervisor – your perspective changes.  You are likely to participate in meetings where there is more of a management context. You will learn business acumen – how the company operates, how it measures success and a new set of expectations for your role.

You are now responsible for the performance of your team, the quality and the standards of the results they produce. Now you may have a clearer understanding of why your previous supervisor behaved a certain way and had specific expectations of you when you were a team member.

Where to start? Here are some key actions you can take to support your success:

  • Make sure you understand what exactly is expected of you including your new job description, behavioural expectations as a supervisor and how success is measured for you and your team
  • Speak to your human resources department/representative to find out the policies and guidelines related to employees
  • Get some training for first time supervisors
  • Meet with your team members – one to one – discuss thee points/ask these questions:
    • I’m in a new role now and these are the expectations of me (explain)
    • As the new supervisor, how would you like me to communicate/interact with you?
    • How often would you like to meet as a team and what would make those meetings meaningful for you?
    • In the past, we discussed some challenges working here – let’s talk about them again and I’d like to understand your thoughts and ideas on how we can improve the department
    • What would make your job better for you?
    • How would you like to grow and learn in your role?
    • What are your career goals?
    • How can I support them?
    • What suggestions do you have for me as a new supervisor for this team?
    • What else would you like me to know about you or the team?


  • Once you have met with everyone, summarize the common themes – conduct a team meeting and share what you heard in terms of improvements and info related to your leadership. Ask the team to share their ideas on how to fix the problems that were identified
  • Have regular check ins with your team individually and as a group
  • When you feel inclined to tell your team what to do, try asking them for the answer first
  • The more you engage them and include them in the development of an idea or a solution to a problem, the more they will learn to think for themselves, increase their sense of pride and their overall commitment to their job
  • Take the first few months to learn, observe, ask and think before you implement any new change
  • As a new supervisor – “you’ve got this”! Good luck in your new role!